Canadian Amazon workers are forming unions. What happens next?

by Nick Redekop

Whether we are talking about the Canadian or American landscape, there are vast implications that come with Amazon unionization. Photo Credit: Amazon Jobs.  It has been a significant spring for labour relations in Canada. Not only have there been several major unions threatening to go on strike from coast to coast, but landmark events are […]

Railway collective bargaining negotiations in context

by Nick Redekop

It is a distinct possibility that the new contracts will eventually have to be settled through binding arbitration. Photo Credit: iStock.  Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City Limited (CPKC) are currently in the process of negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with their employees. While a stoppage has not yet commenced, the workers […]

Workers complete the “golden weld” of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on April 11, 2024 in the Fraser Valley between Hope and Chilliwack, B.C. The project saw mechanical completion on April 30, 2024. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation   It is a game changer for Canada that will have ripple effects around the world.   The […]

CRA’s bare trust flip-flop cost nearly $1 billion

by Jay Goldberg

The CRA said it made the decision to delay these new rules because the change had “an unintended impact on Canadians.” Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images.  The Canada Revenue Agency’s new rules for bare trust reporting cost Canadians more than $900 million, according to a survey of Canadian accounting firms. The irony is that these […]

Survey finds Canadian women want more balanced energy policy

by Will Gibson

32% of engaged women disagree that current energy policies are right for them and their families. Photo Credit: Canadian Energy Centre.  A new survey has found a growing number of Canadian women are concerned about the effect energy policies, such as the federal carbon tax, have on the affordability of their day-to-day lives.  The Leger […]

“It’s like we’re finally at the table and we’re having to fight to keep our seat at the table.” Pictured: Indigenous leaders meeting with Japan’s ambassador to Canada Kanji Yamanouchi. Photo Credit: Energy for a Secure Future.  A proposed cap on oil and gas emissions will threaten opportunities for Indigenous communities to bring cleaner alternatives […]

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida speaks during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau, Germany on June 26, 2022 as (L-R) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz look on. Getty Images photo   Canada’s proposed oil and gas emissions cap sends a conflicting message to allies in Asia, according to a prominent energy […]

New deal with global gas giant Shell shows Canada is on the map for LNG: specialist

by Deborah Jaremko

A worker at Shell’s Hazira LNG import terminal, about 250 kilometers from Mumbai, India. Photo courtesy Shell   A new 20-year deal by global energy giant Shell to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG) from British Columbia is a sign Canada is becoming a player in global LNG markets, says an industry specialist.  Shell has agreed to […]

After a major cold spell affected the capacity of Alberta’s power grid to provide electricity, experts weigh in on the need for multiple sources of energy. Photo Credit: Canadian Energy Centre.    The crucial need for Canada to have a flexible and diverse energy grid was given a practical demonstration this past weekend as frigid […]

Oil and gas: Canada’s richest natural resource

by Deborah Jaremko

Energy assets valued at more than $40,000 per Canadian in 2022, StatsCan data shows. Photo Credit: ARC Resources. The value of Canada’s energy resources is more than 75 times greater than the country’s other natural resources combined, according to new data from Statistics Canada.   Led by the oil sands, Canada’s oil, gas and coal assets […]

Natural gas processing facility in Alberta. Photo courtesy Alberta Energy Regulator   Data shows work industry is doing to reduce its environmental footprint New data released in 2023 shows the progress Canada’s oil and gas industry is making to reduce its environmental footprint. From emissions to water use and reclamation, here are some key performance […]

Explained: Carbon contracts for difference and CCS projects in Canada

by Deborah Jaremko

Oil sands worker at the Quest CCS project near Edmonton, Alberta. Photo courtesy Pathways Alliance Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a proven technology to reduce emissions from industrial operations.   As work to fight climate change accelerates, today there are more CCS projects in development around the world than ever before.   Led by Alberta, Canada […]

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.   The federal government is proceeding with its plans to cap emissions from the oil and gas industry in a move business leaders say will ultimately hurt Indigenous […]

Supreme Court: Developers Liable for Safety Despite Contracting Out

by Sheryl Johnson

Supreme Court ruling confirms City of Sudbury’s liability as an ’employer’ in construction safety case, setting a precedent impacting developers’ responsibilities under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld   The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) on November 10, 2023, released its decision in R. v. Greater Sudbury (City) […]

A truck approaches Wapisiw Lookout, the first reclaimed tailings pond in the oil sands industry. Photo credit: Suncor Energy   A widely-circulated article this week by the Associated Press misrepresents Canada’s oil sands industry by ignoring its progress improving environmental performance and its commitment to achieving climate targets.   Here are the facts.   Fact: Canadian oil is not […]

A Matter of Fact: How the oil sands benefits Canadians

by Deborah Jaremko

SAGD oil sands project in northern Alberta. Photo courtesy Cenovus Energy   Industry contributes $9 billion to $10 billion per year to government revenues across the country. The oil sands industry in northern Alberta is one of Canada’s most important resources. The industry provides reliable energy supply as well as jobs, taxes and government revenues […]

Ontario – Not Open for Business

by Catherine Swift

Photo Credit: Pexels   When the Ford Conservatives first won government in Ontario in 2018, the mood in the business community was buoyant. After almost 15 years of anti-business Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, change was desperately needed. Detrimental Liberal policies, including extreme “green energy” laws that greatly increased energy costs, intrusive […]

A Matter of Fact: IEA World Energy Outlook sees long future for oil and gas

by Deborah Jaremko

Oil sands project in northern Alberta. Photo supplied to Canadian Energy Centre   The world needs more Canadian energy, not less The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its latest outlook for global energy supply and demand through 2050.  Oil and gas will continue to be central to energy markets even as the world moves more […]

To reduce emissions, the world needs more LNG: report

by Deborah Jaremko

Wood Mackenzie says spending needs to rise by $400 billion over the next decade. Photo credit: Facebook/LNG Canada   An additional $400 billion investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects around the world is needed over the next decade to ensure energy security and achieve emissions reductions, according to a new report by Wood Mackenzie.   Without increased […]

Oil and gas in our lives: farming

by Cody Ciona

Without oil and gas, Canada would not be the world’s fifth largest exporter of agricultural products. Photo credit: Pexels/Matt Jerome Connor   With fall in full swing, Canada’s farmers are hard at work harvesting the various grains and crops that help keep the country and the world fed.   Diesel and gasoline help power trucks, tractors […]

