Green Mail – Our Latest Weekly Update

Click here for our latest business and community news update, Green Mail.  We publish and distribute Green Mail each week  via email, this website, on Twitter and on the Chamber’s Facebook page and Facebook group.

What Should Be In The Ontario Budget?


Take the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s latest survey to help shape Ontario’s 2015 Budget and add your voice to Canada’s most credible survey of business opinion. What are the critical issues impacting your bottom line? Can you afford the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan? How is your business being affected by Ontario’s skills gap?

By taking a moment to complete this short survey, you will be entered into a draw to win two round-trip tickets to any Air Canada flight destination in Canada and the continental United States .


Please note that this survey closes on February 13 at 5 p.m. (EST) and that only the prize winner will be contacted. Promotional consideration for this survey has been provided by Air Canada.

5 Minutes for Business



In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at the effect low interest rates will have on Canadian business.
Last week, the Bank of Canada lowered the interest rate to 0.75%, a move that no economist had predicted. The big question is what does it mean for Canadian business? The immediate effect was to weaken the dollar, which fell to $0.81. As a result, investors will move out of Canadian securities towards the U.S., weakening the loonie even further. In terms of the actual cost of business loans, we are unlikely to see much change as banks will have to cover their costs of funds. We believe most banks will keep their prime rate at 3%.
Finally, last week’s rate cut speaks volumes about the Canadian economy. There has been a lot of speculation in the media that maybe lower oil prices could help keep Canada on balance if the negative impact on oil producers is offset by stronger manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec. The Bank clearly disagrees: Governor Poloz called low oil prices “unambiguously bad” for Canada. In fact, a lower loonie is good for some manufacturers, but the beneficial effects could take time to materialize, and consumers may not rush out and spend the money they save on gas.

Read 5 Minutes for Business.

For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.


Changing Laws Changing You?

The world of laws and legislation that impacts employers, employees and businesses & organizations is ever-changing. And we’re on top of it with the first of our 2015 quarterly summaries on recent and coming changes. On January 15, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce sent an e-mail summary to all of the businesses and organizations that are registered as Members of the Chamber.  Click here and you can see & share all the details.

Ireland, Spring 2015



Our next group tour opportunity is an incredible 9-day tour of southern Ireland departing Wednesday May 13, 2015.

As with our previous tour groups to China, this trip is offered jointly by the St. Thomas & District Chamber and the Strathroy & District Chamber. The tour is open to anyone and can be used for business or pleasure. Chamber Members (plus retirees, immediate family, & volunteers) get a discount of $200 per person thanks to their Chamber membership.  $2945 is the Member price, including all taxes, 4 & 5-star hotels (plus a night at Dromoland Castle!), return air, shuttle to/from St. Thomas to Toronto, several meals, a cruise on the river Shannon, admission to attractions, and much more.  Our 2015 Ireland tour will visit 4 areas around Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway.

Click here for a link to our complete itinerary and tour guide.

Elgin Travel & Cruises is our exclusive local Chamber travel agent for this tour.  Call or visit their Elgin Mall office at 519-633-6300 for all details and bookings. A $400 deposit secures your seat.  Payment in full must be complete 90 days prior to departure.  Irish spring… See details on our upcoming tour Info Session, as posted in the Events column at the right side of this web page.


A Quick Look Back


In a note to the St. Thomas & District Chamber, Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty shared our latest summary of work and action on behalf our Members.

Perrin writes “For the Canadian Chamber, 2014 was another successful year. We worked hard on your behalf advocating for measures to restore Canada’s competitiveness to ensure businesses, like yours, can prosper, compete and succeed. We are proud of our achievements in 2014 and have highlighted them for you in our Annual Report, which I invite you to read.
On behalf of all of us at the Canadian Chamber, I thank you for your support this past year. I wish you a healthy and prosperous new year and look forward to our continued collaboration in 2015.”

Have a look! The participation by our local Chamber and hundreds of the other local Chambers of Commerce across Canada in programs, projects and services designed and delivered across our national network is a source of pride for us, and exceptional strength and value for each and every Member we serve.

The Benefits Our Members Can Get… a quick look

Information overload is something we all share and, here at the Chamber, we understand. And that’s why we’ve assembled a quick checklist for Members to see and consider the growing number of benefits, discounts and services that come with Chamber membership.

