The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce attended the Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM and Convention from May 6-7, and brought two policy resolutions to the floor, both of which were passed.

 

Policies: 

 

Submitted by the Richmond Hill Board of Trade, Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, and Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

 

Submitted by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

 

Click Here to view full Compendium of Policy-Resolutions, 2017-2020

The 28th Annual Business Achievement Awards was held on Thursday, April 6th, 2017 at Universal EventSpace.

Almost 30 years ago, the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce established the Business Achievement Awards to celebrate business excellence in the City of Vaughan. Today, we have more reason than ever to celebrate! The 2017 Business Achievement Awards bestowed the highest recognition to 12 outstanding organizations and business people. Congratulations to all of the nominees and to our 2017 winners!

  • Small Business, Under 25 Employees – Sponsor: City of Vaughan, VBEC
    WINNER: Great To Hear Inc.
  • Young Entrepreneur Under 40 – Sponsor: Bell Canada
    WINNER: John Amendola – snapd Newspaper & Our Brands Media
  • Consumer Business/ Retail – Sponsor: BMO Bank of Montreal
    WINNER: Seacore Seafood Inc.
  • Construction Services & Product – Sponsor: Business Development Bank
    WINNER: G&L Group
  • Environmental Leadership – Sponsor: Alectra
    WINNER: H2Flow Equipment Inc.
  • Manufacturing In Innovation – Sponsor: CIBC
    WINNER: Macrodyne Technologies Inc.
  • Non-Profit/ Charity – Sponsor: TD Commercial Banking
    WINNER: Meta Centre
  • Hospitality & Entertainment – Sponsor: Royal LePage Your Community Realty, Brokerage
    WINNER: Reptilia Inc.
  • Professional Services – Sponsor: RBC Royal Bank
    WINNER: Masters Insurance Limited
  • Restaurants & Food Services – Sponsor: CN Rail
    WINNER: Grazie Ristorante
  • Builders, Developers & General Contractors – Sponsor: Miller Thomson LLP
    WINNER: OPUS Homes

A special congratulations to this year’s Philanthropic Business Person of the Year, Anna and Nick De Luca, for their contributions and hard work through Nicky’s Dream Foundation.


See more on the 2017 Business Achievement Awards
Check out event photos here

Thank you KPMG for 31 YEARS of support! #VCC40th 🎉Celebrate with us 👉 http://vaughanchamber.ca/40th/ #Vaughan







40th-anniversary-banner

 

We’re excited to kick off 2017, and thrilled to be celebrating a phenomenal milestone… the 40th Anniversary of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce!

Rather than write some eloquent piece about the Chamber’s upbringings, principles and product enhancements, let me just say that we couldn’t be prouder to be Bringing Together Vaughan’s Business Community!

We have lots in store throughout 2017 to celebrate our milestone. Notice our freshly minted 40th Anniversary commemorative logo, watch out for some exciting throwbacks and shout-outs in upcoming newsletters, as well as creative social media pieces, and look forward to our 40th Anniversary BBQ celebration taking place this summer.

Forty years could not be possible without the continued support of our loyal, entrepreneurial and community-inspired members. Thank you all!

Brian Shifman
President & CEO
Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

Q&A with Fiorina Riga, Membership Representative 

A: There are many ways to advertise with the chamber that give your business great exposure. You can advertise right here in our e-newsletter, which reaches over 5500 chamber members and contacts.

Another great advertising opportunity is in our community banners, which we print annually. You buy a space on the banner and we put your logo on it showcasing your business wherever we go. We bring our banners to every event we attend and they are also always on display in our boardroom at the Vaughan Chamber office.

If you’re looking to get more involved with event sponsorship, there are many sponsor levels you can take advantage of. Whether you’re a small or large business, we have opportunities that fit all your needs!

 

Don’t hesitate to contact Fiorina Riga for all your membership questions.

Fiorina Riga
Membership Representative
905-761-1366 Ext. 225
fiorina @ vaughanchamber.ca

Contact Fiorina if you would like to:
» Become a member, or know more about member benefits
» Inquire about the Membership Committee
» Inquire about ‘Vaughan Chamber Connects’ sessions
» Access Document Certification services

The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce constantly looks for ways to promote and give value to our members. We were very excited to launch a new competition – The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce Pitch Contest – this past summer.

