Tag: small business

The Unintended Consequences of a $15 minimum Wage

The provincial government has introduced legislation that will increase the current minimum wage by over 30% from $11.40 to $15.00 per hour over the next 18 months.

Small business owners are expressing concern about the size and, in particular, the timing of the changes. Chamber members share the Government’s desire for broadly inclusive growth. However, in order to achieve this, we need to ensure that we are not risking job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship as a result of over-regulation. The Ontario Government’s announcement of the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan which proposes numerous changes to current labour and employment standards legislation will go to committee over the summer months. 

The recommendations include:
  • Raising Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation
  • Mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies
  • Expanding personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers
  • Ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with a company
  • Updating employee scheduling rules, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.
The cost of all of these benefits will be borne by small business owners.  We believe the government has not yet fully understood the unintended consequences of these changes.   Chamber members have expressed their frustration and concern over rising costs and over regulation.

“It will impact our business cash flow and the costs will have to be passed on to the consumer.  Because taxes with source deductions are going to be higher. We are not against an increase if it is done in increments and not as a total 32% increase over a short period of time.” – Noel Lourenco, Boffo’s

Many affected employers have told us that these changes will have the opposite effect of what the Government is looking to achieve.  One small business owner told us that “Since higher costs for delivery will be passed down from the supplier to the merchant, it will result in inflation. I will be forced to pass the higher costs on to the consumer.” We have also heard from members who say the impact will be felt throughout their businesses.

“If something isn’t done this dramatic and unrealistic increase may force us to close our doors after being a Kerr Street merchant for the last 18 years.” – Dean MacLean, The Mermaid and The Oyster

Higher costs for employers will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers.  If the businesses cannot transfer these new costs to the consumer, employers will be looking to reduce overhead by cutting staff hours and possibly cutting the number of staff.  This will reduce the job opportunities available to youth and other low-skilled individuals who need employment.

While we understand the commendable intentions of these proposals, it is clear that the government can’t legislate prosperity.  Instead of creating more opportunity for workers, changes like these often have the opposite effect by reducing jobs and increasing the cost of living. That is why the Oakville Chamber and the Chamber network with the Keep Ontario Working Coalition  have called on the government to conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis.

As the provincial government moves this legislation through the committee process over the summer we urge them to truly understand the economic impact of these changes that have great potential to hurt job creation, consumer costs, and economic growth.  

How will this affect your business? Let us know: faye@oakvillechamber.com 


Ontario Premier to Address Oakville and Burlington Business Community at Chamber Luncheon

  The Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce on Friday, January 13. The Premier will be presenting on “A Balanced Plan to Build Ontario Up for Everyone”, outlining the Ontario government’s plan to grow Ontario’s economy and create jobs. “Our members represent a cross section of businesses of all sizes and sectors. This demonstrates their desire to be engaged within the community and to hear our political leaders first hand” stated Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We are very pleased the Premier has accepted our invitation to meet with our members.” Ms. Hughes further commented “Leaders tell us they very much appreciate speaking directly with our members. It gives them an opportunity to listen and interact with people in the real world who face the day-to-day challenges of operating a business.” Over the course of the summer both the Oakville and Burlington Chambers, along with Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across the province, engaged in the Small Business: Too Big to Ignore campaign, which highlighted the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigated the top barriers to small business growth. Following the campaign, the Ontario Chamber Network released their report Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario. The report identified and offered solutions to the most pressing challenges that Ontario small business owners face; including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario. “A key role for Chambers of Commerce is to bring people together and ensure there is meaningful dialogue” stated Marty Staz, Chair of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “This is why both the Burlington and Oakville Chambers of Commerce are pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity for our Members and their guests to hear the Premier speak. I am sure they are keen to hear directly from Ms. Wynne about her vision for the province and how it will affect the business community.” “I’m looking forward to Premier Wynne’s visit to Oakville” stated Kevin Flynn, MPP for Oakville. “Her choice is a clear indication of the respect the Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce have earned in Ontario’s economic circles. This visit offers the ideal opportunity to engage with their vibrant business communities on the progress we’re making as we continue to lead Canada, the United States, and all the G8 countries in business and economic growth.” Event Details Date: Friday, January 13, 2017 Time: 11:30am – 1:30am; The Premier speaks from 12:00pm – 12:30pm followed by a moderated Question and Answer forum Location: Oakville Conference Centre (2515 Wyecroft Road) Tickets: Members $35; Non-members $55 Register online through the events calendar, by phone at 905-845-6613, or e-mail info@oakvillechamber.com   The Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne Kathleen Wynne is Ontario’s 25th Premier. Since taking office in February 2013, some of Premier Wynne’s accomplishments include the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history and completing the single-largest climate change initiative in North America by eliminating coal-fired electricity generation in the province. She also introduced a ground-breaking plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. Premier Wynne’s economic plan for Ontario builds on her number-one priority: growing the economy and creating jobs. Her four-part plan invests in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. In addition to infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, transit, schools and hospitals, her plan is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement. Premier Wynne serves as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. During her first year as Premier, she also served as Minister of Agriculture and Food. Prior to becoming Premier, she served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Education. First elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2003 as the MPP for Don Valley West, Premier Wynne was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014. She became the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in January 2013.  On June 12, 2014 Premier Wynne’s government was re-elected with a majority mandate. Before becoming an MPP, Premier Wynne served as a trustee on the Toronto District School Board. Prior to that, she led citizens’ groups in a number of grassroots community projects and played a major role as an organizer and facilitator. Premier Wynne has lived with her partner, Jane, in North Toronto for more than 25 years. She has three children and three grandchildren.