More Canadian crude than ever is heading overseas, but many of the tankers aren’t leaving from Canada’s shores. Photo credit: Pexels/Jeffry Surianto   Canada’s relationship with the United States as virtually its only customer for oil exports has finally begun to break, according to a leading energy analyst.   More volumes than ever of Canadian oil […]

International Energy Agency’s updated net zero scenario is still unrealistic

by Deborah Jaremko

Canada can lead the world with reliable, affordable energy supply and clean technology as countries work to reduce emissions. Photo credit: Cenovus    The International Energy Agency (IEA) has updated its net zero scenario, pushing for governments to implement more aggressive climate policies on the energy industry.   The IEA itself acknowledges the scenario is “a pathway, […]

Oil and gas companies lead top performing stocks on the TSX

by Deborah Jaremko

Highlights ‘the importance of oil and gas in the world’s energy mix for years to come’. Photo credit: Toronto Stock Exchange   For the second year in a row, oil and gas companies are the best performers on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). More than half of the businesses in the annual TSX30 – a ranking of […]

Having ‘confidence’ in your contractual relationships

by Sheryl Johnson

On the ongoing confidentiality obligations of former employees, NDAs, and more. Photo credit: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki   Many employers have trade secrets and other proprietary interests relating to commercially sensitive materials and information. Such information may include intellectual property rights like patents, copyrights, trademarks, and client and prospective client lists that they have significantly invested in.  […]

Why Canadian banks should continue to invest in and finance the oil and gas sector

by Gina Pappano

Canadians live the way we do because we have one of the most productive, innovative, and responsible energy industries in the world. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   “The Canadian banking system is well-known for its strength and stability and the sector is an essential contributor to the country’s economic growth and well-being. Canadians rely on […]

Energy literacy providers push for balanced, sustainable future

by Canadian Energy Centre

‘Energy forms and sources are a complex mix, and one doesn’t need to be at the expense of another’. Pictured: This summer Inside Education hosted 24 teachers from eight provinces and territories to explore energy development in Alberta as part of its Energy Futures program. Photo credit: Inside Education via Canadian Energy Centre   Alberta […]

Duty to mitigate extended to independent contractors under fixed term contracts?

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Pexels/Pixabay   The recent Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) decision in Monterosso v. Metro Freightliner Hamilton Inc., 2023 ONCA 413, the Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) (“Metro Freightliner”) extends the duty to mitigate their damages upon the early termination of a fixed-term agreement (i.e., take reasonable steps to reduce their damages by attempting to […]

Go woke, go broke

by Catherine Swift

From private companies to public pension funds, countless entities have adopted a woke, ideologically-driven agenda in recent years– with some starting to pay the price. Photo credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan   The slogan “Go Woke, Go Broke” has achieved popularity recently as it seems that so many of the companies which have opted to follow […]

Demand rising for Canadian oil: analysts

by Deborah Jaremko

‘Heavy is the crude that wears the crown’. Photo credit: Suncor Energy   Demand for oil from Canada is rising as world oil consumption hits new records.   Heavy, sour oil grades like those Canada primarily exports are experiencing what one analyst calls a “price renaissance,” outperforming the U.S. light, sweet oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI).   […]

The ‘fair share’ debate

by Catherine Swift

We consistently hear about how the so-called rich don’t pay enough tax. But is that really true in Canada? And in any instance, does punishing the most productive people in a society really help the overall economy? Photo credit: Getty Images/Gerardo Mora   We’ve been hearing a lot about the mythical “fair share” lately, notably […]

Productivity problems worsen

by Catherine Swift

In the mid-80s, Canada was still quite competitive with most developed countries in terms of productivity, but it has been all downhill since then – with productivity declining significantly after 2015. Photo credit: Flickr/Arild   Canada has had challenges keeping up with other countries in terms of its productivity performance for decades, but recent indicators […]

Canada’s oil and gas sector barrels ahead with record annual exports

by James Snell

‘Every Canadian should be aware that our largest industry continues to thrive’. Photo credit: Cenovus Energy   Canadian oil and gas exports rose significantly in 2022 and show little sign of abating despite a call by Canada’s minister of environment and climate change to ‘phase-out unabated fossil fuels.’  Total exports in Canada rose 22.5 per […]

Taxpayers get shafted with massive auto handouts

by Jay Goldberg

Now that Stellantis and Volkswagen have negotiated a collective $31-billion handout from the feds and Ontario, no doubt other automakers will follow. Photo credit: Bloomberg/Emily Elconin   Thirty-one billion dollars. That’s how much of your money Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford are handing over to two of the world’s largest and most […]

Is a thumbs up emoji legally binding?

by Sheryl Johnson

A recent case out of Saskatchewan sheds first light on the question. Photo credit: CNN   A single emoji can have a variety of meanings, but we nonetheless use them to communicate – more often in our personal lives than our business lives. People have been using emojis and previously emoticons for more than 40 […]

Small business recovery in peril

by Catherine Swift

All indicators point to more tough times ahead for the backbone of Canada’s economy. Photo credit: Pexels/Tim Douglas   Some recent data from various sources indicate that Canada’s small business community has yet to recover from the impact of the pandemic. As this sector represents about half of the economy, this is not a trivial […]

Cash is still king

by Catherine Swift

Though electronic transactions rule the modern marketplace, a recent survey from the Bank of Canada reveals four-in-five Canadians want to retain hard currency as a means of payment. Photo credit: Shutterstock/Stefan Malloch   In our modern technological world of debit cards, electronic financial transactions, and other means of moving money around the globe in split […]

Another sneaky waste of our tax dollars

by Catherine Swift

Granted charitable status and funnelled untold sums from government coffers, not-for-profit organizations promoting social and political causes, particularly the so-called ‘climate crisis’, continue to balloon in size, scope, and number across the country. Photo credit: Pexels/Cottonbro Studio   For some time now, there has been considerable growth in the number of not-for-profit organizations sucking up […]

Small business challenges continue

by Catherine Swift

Recent report indicates small businesses are borrowing more and more taxpayer-backed loans from the government. Photo credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio   Despite some economic indicators that Canada’s economy is not doing too badly considering a general global slowdown, the state of small business does not seem to be very positive. A recent report from the federal […]

At the end of June, it will be a criminal offence for employers to agree with one another to: (a) fix, maintain, decrease, or control wages or other terms of employment; and (b) enter agreements to not solicit or hire each other’s employees. Photo credit: Pexels/Mart Production   On June 23, 2022 significant amendments were […]