We were so proud to see so many businesses submit their videos highlighting their businesses and why they love the Vaughan Chamber. But of course, there can only be one winner of the contest. A panel of judges got together to review all the submissions. Their critiques were based on the contestant’s introduction, their pitch, and their Vaughan Chamber love.

 

Without further ado, we would like to present the winner of the Pitch Contest….

Mary Patrick of Dave & Buster’s

Mary has been awarded with a $150 Pre-Paid VISA! Check out Mary’s Pitch

See All Pitches

 

obstacles-and-opportunitiesNew Report by Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in partnership with the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce (VCC), released the report Obstacles and Opportunities: The Importance of Small Business in Ontario. The report 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 twenty five chambers of commerce and boards of trade with hundreds of small business owners throughout the province as part of the OCC’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 Vaughan, local businesses are working hard to expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” said Brian Shifman, President and CEO of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. “It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal governments to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region.”

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 OCC 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 OCC. “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.”

The OCC 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 OCC’s 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 focus on how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario.

Read the Report

by Pauline James, owner of Anchor HR Services Inc & Vaughan Chamber Government Relations Committee Member

The Ministry of Labour has commissioned an independent ‘Changing Workplaces Review’ to identify updates needed to ensure Ontario’s Employment Legislation reflects today’s economy.
The government is particularly interested in introducing measures to address what are considered vulnerable workers in precarious jobs. The challenge, as noted in the study, is to effect positive change without comprising Ontario companies’ ability to compete nationally and internationally.
For each regulation contemplated a number of recommendations are presented as options, including maintaining the status quo. It is recognized that the purpose of the interim report is to promote discussion on the array of proposed options. Many of the recommendations are thoughtful and positive; it is in all parties’ best interest to have an effective infrastructure to promote decency at work and consistency in basic employee rights across Ontario workplaces. There are a number of recommendations, however, that could have a detrimental impact on employers, if implemented.

It has been noted that employer voices, for the most part, have been fairly quiet during the initial consultations. The Changing Workplaces Interim report, as well as instruction on how you can provide comments, ideas and suggestions can be found here:
https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/workplace/

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has prepared the following “Keep Ontario Working” summary report for review and consideration:
http://www.occ.ca/media-release/13100/

The following summary is meant to highlight some key recommendations and potential concerns for employers. Given its length and the nuances that will impact employers differently, it is not a report that can be summarized easily. Companies are encouraged to review the interim report and the Ontario Chamber’s response carefully and submit their questions and concerns before October 14th, 2016 to ensure their important voices are heard.

Labour Relations Act (LRA) recommendations designed to promote an increase in union density in Ontario
The decline in unionization in Ontario is argued to be related to an increase in vulnerable workers who are fearful of complaining about violations of the law. As well, the report focuses on employer disinterest and opposition in employees unionizing as contributing to the lower levels of unionization in Ontario.
A number of recommendations regarding the LRA have been made for consideration, including:

  • Maintaining the status quo
  • Eliminate some or most of the current exclusions to provide broader access to collective bargaining, including members of architectural, dental, land surveying, legal or medical profession and domestic workers employed in a private home
  • Expanding requirements to require ‘Lead Employer’ to be at the bargaining table with subcontractors, outsourcers, franchises, temporary help agencies
  • Replacing secret ballot voting process with card based certification
  • Requiring employers to provide a list of employees, with their contact information to the union, once a certain level of interest is demonstrated
  • Offsite, Telephone or Internet Voting
  • Remove ability for employers to use ‘replacement workers’ during a labour dispute
  • Enact a model which supports some form of minority unionism and/or an institutional mechanism for expression of employee interests in the plans and policies of employers

 

