This Week’s Green Mail…

Click here for our latest weekly issue of Green Mail.  Inside: a look at our summer Business After 5’s; more plans for the  new event we call St. Thomas Uncapped; a look ahead at major community events with potential to impact and involve our Members; and our latest news on events and activities that impact our business community in both good and bad ways. It’s all just one click away. The St. Thomas & District Chamber produces and distributes this business news and community info newsletter each week.  You can subscribe to it and get an email copy via the link on the left side of this page, or view it here on our website, or see it via the Chamber’s social media posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

5 Minutes for Business



 Jobs are always a top issue in a federal election, but with this shaky economy, it’s fast becoming the number one priority. Recent news hasn’t been great: in the first quarter, Canada’s GDP shrank by 0.6%, exports tumbled 5.6% and corporate profits fell by 14% as the drop in oil prices slammed the Canadian economy.

And yet the Canadian labour market has held up well, adding an average of 20,000 jobs per month since the beginning of 2015. In fact, Canada added a rip-roaring 59,000 jobs in May. What gives?

Add to the mix the fact that although energy-rich provinces once drove job creation while the manufacturing sector of Central Canada lagged behind, the situation is now flipped because of lower oil prices and a weaker Loonie. Still, the outlook is very mixed.

Let’s try to make sense of this. Read this week’s 5 Minutes for Business to explore the region disparities in job creation, to find out which sectors are performing and which ones aren’t (hint: it may not be the ones you usually think of!) and what to expect in coming months.

For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.

Making Headlines on the ORPP

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

On Tuesday June 2, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne urging the government to expand its definition of pension plan comparability to include capital accumulation plans, including (but not limited to) Defined Contribution plans.  Signed by the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce and over 150 other chambers, boards of trade, associations, and businesses, the letter made waves across Ontario media outlets.  Since the release, the letter has been the subject of over 60 media hits in publications and broadcast outlets across Ontario.  Here’s a sampling of the attention generated:

Toronto Star
Queen’s Park Question Period
Question Period in the House of Commons

Response from the Hon. Mitzie Hunter:

“I certainly welcome the perspective of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  Throughout public consultations I hosted earlier this year, I heard directly from the OCC and its Members on a number of occasions, including directly from many of the signatories of this letter.  I’ve also participated in a series of teleconferences with local Chamber presidents, and have met with the OCC.

Through this consultation, we heard a wide range of opinions on the definition of a comparable plan. Some groups advocated for universality while others suggested a broader definition. We know generous DC plans exist.  But, we also know that Ontarians would benefit from a predictable stream of income for life.

Right now, we’re busy analyzing all feedback to ensure we get the plan design right – I certainly welcome the recent feedback from the OCC as we work to finalize these decisions. My focus right now is ensuring we deliver the best plan possible.

We remain committed to working with business as we move forward with the implementation of the ORPP”

– Hon. Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

PanAm Games Torch Arrives In Style!


We’re thrilled to have been a part of the PanAm Games Torch run yesterday (June 17).  The Chamber’s nominee to carry the Torch, Doug Tarry, was part of the procession as it arrived at the west end of the city.  Also shown here, the Torch arriving for local ceremonies at the L&PS station downtown.  The Chamber says WELL DONE to 10 local runners who carried the Torch, and to our colleagues at Port Stanley Terminal Rail for making the arrival spectacular with a runner on the front of a PSTR locomotive.  Of 130 communities across Canada to welcome and host the PanAm Torch, we’re told that only two have included a railway in the welcome.  Nice work by all involved!!


A Canada that Wins


When the federal election is held this fall, and in the coming weeks and months leading up to it, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will join with our partners at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and in Chambers and Boards of Trade across Canada to bring four critical business issues front and centre.

Click here to view and/or download our position and policy information in a document we call “A Canada that Wins“.

This Affects ALL Employers

  • New Employment Standards Poster Requirement In Effect

Effective May 20, 2015, a 30-day window opened that requires employers in Ontario to provide all current employees with a copy of version 6.0 of the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards poster. Any new hires after May 20, 2015 must be given a copy within 30 days of their date of hire.  Ministry-prepared multi-language translations of the poster are available.  For the online path to the English version of the poster click here.