Electrification or bust!

by Catherine Swift

Though the business of electrification appears to be booming across Canada, average taxpayers won’t get to share in the economic benefits – in fact, they’re the ones footing the bill. Pictured is Ontario’s Minister of Energy Todd Smith speaking at Electricity Canada’s recent Regulatory Forum. Photo credit: Twitter/Todd Smith   Recent days have seen announcements […]

Pair of Beamsville wineries picked up by nation leading distributor

by The Niagara Independent

Arterra Wines Canada adds Angels Gate Winery and Kew Vineyards to portfolio that already includes top brands from Niagara Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin. Photo credit: Facebook/Angels Gate Winery   The country’s leading wine distributor and marketer has added two more Niagara brands to its growing portfolio. On Friday, May 5, Arterra Wines Canada announced its acquisition […]

To condone or not to condone? – that is the question

by Sheryl Johnson

In a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, it was held that an employer cannot infer condonation or consent to a layoff from an employee’s mere silence during a nine-month period of inactive employment. Photo credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio   If an employee does not immediately object to being laid off, does that mean that the […]

Thumbs down on ESG

by Catherine Swift

A new study from the Fraser Institute outlines some of the issues with the environment, social and governance (ESG) framework many businesses have adopted (or were forced to adopt) in recent years, including challenges related to standardization and reporting. Photo credit: Forbes/Getty Images   Just as the whole ESG (environment, social and governance) regime is […]

When a plaintiff is done wrong

by Sheryl Johnson

The recent appeal decision in Northern Air Charter (PR) Inc. v. Dunbar, 2023 out of Alberta is instructive. Photo credit: Northern Air    While not an Ontario case, the decision in Northern Air Charter (PR) Inc. v. Dunbar, 2023 ABKB 171, does carry some weight as it is an appeal decision. This case provides some […]

A summer of labour union discontent

by Catherine Swift

The widespread labour unrest is taking different forms around the world, with unions in France, the UK, US, and Canada all flexing their collective muscles at the same time. At home, the current federal government strike is the largest single public sector strike in around two decades. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick   In […]

What does a promotion really change?

by Sheryl Johnson

Over time, contracts entered into at the start of employment may not be worth the paper they are written on – whether due to changes in the law or fundamental expansions of an employee’s duties and responsibilities that trigger established legal doctrines. Photo credit: Pexels/Kampus Production   In response to the question posed by the […]

Photo credit: Bloomberg/Eddie Seal via Getty Images   Spending on oil and gas exploration and production needs to rise dramatically to avoid global supply shortages, says a new report published by commodity and energy market analysts.  Annual investment needs to rise 28 per cent to reach $640 billion by 2030, according to the report by the International […]

The balancing act of Generation Z

by Catherine Swift

Studies and surveys indicate Generation Z values work-life balance more than any other generation to date. Its members, the oldest of whom are now in their mid-20s, are resistant to working long days, do not want to respond to emails on weekends and evenings, and value mental health and time off more than the daily […]

What’s remote got to do with it? – part two

by Sheryl Johnson

To read part one, click here. Photo credit: Pexels/Anna Shvets   On March 20, 2023, Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023 (“Bill 79”) was tabled.   Bill 79, if passed, would provide further protections for remote employees under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and make changes to other employment related legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). […]

New technology could help reduce oil sands emissions in the future. Pictured is a conceptual rendering of the BWRX-300 SMR plant by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. The plant will be located at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station site near Oshawa. Photo credit: GE Hitachi   North America’s first commercial small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) is […]

What’s remote got to do with it?

by Sheryl Johnson

To date it has been unclear for employers as to how to fit remote workers into the mass termination regime in light of the location-based definition of “establishment” under the ESA. This is because the term “establishment” under the ESA is defined as “a location at which the employer carries on business”. Photo credit: Pexels/Andrea […]

Plastic – it’s fantastic!

by Catherine Swift

Despite certain government actors and activist groups trying to paint the material with a broad brush of all-bad-all-the-time, the benefits of plastic abound. Photo credit: AMAC Technologies   The federal government’s foolish and misinformation-driven war on plastics continues. After implementing a ban on the manufacture and importation of a handful of plastic products such as […]

Too many eggs in the EV basket?

by Catherine Swift

On Monday, the provincial and federal governments announced that Volkswagen picked southwestern Ontario to build its first electric vehicle battery plant in North America. The announcement was met with much fanfare. But is all this money being thrown at EVs a good use of our tax dollars and the focus from governments, or just the […]

Tax revolt time

by Catherine Swift

Canadians get the worst of both worlds – high taxes and poor public services. Perhaps it’s time for a change. Photo credit: Getty Images via Bloomberg   Get out the torches and pitchforks Canadians. A number of recent polls and studies have found that a strong majority of Canadians believe they are overtaxed and not […]

The sustainable jobs nothingburger

by Catherine Swift

For now, the only part of the Liberals’ Sustainable Jobs Plan that could actually be called a plan is the hiring of more government workers. Pictured is Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick   After three years of jabbering on about the so-called “Just Transition”, the federal Liberals recently came […]

The enduring appeal of socialism

by Catherine Swift

A recent multi-national study commissioned by the Fraser Institute revealed, among other findings, that many people – particularly young people – continue to view socialism as the ideal economic system.    Over the decades, different political directions and trends come and go, depending on the conditions at the time and the appeal of various politicians. […]

Uncertainty regarding employer liability for terminations during pandemic continues

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Getty Images/Runstudio    You may recall from my previous articles, the Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) in Dawe v The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, 2019 ONCA 512 reaffirmed the leading decision on the issue of notice of Lowndes v Summit Ford Sales Ltd. (2006), 206 O.A.C. 55 (Ont. C.A.) that the determination […]

Tory’s reckless record

by Jay Goldberg

Former mayor of Toronto John Tory’s time in office was marked by a level of financial imprudence that rivals that of even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo credit: CBC/Evan Mitsui   It’s time to dispel a yearslong myth: former mayor John Tory was no friend to Toronto taxpayers. He shouldn’t let the door hit him […]

Hey CEOs, stop ‘just transitioning’ yourselves out of business

by Catherine Swift

The corporate heads who don’t speak up against bad government policies might think they are being constructive by going with the flow, but they don’t do anyone any favours in the long run, including themselves.    The first time I saw a bunch of CEOs from large energy companies lined up behind politicians who were […]