The report states “…among employers in the non-unionized private and public sector, there is little appreciation of – and perhaps little sympathy for – the constitutional right of Canadians to… join a union… there is little enthusiasm for changes to the law that may make it easier to unionize.”
We would suggest that there is nothing nefarious with employers preferring to have a direct relationship with their employees. In any other aspect of life, we would recognize that only being comfortable speaking to another through a third party is a sure sign of a broken relationship. This preference, however, should not be confused with those who flaunt the law.
At present, there are regulations in place to address those who do not respect employees’ right to choose to be represented by a third party. Our current labour laws are crafted to address the power imbalance employers are considered to have in the employment relationship. Employers are restricted in what they can say and do during union organizing campaigns. Threatening employees and advising they may lose certain benefits if they unionize is already, rightfully, considered unlawful. Employers are not able to make promises about improving workplace benefits and conditions, but unions are. If unions overpromise, this has been found to be an acceptable form of ‘electioneering’.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) has a number of remedies at its disposal when employers engage in such improper activities, including ordering a second vote or remedial certification. This means, if an employer engages in egregious behaviour during a campaign, the Labour Board can grant the union certification, despite what the vote count was.
The threshold for a union to be awarded certification is only 50%+1, of those who vote. Is there evidence to support employees are not voting in line with their own preference? It would be helpful to see a current academic study similar to the 2013 Leger/LabourWatch Poll, which found the following when employees were asked:

It is notable that, in this study, that the majority of those who were formerly unionized also indicated they would prefer not to be. *http://www.labourwatch.com/docs/research/Leger_State_of_the_Unions_October_2013_Report.pdf

It would also be helpful to see data that considers whether employee engagement, that is surveys that measure the qualitative experience of employees, tends to be higher in unionized workplaces or non-union workplaces?
In order to preserve employees’ right to democratically decide if they want to unionize, it is important to preserve the right to confidential votes. We would never suggest that the candidate, at any level of government, who collects the most signatures win the right to represent a constituency. It is also important that certification votes are easy to access for all employees in the workplace and continue to be permitted to be on the employer’s site. Evidence of employer interference at the time of voting has not been provided; such votes are conducted by the OLRB and scrutinized by both a union and employer representative.
The report states that the Employment Standards Act (ESA), which sets out minimum standards in the workplace, is often viewed as ineffective without sufficient enforcement tools to deal with employer non-compliance. It seems there is an appetite to encourage and foster an environment that promotes an increase in unionization in Ontario to address this. Is it fair to imply that those who are more vulnerable need to unionize to achieve decency at work? Are there other opportunities to educate employers on their obligations as well as making employees aware of the protections our government rightfully provides without having to organize?

Employment Standards Act (ESA) recommendations to broaden protections and minimum entitlements for Ontario employees
The ESA sets out minimum entitlements for Ontario employees. It has been noted that “employers have expressed concern about the complexity of the ESA and the difficulty in understanding and applying it.”
A key priority for amendments contemplated is to improve the protections available to vulnerable workers and those working in precarious jobs. There is much discussion on the vulnerability of those who are working for low pay, with few or no benefits and for temporary help agencies as well as those who are contract, seasonal or casual workers, solo self-employed, or multiple job holders, with a low paying primary job. There is also concern for the expansion of employees reported as independent contractors, who may be more appropriately considered employees.
A number of recommendations regarding the LRA have been made for consideration including:

  • Status Quo for each article contemplated
  • Education and/or enforcement to address employees misclassified as independent contractors
  • Expanding definition of employee to include ‘dependent contractor’
  • Liability under ESA flowing up to ‘Lead Employer’ for subcontractors, outsource providers, temp agencies, and franchisees
  • Restrictions on use of temporary help agencies
  • Removal of exemptions for a number of sectors and professions including:
    • Managers and supervisors
    • Information technology professionals, pharmacists, residential care workers
    • Special minimum rates for students under 18 and liquor servers
  • Provisions to regulate the scheduling, such as requirements to provide advance notice, additional payment for late changes to schedule, increased minimum shift requirements
  • Increasing paid vacation requirements, entitlements at termination, and access to paid sick leave, based on thresholds
  • Expansion of entitlement of up to ten (10) unpaid Personal Emergency Leave days to employers with less than 50 employees
  • Requirement for an employer to have ‘just cause’ to terminate employment, after a certain period of employment

 