The Success of Small Business Will Determine the Success of Ontario’s Economy

small-biz-report

The latest report by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce  highlights the contributions of small businesses to the provincial economy, while also identifying, and offering solutions to, the most pressing challenges that small business owners face. The report’s recommendations are the result of detailed consultations over the course of six months held by 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade with hundreds of small business owners throughout the province as part of the Ontario Chamber Network’s Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign. The campaign revealed that the three major barriers that small businesses face are Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions, a lack of access to the workers employers need, and government funding alignment on infrastructure projects. “In Oakville, local businesses are working hard to expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “The results of our 2016 Advocacy Survey showed that our members find rising costs to be the most significant factor impacting business and industry. Additionally, 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business, and almost 70% of respondents believe that current regulations are unreasonable and excessive. It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal government to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region,” added Hughes. The report also highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario. They contribute approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012. Given the significance of small businesses to the provincial economy, the Ontario Chamber Network urges the government to take immediate action to implement the following three recommendations in the near term:
  1. Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions
  2. Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.
  3. Have all three levels of government commit coordinated infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.
“Small businesses in Ontario are being held back by a diverse set of challenges that need to be addressed by all three levels of government.” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are encouraging the provincial government to implement our report’s recommendations so that we can ensure that our economy will have sustained economic growth for many years to come.” added O’Dette. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontario Chamber Network, encourages the provincial government to work closely with the employer community to implement the recommendations in the report. These recommendations will feature prominently in the Ontario Chamber Network’s advocacy work leading up to the 2018 provincial election. At that time, the advocacy organization will evaluate the political platforms of each party with a particular consideration as to how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario. Read the report: Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario

Save on Shipping with Canada Post through October for Small Business Month

We’re pleased to share that, as part of Small Business Month, our good member, Canada Post, is thanking Canada’s small business owners with free shipping on Tuesdays in October. This special offer entitles customers to one domestic Xpresspost™ or one Expedited™ parcel shipment at no cost every Tuesday in October. The offer is open to Canada Post Solutions for Small BusinessTM customers. To sign up for the program, customers can go to canadapost.ca/freetuesdays. A promotion code will appear on the page each Tuesday in October to take advantage of free shipments available online. Happy shipping!