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

by David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles. Pictured is Pearl Island in Doha, Qatar. Photo credit: DEME Group   That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.   Investment […]

Shameless public sector unions up the ante

by Catherine Swift

Already better compensated and more secure in their respective positions than their private sector counterparts, public sector employees – at least, the unions that represent them – are coming back to the taxpayer trough for yet more feed. Photo credit: PSAC   Recent weeks have seen a veritable frenzy of public sector unions demanding outrageous […]

ChatGPT: The business tool of the future

by Mark Hardwick

The AI-powered technology is an ideal tool for businesses looking to create chatbots that can understand and respond to customer inquiries naturally and intuitively. Photo credit: Freepik   Business and chatbots have become increasingly intertwined in recent years, with more and more companies turning to chatbots to improve customer service and automate repetitive tasks. One […]

Fairness needed for Canadian manufacturers

by Catherine Swift

The current federal government in particular does not seem overly concerned about defending Canadian businesses, and is too lenient when enforcing the law against foreign companies. Photo credit: Fiat Chrysler Automotives   Amid the massive increases in taxation and regulatory red tape that has been introduced in recent years by the Trudeau government in the […]

Human trafficking in the employment context

by Sheryl Johnson

A successful claim for the statutory tort of human trafficking in the context of labour under the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act can be made out by employees in vulnerable positions who experience employers’ abuse.     Farm operations in Niagara rely heavily on temporary foreign workers (“TFWs”).  As such, the recent case of […]

Year in review: top five Canadian privacy law developments

by Sheryl Johnson

 In an increasingly data-driven world, it’s more important than ever that Canadian employers stay up-to-date on any and all developments on the privacy law front. Photo credit: Pexels/Ingo Joseph   This past year saw many developments in the area of privacy law that underscored the need of organizations to keep up with a data-driven world. […]

A taxing year ahead

by Catherine Swift

Courtesy of your federal Liberal government. Photo credit: Reuters/Blare Gable   As if all the talk about a looming recession wasn’t enough, we also know that Canadians will be facing a number of tax increases in 2023, courtesy of the federal Liberal government. For starters, both Employment Insurance premiums and Canada Pension Plan premiums will […]

Canada’s trillion-dollar rock

by James Snell

Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) contains some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves. Two geological formations in the WCSB are driving oil and gas development in Canada today: the McMurray and the Montney. Pictured is the Ante Creek development, located on the Montney. Photo credit: ARC Resources   The Western Canada Sedimentary Basin […]

Niagara bakery nominated for ‘Ontario Made’ award

by The Niagara Independent

Paz Bakery makes Brazilian-inspired cheese buns with local ingredients. Pictured is co-founder Paloma Lara. Photo credit: Facebook/Paz Bakery    If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that global supply chains are fragile creatures, and the more we make at home the better.  Homegrown products don’t only provide security in uncertain times, they […]

What Ontario employers need to know about ‘mitigation’

by Sheryl Johnson

Lake v. La Presse (2018) and its recent appeal help shed light on the subject. Photo credit: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki   When we speak of wrongful dismissal damages, assuming there are no contractual provisions limiting such damages or their calculation, we speak of an employee’s “reasonable notice entitlements” under the common law. Such “entitlements” amount to […]

Ontario leaning on natural gas to keep electricity reliable and affordable

by James Snell

  There is no ‘like-for-like’ replacement. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is recommending the province step-up natural gas use to help avoid an energy shortage.  Ontario will require an additional 4,000 MW of electricity between 2025 and 2027 – the equivalent of adding a city the size of Toronto […]

Recession for who? Not government employees

by Franco Terrazzano

Bureaucrats didn’t financially suffer during the pandemic. They benefited. Now they want more. And if taxpayers don’t pony up, bureaucrats won’t show up for work.     Different people experience things differently. The pandemic exposed a specific divide. Private-sector workers missed paycheques. Small business owners worried their savings wouldn’t keep the lights on. Meanwhile, federal bureaucrats […]

To grieve or not to grieve?

by Sheryl Johnson

In choosing arbitration over an OHRT hearing, an employer must consider speed and expense. Photo credit: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki   The standard process in Ontario for well over a decade is for the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) to defer human rights applications pending the completion of a labour arbitration for unionized employees. If the substance […]

More imbalanced labour laws are bad news for Canada

by Catherine Swift

The whole notion of collective bargaining is predicated on there being a reasonable balance between the union and the employer. Prohibiting the employer from bringing in other workers to carry on operating severely upsets this balance, leaving far too much power in union hands. Photo credit: CityNews   The federal Liberals just announced they are […]

Holiday parties: making your lists and checking them twice

by Sheryl Johnson

Are you an employer looking to throw a company party this holiday season? Read on. Photo credit: Pexels/Kampus Production   With the opening up of COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings, many workplaces are looking forward to celebrating together the upcoming holiday season and the ability to socially gather like it was 1999. Putting aside caution […]

CMHC’s own study finds home equity tax 95 per cent unpopular

by James Wood

The federal government, via the CMHC, has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to study the idea of a home equity tax. Photo credit: Bloomberg/SeongJoon Cho   Despite spending nearly half a million dollars studying and promoting a home equity tax, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s own study found 95 per cent […]

Yes, payroll taxes are taxes. No, Trudeau shouldn’t be raising them

by Franco Terrazzano

 If something looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Likewise, if it takes money from you like a tax, funds government spending like a tax, and even the government admits it’s a tax, then it’s a tax. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images   Political pundits are […]

Employers beware: how a termination is conducted just as important as why

by Sheryl Johnson

Breaching the ESA’s post-termination payment schedule can now lead to moral and punitive damage awards in wrongful dismissal cases, as the recent Pohl v. Hudson’s Bay Company case described below demonstrates.     There are specific rules for the payment of termination and/or severance pay under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 and its regulations (collectively […]

Trudeau’s luxury tax will harm blue-collar workers

by Franco Terrazzano

With its preoccupation with going after the rich, Ottawa is forgetting about the Canadian workers who will get caught in the crossfire.   Hundreds of people who pull wrenches for a living have a unique point of view on Ottawa’s new luxury tax. Most of us might not be too bothered by a tax on […]

Oil crisis: Why the world needs more of ‘The Great Canadian Barrel’

by Deborah Jaremko

Reduced oil production from Canada is bad for the world, veteran Wall Street energy analyst says. Photo credit: Bloomberg   The outlook for production growth from Canada’s oil sands is down again, limiting supply of what one analyst calls “the Great Canadian Barrel” to a world growing increasingly short on oil to meet its needs. “Canada is […]