The recommendations proposed under the LRA and ESA regarding ‘Lead Employers’ are concerning. Many business models rely on the commercial relationships they have with service providers or franchisors/franchises. The interim report expresses concern that such relationships may be designed to thwart employment related liability. It is important to consider that most companies do not direct the terms of employment for sub-contractors or franchises. If a ‘Lead Employer’ crosses the line and exercises such control and direction, there are already legal tests to identify and remedies to address. To extend liability more broadly under the LRA and ESA could significantly disrupt current commercial structures and future investment in Ontario.
Rather than amend or remove the exemptions under the ESA for Managers and, it is suggested that education be provided on what entitlements currently exist. There is often a misunderstanding on who qualifies for overtime. Many employers and employees wrongly assume that to be a salary employee is to forgo the right to overtime. This is not the case; such employees must perform work that is supervisory or managerial in character and only perform non-supervisory or non-managerial tasks on an “irregular or exceptional basis”.
The implications and costs of any final recommendations need to be balanced with ensuring companies are able to run efficient and competitive organizations. Increasing the cost of labour, broad based regulations, imposing ‘just cause’ tests on all terminations, will impact the ability of Ontario companies to swiftly adapt to thrive and attract the talent needed in our fast paced economy.
In addition to providing appropriate and needed protections to vulnerable workers, we would like to see a legislative framework that enables workplaces to be competitive, high performing, innovative, and provide a positive employee experience. Many companies have been investing, on their own accord, in employee surveys and analysis for decades to drive employee engagement and performance. Promoting employer education on the ESA entitlements and equitable access to research on employee engagement would arguably do more for employers and their workforce than promoting rigid, administratively burdensome one size fits all solutions.

Download Printer Version

occ-advocacy-wins

Gaining the attention of Ontario’s political leaders and shaping a meaningful dialogue with key decision makers in government is a cornerstone of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce’s (VCC) advocacy strategy. We continue to draw upon the strength of the Chamber Network in order to positively influence the development of our province’s public policy.

This year, the VCC attended the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) inaugural Queen’s Park Advocacy Day. At this event, VCC staff and our Government Relations Committee Co-Chairs had the opportunity to meet with government officials to discuss the issues affecting you, our members and the local community. Topics of conversation included, ORPP, the sharing economy, climate change, and the challenges affecting the labour market. This is just one example of how the OCC facilitates face-to-face access with senior government leaders and decision makers to effect positive change in the development of our province’s public policy. Through your membership with the VCC, your issues are part of a larger advocacy strategy that is advanced by the Ontario Chamber Network and the OCC. This year, we have championed a number of policies, and we have received encouraging feedback from both the provincial and federal government.

The initial announcement of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan raised great concerns over increased regulatory fragmentation, administrative burden and economic consequences for businesses. This resulted in the OCC immediately stepping to the forefront of the discussion and leading a coalition of organizations to mitigate the overall financial impact of the plan. Meanwhile, the OCC led the Chamber Network in working toward our stated, preferred option to support a national Canadian Pension Plan enhancement instead of a stand-alone ORPP. This option avoids increased regulatory fragmentation and thus administrative burden – avoiding significant consequences for Ontario’s business community. The collective, strong advocacy of the Chamber Network on this file was a key motivating factor to encourage the province to seek a compromise.

In order to thrive, Ontario businesses need affordable electricity. In response to increasing electricity prices, we called on the Ontario government to provide greater transparency in energy pricing. In March 2016, the provincial government released an updated Ontario Energy Report that included an industrial price chart providing a clearer cost picture for many businesses.

In recent years the topic of regulatory reform has become a priority for Ontario businesses. As a response to this we called on the province to adopt a crowd-sourced approach to regulatory change where the public could submit comments and suggest changes to the regulations that impact them. This spring the Ontario government announced the Red Tape Challenge, an initiative encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them. For more information on the Red Tape Challenge visit www.ontario.ca/page/red-tape-challenge.ca

Infrastructure is critical to business success and economic growth. In many communities across Ontario, lack of broadband infrastructure inhibits business growth, and the issue will become more acute in the future as demands for cloud storage and high-speed access increase. This is why we urged the federal government to move beyond its Connecting Canadians initiative and invest in critical broadband infrastructure. In the most recent budget, the federal government announced that it is investing $500 million over five years in a new program to increase high-speed broadband service in rural and remote communities.

The VCC has been the voice of local business for decades. It is because of our unwavering advocacy work, in cooperation with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, that employers in Vaughan have had a powerful collective voice at the Government’s negotiating table. This year, we look forward to continuing to break down the barriers that impede our community’s economic growth.