The information below is a quick summary. By all means, if you see a program or product you’d like more information on, the Chamber staff are eager and able to respond from our office or to put you in-touch with program agents and reps.

First, let’s be clear on who can participate in Chamber programs and services, or take advantage of significant price advantages we offer across the entire Chamber network.

It’s easy:  Once a business or organization joins the Chamber, all of the personnel in that business or organization can get involved, attend or participate. In some cases, as explained below, our opportunities extend to retirees and immediate family members. You can check another section here on our website for additional details, too.  Go to  the “Membership” tab above this article and below our logo here on our main page. Under that tab is a section called “Membership Benefits”.

Fuel discounts – Our national program with Esso (and Exxon / Mobil in the US) earns you savings of 3.5 cents per litre at any of over 1,000 Esso outlets anywhere in Canada and 18,000 Exxon or Mobil stations in the states.  It’s free to enroll.  Register as an organization for multiple vehicles in a fleet or as an individual. Contact Esso sales at 1-888-330-2419 or to apply.

UPS Courier discount – Our newest addition to our Benefits Bundle connects you with the largest courier and shipping company in the world.  Save 30% on courier shipments to Canada, the US and worldwide destinations. Additional savings on imports, customs brokerage fees & more. 75% savings on heavyweight freight, full load or LTL.  No charge to enroll. No minimums. No maximums.  Call 1-800-MEMBERS (636-2377) M-F, 8 a.m. to 6 or visit

Credit Card/Debit Card processing – Our Chamber Merchant Services program is managed by First Data Canada and not directly connected to any bank so you can choose where your account is locally.  Full range of on-line, mobile and point-of-sale processing equipment.  Monthly account fee just $5.  VISA rate is 1.55%, MasterCard, 1.60%, Interac debit, just 5 cents per transaction. Amex, Discover and other card rates – just ask.  Coming this fall – Mobile Debit for your Smartphone! for more. Follow us on Twitter for the latest deals & news @ChamberMerchant

Insurance – personal Group Plan – The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of our national Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan since it started in 1974.  Life insurance, health, drug, dental, disability, critical illness, travel and more. Ours is the #1 group insurance plan for small business in Canada. Our local licensed agent is Jeff Crossett at ARC Financial. 519-637-0181, Ext. 204, or you can explore our Group Plan through our national website:

Insurance – property & vehicle Group Plan – Cars, trucks, boats, motorbikes, homes, cottages and more.  The savings we achieve by pooling Chamber Members together as a group can be phenomenal.  Novex Group is our insurer.  Our local licensed professional agent is Reith & Associates.  Call 519-631-3862 or go online to and click on the Chamber logo.  Their website will prove our savings and compare our plan with others!

Data Backup & Recovery – the most critical part of any business or organization is the data in your computer systems. Secure cloud-based protection is available to all Members at a 15% discount through Quantum RBS. Hardware failures, theft, flood, fire or any type of disaster could cripple your operation. Quantum RBS takes away the worry and the grief.  Details at 519-633-8903 or email

Moving Forward Together

An Employer Perspective on the Design of Skills Training Programs in Ontario

Our latest report via The Ontario Chamber of Commerce presents the business perspective on the steps the Government of Ontario should take as it evolves the province’s suite of training and employment services.

By encouraging businesses to invest more in their employees, these new employer-driven programs could be an important step toward improving Ontario’s economic competitiveness. But they will only succeed if they are designed with the needs of employers in mind.

2015 Federal Budget


In August, the Chamber of Commerce network responded to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance’s invitation to participate in its pre-budget consultation process by submitting our priorities for the 2015 federal budget. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce collected input and ideas/concerns from across the country and submitted 9 key elements for consideration by the committee.

We are pleased to provide you with the executive summary of our submission. You may view the complete submission, by clicking here.

Chamber In New Resource Trade Initiative

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has announced a new initiative, the Partnership for Resource Trade, which seeks to engage Canadians in the important national discussion about the key role that natural resources play in our success as a country. The Partnership believes that the responsible use of Canada’s abundant natural resources is an important source of pride, opportunity and social and economic benefit to Canada. The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is supportive of this initiative and we encourage our Members to inform themselves and support the initiative as well.

The Partnership began a public advocacy campaign earlier this year. To learn more and to show your support for this initiative, please visit the Partnership for Resource Trade website.

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