The kids aren’t alright

by Catherine Swift

A recent study showed that Canada’s under-30 crowd is generally pessimistic about the future, especially in regard to employment, income, and the possibility of home ownership. Photo credit: Pexels/Liza Summer   Some very interesting research was published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) recently regarding the state of mind of young Canadians and their expectations regarding […]

Singling out oil and gas doesn’t make sense. Here’s why. Photo credit: Cenovus Energy   Canada’s strategy to single out greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry could make it harder to meet overall reduction targets, according to two leading energy analysts.   Neither of Ottawa’s two proposed policies to cap and reduce oil […]

Volunteer or employee? Employers beware of volunteer misclassifications

by Sheryl Johnson

The Ontario Superior Court recently ordered Toronto-based student travel firm S-Trip to pay a group of former staff $450,000 after misclassifying the workers as ‘volunteers’, when in reality they should have been categorized and compensated as ‘employees’. Photo credit: Twitter/S-Trip   Are you part of an organization that relies on volunteers? Many not-for-profit corporations such […]

The state of the unions

by Catherine Swift

At right around 31 per cent, Canada has one of the world’s highest unionization rates. However, not all Canadian sectors are created equal, with a stark contrast in rates between the private versus public sectors. Photo credit: Toronto Star/Bernard Weil   In honour of Labour Day, it’s worth having a look at what Canadian labour […]

Canada is letting down its allies and losing money by not encouraging LNG investment.   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t optimistic about LNG exports to Europe because he says there’s no business case.   Even though the Chancellor of Germany just came to Canada asking for LNG to help fill the five new import terminals it is building. And […]

‘Quiet quitting’ – it’s a thing

by Catherine Swift

Though hardly a new concept, the pandemic has revitalized and made more acceptable the notion of putting in the bare minimum while on the clock.     There has been quite a bit of discussion in the media and workplaces of late about a supposedly new trend that is being called “quiet quitting”. This refers to […]

Small business pandemic carnage

by Catherine Swift

The true extent of the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic and its associated government policies on Canada’s mom-and-pop shops will take years to be fully realized and revealed. However, for preliminary illustration, a recent survey found that 17 per cent of small businesses across the country were preparing to close permanently because of inordinately […]

Employers must not solely rely on the self-interested decision making of their insurance companies when making very important employment decisions. One such decision is when the employment contract is “frustrated”.    After a five-week trial in the Ontario Superior Court case of Baker v. Blue Cross, on Jun. 24, 2022 a Toronto jury granted the […]

Inflation slows slightly, as gas prices fall

by Nicholas Tibollo

Rise in the CPI decelerated to 7.6 per cent in July. Gas prices fell considerably across the country on a month-over-month basis, dipping most precipitously in Ontario where the Ford government temporarily lowered the provincial gas tax. Though Bank of Canada officials acknowledged inflation likely peaked in June, the central bank said it intends to […]

Courts in Ontario and Nova Scotia have thus far tended to decline to deduct, while courts in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have tended to deduct. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jason Franson   In my assessment, the official expiration of deemed IDEL in Ontario triggers a domino effect in relation to several legal issues. One is […]

Will the detonator be set?

by Sheryl Johnson

 If and when the deemed IDEL ends it will be a game changer for employers, employees, and the courts in Ontario, as the detonator will be set for both parties to assess the viability of their ongoing employment relationship. Photo credit: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki   As you may recall from my earlier articles, there is paid […]

Five reasons President Biden should ask Canada, not Saudi Arabia, for more oil

by Deborah Jaremko

 The U.S. and Canada should work together to build new oil pipelines to strengthen North American energy security. Photo credit: Reuters via BBC   There’s an important message for U.S. President Joe Biden as he heads to Saudi Arabia this week to ask for OPEC to increase oil production: he should be asking Canada instead.   […]

A sign of the times?

by Sheryl Johnson

Two recent divergent decisions regarding Alectra Utilities’ and FCA Canada’s ability to uphold mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace underscore the need for organizations in Ontario to re-examine and, if necessary, update their respective policies. Photo credit: Twitter/Alectra Utilities    Labour arbitrators remain the frontline decision-makers regarding workplaces and how they balance the needs of […]

Architects of TMX cost explosion and delays remain unaccountable

by David Yager

How could twinning an existing pipeline that has been operating safely for 69 years be this late and this expensive? Photo credit: Trans Mountain    On June 22, Ottawa’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) reported that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) is “no longer a profitable undertaking.”  The updated cost is $21.4 billion, the latest […]

As a recent Ontario case involving a terminated dental hygienist demonstrates, employers that wish to put forth fraud allegations must provide incontrovertible evidence of falsification or be prepared to face the consequences of the court. Photo credit: Pexels/Anna Shvets   Gracias v. Dr. David Walt Dentistry, 2022 ONSC 2967 is a recent wrongful dismissal case […]

Brace yourself for more inflation

by Catherine Swift

As a new round of union negotiations gets underway, expect any resultant public sector pay raises to increase everyday costs for the 80 per cent of Canadians who do not work for the government. Pictured: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members rally for “fair wages” in Ottawa, June 8, 2022. Photo credit: Facebook/PSAC   […]

Employees’ duty to mitigate during a pandemic: law unchanged

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Getty Images/Ryan Fletcher    The case of Okano v. Cathay Pacific Airways (2022 BCSC 881) confirms that the negative impact of COVID-19 on certain industries does not alter the courts’ expectations on what is reasonable (the “how” of) when employees mitigate their damages – in this case, the airline industry. In Okano the […]

High and hidden taxes driving up the pump price

by Franco Terrazzano

Photo credit: Pexels/Engin Akyurt   As far as Canadian politicians are concerned, the soaring cost of living is like winter slush, summer mosquitos and other unfortunate forces of nature. They would love to help, but what can they do? Here’s an idea: our politicians just need to follow the lead of other countries and cut […]

Canada ousts OPEC as lead oil importer to U.S. Gulf Coast

by Deborah Jaremko

New pipeline infrastructure is helping connect supply with demand, and there is significant room to grow. Pictured is Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s Galveston Bay oil refinery in Texas City, Texas. Photo credit: Marathon Petroleum Corporation    The tables have turned in the largest refining market in the U.S., with oil imports from OPEC countries like Saudi […]