Small Business: Too Big To Ignore

Nearly 3 million Ontarians are employed by small businesses of 100 or less employees, but the rising cost of doing business in the province is stunting their growth.   The Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is launched Small Business Too Big Too Ignore, a six month campaign that will highlight the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigate the top barriers to small business growth. Coinciding with the launch of this campaign, the Ontario Chamber also released its report, Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Growth, aimed at starting a conversation about the underlying challenges that are weighing on small businesses and stifling job creation.   In the report, the Chamber cites the rising cost of doing business as a major impediment to small business growth. In fact, Ontario Chamber survey results show that one in twenty businesses in the province expect to close their doors in the next five years due to rising electricity prices. In addition, 38 percent will see their bottom line shrink, with the cost of electricity delaying or canceling investment in the years to come.   “Rising electricity prices is just one of the many elements adding to the cost of doing business in the province,” said Kerry Colborrne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber. “The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is launching this campaign to take a look at how we can mitigate these types of costs by engaging both government and business leaders in a productive conversation to the answer the question ‘what exactly is ailing small business?’.”   In addition to the rising cost of doing business, the report also lists key infrastructure gaps and a lack of access to skilled workers as the top three obstacles weighing on small business. According to a recent Ontario Chamber survey, 39 percent of employers have had difficulty filling a job opening over the past year and a half – an increase of 11 percentage points since 2014.   “Building a 21st century workforce has been a cornerstone of our advocacy efforts for quite some time,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber. “We’ve seen tremendous progress on this file over the past few years but we recognize the need to foster greater connections between skilled workers and employers.”   Over the next six months, local chambers of commerce and boards of trade will hold consultations with small business owners throughout the province to identify the barriers that they face.   “Small businesses of 100 or less employees are the core of our membership and employ nearly 3 million Ontarians, which is why we’ve decided to undertake the Small Business Too Big Too Ignore campaign,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “The insights gained from the local chamber consultations will inform an upcoming Chamber report to be released during Small Business week in October 2016. We’re really looking forward to the feedback.”

Too Few Entrepreneurs Able to Scale Up Their Business: The Oakville Chamber of Commerce Report Identifies Six Barriers to Growth

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), released the report, Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge, which identifies the major roadblocks preventing Ontario businesses from expanding and presents recommendations to best support business owners in taking their ventures to the next stage of growth. According to the report, based on interviews with nearly two dozen business owners, sector associations, and other organizations, as well as a survey of over 350 Ontario business owners, too few entrepreneurs are continuing to build their business, or “scale up”, in the province. The report adds to a recent chorus of voices calling for governments, the business community, and other actors to build on the province’s entrepreneurial spirit by creating the conditions to enable our most promising firms to scale. “This is an important time to be talking about this issue faced by the Oakville business community.  We have a great opportunity to align with government to more effectively tackle this challenge. ” said Kerry Colborne, Chair, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. To position Ontario for long-term success, the report proposes recommendations to address six specific barriers preventing businesses from growing, which includes a lack of access to talent with scale up experience, gaps in the right kinds of financing, and lower incentives to growth offered through public programs. Chief among the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations are for governments to improve businesses’ access to talent in the short-term by creating a scale-up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent. According to an OCC survey, 63 percent of businesses that are looking to grow face a talent shortage. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce also encourages governments to gain a better understanding of where current gaps exist in the Canadian financing landscape. Other recommendations of the report include:
  • Realign public programs and incentives to focus supports on high-growth firms
  • Encourage greater international trade activity by linking more business support programs to trade
  • Improve access to public and private anchor customers by leveraging procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses
  • Enable accurate measurement and monitoring of the scale up challenge by ensuring collaboration between Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data
The OCC’s survey also revealed that the cost of doing business remains a top issue for Ontario employers as 69 percent of business owners looking to grow identified this as a barrier. Through its advocacy efforts on other key policy issues, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the OCC, continues to highlight the cost of doing business as a major challenge facing Ontario’s business community. Survey conducted online between March 3 and April 11, 2016. N=359.

These Three Businesses are Thriving in Kerr Village

Elm Hill CookiesThe Oakville Chamber of Commerce recently visited three businesses in the Kerr Village BIA to learn about their products and offer chamber members an opportunity to discover some of the unique retailers situated in this eclectic and welcoming community.

Elm Hill Cookies

There’s no place quite like Elm Hill Cookies, where the sweet aroma of freshly baked cookies is only surpassed by the taste of these scrumptious baked treats. A sprinkling of tables and chairs invite visitors to stay in this cozy and charming shop to indulge their sweet tooth. Owner, Janis Smith, opened the doors to this unique shop in 2010 and her reputation for supplying mouth-watering cookies has been growing steadily. “The cookies are baked fresh every morning,” says Janis who has turned cookie making into an art form. “Our focus is on taste, not decoration, and providing an experience like no other.” Judging by the assortment of bars and cookies in the glass showcase, it’s hard to believe the beauty of the cookie comes second. But maybe that’s a good thing – these morsels are too tasty for mere gazing. All baking is done in the kitchen, situated at the back of the store, from the dough to the toffee in the Oat Toffee Crunch Cookie. Compromising on freshness and quality is not an option, says Janis, which is why she has no plans to expand beyond her Kerr Street shop, except through wholesale. Today, a number of retailers across the GTA now stock Elm Hill Cookies on their shelves. She also offers businesses corporate gifts which can be customized to suit any budget. When asked what is the most-requested cookie, Janis is hesitant. “For a hundred people that come through the door, there’s a hundred different tastes, but if I had to choose, it would be the Kerr Street Cookie and the Carrot Pumpkin Whoopee Pie.” She makes a good point – having to choose just one cookie is a next-to-impossible feat for anyone who visits Elm Hill Cookies.