Members are welcome to call the Chamber office for links to additional information on this requirement.

A Celebration of Local Excellence





THANKS for a great night!


CONGRATULATIONS to our 2015 winners.

The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards Reception was held Wednesday May 13 at St. Anne’s Centre on Morrison Drive in St. Thomas.  To everyone who attended and supported our event, we humbly say thank-you.  The comments we have heard from people attending tell a great story. “I learned a lot tonight”… “Very heartfelt presentations”… “There are some truly amazing people here”.

We couldn’t agree more.

There were four winners in two categories this year.  2015 Free Enterprise Awards of Merit:  Sandra DiMeo of Ferguson DiMeo Lawyers; Elgin Travel & Cruises; and the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation.

One Free Enterprise Master Award was presented this year:  Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services for completing over 100 years in business and community service.  They became the first insurance brokerage ever to win this Award.

We are definitely #StThomasProud!  Congratulations to all of the 2015 winners.  You make our community a better place to be!

The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards are made possible with the support of our sponsors:

PROGRAM SPONSORS:  Gorman-Rupp of Canada; the Workforce Planning & Development Board; Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services; and the Elgin Business Resource Centre.

RECEPTION SPONSORS:  Graham Scott Enns LLP, Chartered Accountants; RBC Royal Bank; Fanshawe College St. Thomas Elgin Regional Campus; ARC Financial Group; and Quai du Vin Estate Winery.

MEDIA SPONSORS:  myFM 94.1 St. Thomas; Photos by MG; Freeman Audio Visual Canada.

Back From Ireland – See What You Missed

Our latest Chamber tour group has completed a 9-day tour of Ireland. They returned May 21.  The Strathroy & District Chamber co-ventured with the St. Thomas & District Chamber to offer this exclusive tour of southern Ireland with visits to Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny and even an overnight stay at the incredible Dromoland Castle.

Special thanks to Joyce Wilson for sharing some shots from what we’re told was an exceptional trip.





Where to now?

As we have for the past four years, the St. Thomas & District Chamber, along with other Chambers of Commerce regionally and across North America, can now offer exceptional group pricing on business and/or pleasure tours to destinations around the globe.  We will soon be considering our next offer.  China has, so far, been the most popular destination but we want  to hear from Members on wants and wishes.  Where would you like to go?  Let us know with a quick call or note to the Chamber office. Just hit the Contact Us tab above to reach us.



Ontario’s Budget 2015 – Analysis & Comments

Is the Province doing things for us – or to us?

Ontario’s 2015 Budget has been released and the staff at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have prepared a summary of issues that impact the business community.

Click here to see more.

Our View on the Federal Budget – Analysis Without Political Rhetoric


Unlike the politicians, the Chamber of Commerce network prides itself on having the capacity for detailed analysis and commentary on the federal budget without rhetoric and grandstanding.  Our goal is to share information that is useful and valuable to the people and communities we serve .

This is an election year, and this is undoubtedly an election budget. There is a strong emphasis on tax cuts for the (hardworking) Canadian families that will receive the bulk of federal largesse this year. Just the income splitting and the expanded universal child care benefit will cost $7.8 billion in 2015 and $4.5 billion per year thereafter. From innovation to infrastructure to the environment, this budget has something for everyone.

In fact, we at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce were pleasantly surprised by a number of the business-friendly tax adjustments and spending commitments. Back in the summer of 2014, the government was forecasting a $1.9 billion surplus on top of a $3 billion contingency fund. Then oil prices collapsed from $100 to $45 by the beginning of January and the Parliamentary Budget Officer expected that the resulting $5.5 billion hit to the federal treasury would leave a deficit of $400 million. Minister Oliver delayed the budget by a couple of months citing “economic uncertainty.”

Since then oil prices have recovered slightly, to around $56 this morning, and we expect them to be back in the $65 by year-end. The government also enjoyed a $3.4 billion windfall from the sale of GM shares. As a result, there is room for some helpful measures to support Canadian business, a few things that will make life easier for business, a couple of gimmicks and a nice healthy surplus of $1.4 billion.

Click here to read or download analysis prepared by the Canadian Chamber’s Chief Economist, Hendrik Brakel.

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