To be or not to be a case of constructive dismissal: that remains the question

by Sheryl Johnson

A recent Court of Appeal case involving a laid off Tim Hortons assistant manager failed to shed new light on whether pandemic-related layoffs or IDEL constitute constructive dismissal at common law.    In Ontario employers and their counsel have been waiting for a decision from the Courts to provide guidance and some certainty on whether […]

The world’s remarkable reversal on the future of oil

by David Yager

The message is now to resume normal activities even though ‘civil society’ has spent years trying to crush the industry. Photo credit: YouTube/CBC News   The love/hate relationship between oil companies and the world’s billions of customers is unique in the world of commerce.   Until recently, the plan was to replace oil and gas with […]

Yes, deficits and debt do matter

by Jay Goldberg

This year, Ontario is set to spend over $13 billion simply servicing the provincial debt. That’s money that comes from Main Street and heads into the pockets of bondholders on Bay Street. If Ontarians didn’t have to pay interest on the $440-billion provincial debt, more money would be free for other priorities. Photo credit: Flickr/Jonathan […]

Establishing a framework for similar scenarios in the future, the Ontario Superior Court recently dismissed a judicial review application challenging the implementation of McMaster University’s mandatory vaccination policy. Photo credit: McMaster University    Recently in Michalski v. McMaster University the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a challenge to the Hamilton university’s mandatory vaccination policy by […]

Canada’s oil and gas workers don’t need a forced ‘just transition’

by Deborah Jaremko

Only threat to the industry is policy that seeks to shut it down while still needed. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Aaron Lynett   The idea of the need for a “just transition” for Canadian oil and gas workers is based on the false narrative that global demand is now decreasing and therefore Canada’s industry will […]

Turning the other cheek

by Sheryl Johnson

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal workplace misconduct case involving a tap/slap on the buttocks of a female employee by a male manager yields interesting result, sets new precedent.    Render v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Limited (2022 ONCA 310) is a recent Ontario Court of Appeal (“OCA”) that has set a new and surprising precedent. […]

Province budgets for twin bridge over canal, GO service expansion in Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to the local tourism sector’s pandemic recovery. Photo credit: Metrolinx   The Ontario government released its 2022 budget Thursday afternoon.  A major part of the PCs’ record-breaking spending plan is transportation infrastructure and public transit, with $86.7 billion set aside over the next 10 years for highway rehabilitation, bridge […]

Important legislative updates for employers

by Sheryl Johnson

 The recent passing of the Working for Workers Act, 2022 and Pandemic and Emergency Preparedness Act, 2022 means certain Ontario employers will have to add and implement various changes in the coming months. Photo credit: Pexels/Cottonbro   Working for Workers Act, 2022 First and further to my previous article last month, on April 7, 2022 […]

CMHC giving $200,000 more to home equity tax advocates

by James Wood

The crown corporation previously gave Generation Squeeze $250,000 to write a report that recommended targeting the “housing wealth windfalls gained by many home owners while they sleep and watch TV.”   The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is pumping another $200,000 of taxpayers’ money into an organization calling for a home equity tax, according to […]

Local chambers applaud launch of province’s new centralized business website

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Earlier this week, the provincial government launched, a one-stop online resource shop for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs.   Part of the government’s broader Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, the new website is designed to reduce administrative burdens by providing the most pertinent information for starting and growing a business […]

Start of summer to bring small bit of relief at the pump

by Nicholas Tibollo

On July 1, the provincial gas tax will be lowered by 5.7 cents per litre. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent    With supply chain issues, cuts to production, foreign wars, and federal carbon taxes all helping hike the price of gas, the Ford government is doing its part to make trips to the pump a […]

On Mar. 22, 2022, an Ontario arbitrator upheld the Toronto District School Board’s mandatory vaccination policy, maintaining it did not infringe section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn   The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and CUPE, Local 4400 case is the first arbitration award in Ontario […]

Canadian oil a ‘godsend’ for U.S. energy security: chamber of commerce leader

by Deborah Jaremko

 Reliable supply supports jobs and helps lower consumer energy costs. Photo credit: Canada Action   A senior leader with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would rather see the U.S. focus on oil imports from Canada than other potential partners as the global energy security crisis from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grows.   “From a pure, selfish U.S.-centric viewpoint, […]

South Niagara Chambers of Commerce launches new ‘Let’s Talk’ initiative

by Nicholas Tibollo

It’ll provide chamber members with access to accurate information on topics of local importance and allow them to engage in meaningful dialogue. Photo credit: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto    After months of pandemic-induced disconnection, the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce (SNCC) is trying to kickstart dialogue between members with a newly launched initiative called ‘Let’s Talk’.  The […]

One change involves disclosure requirements around electronic monitoring of employees. Photo credit: Pexels/Thirdman As I have previously noted, the pandemic has had a significant impact on how and where we work.   Prior to the pandemic remote work was the exception, not the rule.   Following employers and employees needing to pivot to remote work during the […]

Inflation hits 31-year high, as gas and grocery prices continue rapid ascent

by Nicholas Tibollo

February marked the second month in a row in which headline inflation topped 5 per cent. Gas was up 32.3 per cent year over year, while groceries were up 7.4 per cent. Photo credit: Pexels/Artem Beliaikin   On Wednesday, Statistics Canada confirmed what many struggling Canadians already knew: everyday life is getting more and more […]

Amongst several other changes, Bill 88 would guarantee “gig workers” – such as Uber drivers and DoorDash delivery people – a minimum wage, tip protection, and dispute resolution rights. Photo credit: Pexels/Norma Mortensen On the heels of the passage of the Working for Workers Act, 2021, Ontario introduced Bill 88, Working for Workers Act, 2022 on February 28, 2022, […]

Canadians experience ‘historic year’ of financial losses due to fraud

by Nicholas Tibollo

Based on reports to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, $379 million was lost to scams and fraud in 2021. Photo credit: Poike/iStock   For nearly two decades now, relevant industry partners, government agencies, and law enforcement in Canada have observed March as ‘Fraud Prevention Month’. This year’s campaign to help individuals and businesses recognize and avoid fraud in all […]

Photo credit: Radio-Canada/Ivanoh Demers   Though the Ontario government ended patron volume restrictions for all remaining indoor public settings on Monday, some establishments will continue to operate at reduced capacity for the foreseeable future.  For many businesses, however, the choice to continue limiting operations is not necessarily out of an abundance of caution. Rather, it’s […]