SmallBusiness_Logo_Partner

The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce (VCC), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Ontario Chamber Network is proud to be a part of the ambitious campaign, Small Business: Too Big To Ignore.

This campaign highlights the important contributions of small businesses to our economy and communities, and actively engaged small businesses across the province to investigate the top barriers to small business growth – and identify solutions to overcome those challenges. To kick off this campaign the OCC has released the report, Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Success.

A strong and vibrant small business sector is important for all business. Small businesses are the wealth creators, job creators and risk takers. Small businesses have important relationships with big businesses as part of the economic ecosystem. Big businesses are often highly dependent on small businesses as suppliers, distributors, customers, innovators, and for developing a skilled and experienced workforce to draw from. Small businesses also make up the majority of our local membership, our volunteers, and are often the people actively involved in community service.

The VCC lead a discussion in our community about the underlying challenges that are weighing on small businesses and stifling job creation. This session took place, September 7th, 2016. Our recommendations were sent to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to include in their final report – to be released during Small Business Week.

Small Business Too Big To Ignore Session Summary

Lack of Access to the Workers We Need

  1. As part of the mandatory career course offered at high school, the government must do a better job of predicting future job trends and enabling students to match their skills to future job demand areas.
  2. Universities aren’t doing an adequate job of preparing students for the job search process – setting realistic expectations, working with them to explore what jobs would be suitable for their interests and skillset, and developing the skills needed to search for the right job opportunities. This lack of preparedness is resulting in a disillusioned graduate pool who are projecting negatively on the education system.
  3. Changes proposed in the Changing Workplace Review with regards to contractual employment, will be severely detrimental to small business, and could prevent them from entering the marketplace and/or limit their chances of survival in a competitive marketplace. The ‘Just Cause’ dismissal provision would create an onerus environment whereby businesses would be involved in lengthy activities to justify their staffing decisions, redirecting their energy and focus to non-business development activities.
  4. It is essential that applications for unionization continue to be based on democratic and confidential votes. Card signing unionization does not respect the employees’ right to choose to unionize and/or to remain non-unionized. Democratic votes are essential to preserve employees’ right to make a confidential choice.

 

Key Infrastructure Gaps

  1. High focus infrastructure projects require a level of pre-planning that would allow last minute budget releases to be spent in a targeted and effective manner. Municipalities must have existing relationships with vendors that would allow for quick RFP and contract allocations, thereby supporting the urgent spending of funds that are released late in the year for purchases by fiscal year end.  In fact, to take this point one step further, there should be an acknowledgement and accommodation for funds that are earmarked for infrastructure spending, noting that meaningful infrastructure projects can rarely be completed within a few months and the funds should be held in trust for completion of projects that require a 1+ year completion time.  The current budget process encourages wasteful spending based on the – ‘spend the allocated budget this year at all costs or risk losing the budget allocation next year’ – mentality.
  2. Unfocussed infrastructure budget allocation causes significant downtime for small businesses where they are paying employees who are unable to perform their duties, for example, broadband issues can cause a small business to have several employees sitting for hours, unable to perform their duties, resulting in lost revenue and increased staffing costs for businesses who are already struggling to stay alive.

 

Rising Cost of Doing Business

  1. Proposed changes in the Changing Workplace Review will force small businesses to hire full-time/part-time workers as opposed to contract workers, even though their needs/requirements may change month over month. As a small growing start-up business needs are rarely known at the beginning and will evolve over time, but having to hire full-time employees can cripple a small business.
  2. Rising costs are preventing businesses from entering the marketplace and are preventing existing businesses from expanding or growing, specifically of note are the rising electricity rates, taxes, and the potential increase of the minimum wage.
  3. Businesses want transparency on the rising cost of electricity; that provides a forthright explanation of why Ontarians are being forced to pay some of the highest electricity rates, even though we are the largest producer of electricity.
    As part of this explanation, we ask – Is there not evidence in other parts of the country that points to provincial consumers reaping the rewards for being in a commodity rich province, i.e. Alberta gas prices vs. Ontario gas prices.
  1. Small businesses are penalized for having to use electricity during peak energy periods while larger businesses are given rate breaks because they are large consumers. Is there a way to view small business as a single business category and to provide incentives to small businesses whom are currently struggling to pay for the rising cost of doing business?

 

@VaughanChamber