Jenso Upholstering

jenso upholsteryJenso Upholstering has been breathing new life into furniture with impeccable quality since 1991. Starting out of the basement of their home, this family-run business moved to its current Oakville location in Kerr Village in 1996 where they’ve specialized in upholstering, drapery, slip-covers, and re-finishing ever since. “We get all kinds of requests,” says Suzette Jeffers-Smith. “We’ll do it all. From re-upholstering motorcycle seats to making custom headboards, our priority is craftsmanship. And, that’s what we’ve become known for through word-of-mouth.” Much of the furniture that comes through Jenso’s doors are anywhere from one year to twenty years old. Customers often recognize the quality of an older piece of furniture and would prefer to give it a facelift than risk buying a new piece of lower quality with a potentially shorter life. “Everything we do is custom,” explains Suzette. “We go right to the bone of your furniture and replace with only high quality material.” When asked about do-it-yourselfers, Suzette concedes that they are happy to offer them whatever resources they need from fabrics to high-quality eco-friendly foam because of the recent rise in customer requests. However, she cautions DIY customers that sometimes it’s worth it to use the professionals if the intent is to use the upcycled piece of furniture for another 20 years. “I will tell customers the truth,” Suzette admits. “If a piece of furniture has good bones, I’ll recommend they keep it and fix it. But I’ll also tell them if it’s not worth fixing, even if it means admitting that a one-year-old sofa just isn’t high enough quality to do an expensive repair.” With an increasing awareness of the environment and the desire to reduce, re-use and recycle, the interest in reupholstering is not likely to wane anytime soon; that’s good news for Jenso. With their eye for good quality and commitment to delivering fine craftsmanship, it’s quite possible the facelift they provide a piece of furniture may result in a product even better than when it was first purchased.

The Mermaid and the Oyster Seafood Market

Mermaid and OysterThe Mermaid and the Oyster evokes a Maritime feel the second one walks into this seafood market and bistro. This comes as no surprise considering the owner, Dean Maclean, grew up in PEI, moving to Ontario when he was 24 years old to start a business selling lobsters to wholesalers. That idea evolved into this Kerr Street Village gem. They specialize in fresh seafood and oyster shucking, as well as offer a hearty selection of Maritime-worthy dishes served in their casual bistro. Customers who visit the store appreciate the fisherman-level knowledge of every piece of seafood sold. “We know all about what we sell,” says Dean. “Unlike a grocery store where the level of expertise isn’t necessarily available, we can tell you where it came from, how to cook it, and make recommendations based on what the customer is looking for.” Dean, however, spends a large portion of his time shucking oysters. The Mermaid and the Oyster will set up oyster stations to shuck for up to 70 events a month during the busy summer season at weddings, bars or poolside parties. “We’ve become well-known for our oysters over the past ten years,” explains Dean. “It wasn’t easy, but we slowly built our reputation and now have a great clientele.” Now that the holiday season is in full swing, the orders for lobsters and seafood platters are a popular choice for party menus. As the current Chair of the Kerr Village BIA, Dean is thrilled with the area improvements that have taken place over the past few years and is committed to continuing the pace in this up-and-coming community. He has no intention of leaving any time soon because, he explains, Kerr Village will only get better. This article is published in the November-December issue of the Business Advocate Magazine. Photos courtesy of Janet Bedford. 

Discover the Value of Our Business After Hours Events – Video

Every second Wednesday of the month, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce hosts our Business After Hours event from 5pm to 7pm in partnership with one of our valuable members. It provides business owners and professionals the opportunity to connect, build business networks, and establish stronger community ties while enjoying a glass of wine and savoury appetizers. On May 14th, Porsche Oakville hosted the event in partnership with The Oakville Hospital Foundation. One of our most successful BAH’s of the year, it offers a glimpse into one of the many valuable benefits to being a Member of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Watch the video below, produced by InBold Media, to find out more. Interested in coming to our BAH? Check out our Events Calendar. Are you between the ages of 19 and 40? You may be interested in attending our Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs Group events.