Ford’s removal of licence fees earns praise from taxpayer advocacy group

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Global News   On Tuesday, the provincial government announced that effective Mar. 13, 2022, Ontario would be eliminating licence plate renewal fees and the requirement to have a licence plate sticker for passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, motorcycles, and mopeds.  Premier Doug Ford said elimination of the fees “is a concrete way we can […]

What employers can expect when most of Ontario’s restrictions are lifted next week

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Government of Ontario What has changed? On Valentine’s Day 2022 many retailers, restauranteurs, and employers in the hospitality and tourism sectors hearts fluttered when the government of Ontario shared the decision to lift the following two public health measures if public health and health system indicators continue to improve effective March 1, 2022: […]

The changing business of the Olympics

by Karin Schnarr

Declining viewership – and tricky politics – means less value for sponsors. Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins   So full disclosure: I haven’t actually watched a single minute of coverage of the current 2022 Olympic winter games that are currently taking place right now in Beijing, China – half a world away for most of […]

Industry leaders join forces to help make nuclear fusion a reality in Ontario

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: General Fusion/Bruce Power   Last week, Bruce Power, General Fusion, and the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) announced that the trio have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on accelerating the delivery of fusion power in Canada.  Together, the organizations will evaluate potential deployment of a fusion power plant in Ontario, […]

When it comes to non-competes, in with the new does not mean out with the old

by Sheryl Johnson

Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton. Minister McNaughton introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021 at the end of last year. The act, amongst other legislative changes, banned the use of non-compete agreements. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn   With the passing of Ontario’s Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“WWA”) on Dec. […]

One year later, Keystone XL cancellation represents a massive missed opportunity

by Deborah Jaremko

The U.S. needs reliable energy partners. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Alex Panetta   It’s been one year since President Joe Biden cancelled approval for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and the United States’ thirst for oil is as strong as ever and rising.  U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Russia have increased, and gasoline prices are higher than they have been […]

Pandemic pay hikes show a tale of two Ontarios

by Jay Goldberg

Bureaucrats are getting raises, while average Ontarians are undergoing endless pay cuts and closures. Photo credit: Associated Press/Wilfredo Lee   Ontario has been experiencing a tale of two pandemics. One is a fairy tale for bureaucrats and the other is a grim story for the rest of us. Bureaucrats working for the province and its […]

Practically speaking: COVID-19 mandatory vaccination policies

by Sheryl Johnson

Port of Hamilton, where vegetable oil refiner Bunge manufactures and ships its product. An arbitrator recently upheld the company’s workplace vaccination policy that does not allow alternatives to inoculation, such as frequent testing. Photo credit: HOPA Ports   As we get reset to re-open under the Ontario government’s three-phased reopening plan commencing Jan. 31, 2022, […]

 Premier Doug Ford and Minister Steve Clark met with municipal leaders from across Ontario on Wednesday to address the housing crisis and discuss ways in which the province can increase supply.     Housing supply in Canada is at an all-time low. Per the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), prospective buyers across the country are facing […]

Caution: employers need to avoid COVID-19 fatigue too

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Calm for Business   Given that we are in the fourth wave of the pandemic, greater expectations will be placed on employers to get their responses to the pandemic right.   Meaning, employers are expected to be more than well familiar with and used to the occupational health and safety, and as applicable, public […]

At Toyota, be prepared to pay to start your car

by Karin Schnarr

Photo credit: Bloomberg/George Frey   There has been a lot of attention in the press about the current and future increases to consumer prices across the globe. A recent survey by Ipsos of 20,000 people in 30 countries found that two-thirds of respondents were feeling the pressure of rising inflation and almost half also noted […]

Ontario readies for first new nuclear build in nearly three decades

by Nicholas Tibollo

Artist rendering of the planned Darlington small modular nuclear reactor. Construction on the project could begin later this year and be completed by as early as 2028. Photo credit: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy   If you’re an Ontario resident, there is a two in three chance that the electricity used to charge the phone or […]

One of the measures includes the closure of schools. Photo credit: CTV News Toronto   So far in 2022 there are a number of COVID-19 response measures employers, businesses, and organizations alike in Ontario need to be aware of as we move forward.   Current Phase of Our Roadmap to Reopening Effective Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 […]

Business community rips into Ford government for latest round of restrictions

by Nicholas Tibollo

Ontario residents are no longer permitted to dine inside restaurants. Photo credit: Getty Images/CourtneyK   On Monday, the provincial government announced a return to a modified ‘Step Two’ of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopening.  The shift includes limiting retail capacity to 50 per cent, closing gyms, banning indoor dining at restaurants, and shutting down a variety […]

Report by taxpayers’ advocacy group reviews tax changes for 2022

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov   The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) released its annual New Year’s Tax Changes report on Monday. The report highlights the major tax changes set to come into force in 2022. “If you’re making more than $40,000, you’ll see your federal income tax bill go up thanks to rising payroll taxes,” said Franco Terrazzano, […]

Major discussions and developments in Ontario employment law in 2021: year in review

by Sheryl Johnson

The institution of mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace was perhaps the most talked about development in Ontario employment law this year. Photo credit: Canadian Lawyer Magazine   The first three areas of employment law examined below have been much discussed throughout 2021; the last two areas involve new developments – the first on a […]

The mythical construction industry ‘open period’

by Sheryl Johnson

Just longer than the cycle for a lunar eclipse, the construction industry’s “open period” occurs under the Ontario Labour Relations Act (the “Act”) every three years for two months. Given that the majority of collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) in the construction industry expire on April 30, 2022, the upcoming “open period” will be from March […]

Don’t be deceived about the extreme elements of Canada’s ‘Just Transition’

by Lennie Kaplan and Ven Venkatachalam

Oil and gas supports jobs and economic growth across many industries and in all provinces and territories. Photo credit: Imperial Oil   There has been lots of talk about Canada’s so-called “Just Transition,” but so far little comprehensive analysis of its impact on the national economy and workforce. One of the most controversial elements of […]

Continued government action needed to support business recovery

by Ian McLean

Re-opening, whether partial or full, does mean automatic recovery for many business sectors. According to president and CEO of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, government support remains a necessity for certain industries, even as the pandemic passes through what are hopefully its final stages. Photo credit: Pexels/Maria Lindsey   All governments across Canada […]

Working for Workers Act – it’s official

by Sheryl Johnson

Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton with the passed Act. Photo credit: Facebook/Monte McNaughton   On Nov. 30, 2021, the Ontario government passed the Working for Workers Act (WWA) with Royal Assent expected to follow within the coming weeks.   The WWA impacts a number of employment related areas and legislation, including but not […]

What the courts have decided to date regarding workplace vaccination policies

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Pexels/Ekaterina Bolovtsova   To date we don’t have a court decision on the merits of an employer’s vaccination policy nor a court or arbitration decision addressing an employee’s termination for non-compliance under such a policy.  What we have are four court injunction decisions stemming from unionized employees attempting to prevent application of the […]

Escalation of anti-oil and gas activist tactics has frightening implications

by Shawn Logan and Deborah Jaremko

David Suzuki warns pipelines will be ‘blown up’ as opponents become more extreme. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick   Anyone who’s been paying attention to the increasingly fraught battles over oil and gas projects has seen a decided shift in the strategies employed by industry opponents. While peaceful protest by earnest citizens remains the […]

Why oil and gas matters to Ontario

by Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan

Analyzing ‘on the ground’ realities for local businesses and employment.    The headline screamed: “The end of oil age” in the Economist in 2003. Fast forward 18 years and that still doesn’t make sense in many ways. The demand for oil is increasing across the globe. Even U.S. President Joe Biden is now asking OPEC to produce more oil. […]

Europe changes course as green ambitions collide with energy reality

by David Yager

European energy crisis prompts course change about revisiting the role of natural gas in green energy future. Pictured is president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speaking at COP26, Nov. 1, 2021. Photo credit: European Commission   No part of the world has done more to tackle the climate change challenge and execute […]

Lessons from 10 years of the oil and gas divestment movement

by Gina Pappano

Canadians should reject calls to abandon oil and gas and support innovation for cleantech solutions. Pictured is the University of Toronto. U of T recently announced it will divest from direct investments in fossil fuel companies within the next 12 months. Photo credit: University of Toronto News/Nick Iwanyshyn    The global divestment movement initiated by the […]

Mandatory disclosure and voluntary vaccination policies upheld at arbitration

by Sheryl Johnson

Beyond it being Remembrance Day, November 11, 2021 is memorable for the fact that Arbitrator John Stout was the first Ontario arbitrator to allow a grievance challenging an employer’s mandatory vaccination and disclosure policy (“MVD Policy”). This case involved the Power Workers’ Union (the “PWU”) and the Electrical Safety Authority (the “Employer”). Of import, in […]

Former chairman of Walt Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International division Kevin Mayer delivers address at the D23 Expo in August 2019. Disney opened pre-subscriptions to its new streaming service at the expo. Disney+ officially launched on Nov. 12, 2019, two years ago last Friday. Photo credit: Disney    Disney is a company that can never be […]

A matter of fact: more Canadian oil could be helping the U.S. right now

by Deborah Jaremko

U.S. President Joe Biden speaking at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021. The U.S. should say yes to more oil from Canada and no to more oil from Russia and OPEC. Photo Credit: Associated Press   President Joe Biden says it is Russia and OPEC’s fault that consumers across the U.S. are […]

Business community asks province to reconsider timeline of minimum wage increase

by The Niagara Independent

President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Rocco Rossi. Rossi was one of several officials representing the province’s business community to recently ask the Ford government to reconsider its expedited introduction of a $15 per hour minimum wage. Photo credit: Flickr   While some have complained that Ontario’s new $15 per hour minimum […]

Can you legislate work-life balance?

by Sheryl Johnson

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development recently introduced legislation that if passed would, among other things, force employers with over 25 employees to establish “right to disconnect” policies, such as no emails before or after work hours. But are the changes really necessary? Photo credit: Pexels/William Fortunato   The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted […]

Ten years post-Steve Jobs: is Apple still the king of innovation?

by Karin Schnarr

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving one of his iconic keynote addresses in 2005. Three weeks ago, Oct. 5, 2021, marked exactly 10 years since the legendary innovator’s passing. Photo credit: Getty Images/David Paul Morris   Consumers and developers alike have become accustomed to Apple’s famous keynote events with each one targeting a different element of […]

Why choking off oil and gas supply does the world more harm than good

by Deborah Jaremko

Demand to continue growing to 2050, new outlooks show.   Two new global energy outlooks released amid major shortages in Asia and Europe underscore the reality that it will take decades for the world to shift to low carbon energy. Rash policies that cut off traditional supply can have unintended consequences that threaten the ultimate goal, […]

Ontario’s QR codes – be in the ‘know’

by Sheryl Johnson

Ontario’s enhanced vaccination certificates with scannable QR codes have officially launched. While such codes may renew privacy debates, their intended purpose is to provide an easier and more convenient process for businesses to verify patrons’ vaccination status, while protecting their privacy.  Why is it “enhanced”? The QR code is built on the “SMART Health Card […]

Oil and gas good news boosts outlook in Atlantic Canada

by Mario Toneguzzi

Major project to proceed, First Nations announce plans for first-ever equity ownership offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Suncor Energy   Recent developments in Atlantic Canada’s oil and gas sector are giving the region a boost, providing a more positive outlook as the industry moves out of recent challenging times. First, giant Suncor Energy and […]

The world must respect the key role of natural gas in the energy transition

by David Yager

Hard lessons are learned only after the lights go out. Photo credit: FortisBC   The world’s most important but least appreciated energy source is natural gas. While the headlines are about what is good or bad about coal, oil, nuclear power, hydroelectricity and renewables, the second largest global primary energy source is natural gas. BP’s […]

Europe’s oil from tyrannies and autocracies: 3.1 trillion Euros worth since 2005

by Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan

As energy prices rise, Europe remains dependent on imported oil from repressive states. Pictured: Germany’s Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof train station. Photo credit: Pexels/Sascha Hormel   One of the more bizarre developments in Europe in recent years has been the twin policy path whereby fossil fuels are discouraged in favour of wind and solar, but deals […]

A difficult hurdle to clear: workplace vaccination medical exemption in Ontario

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Healium   At this juncture, the temporary pandemic rules under the regulation to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) continue to be in place until January 1, 2022 for unpaid IDEL (Infectious Disease Emergency Leave) through the most recent extension of the “COVID-19 period”, and paid Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Benefit to December […]

Guess where Canada’s $488 billion in foreign oil came from?

by Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan

Quebec leads in oil imports from other countries despite Canada’s vast oil reserves. Pictured is downtown Montreal. Photo credit: Tourisme Montréal   In one of the great ironies of modern Canadian life, a country with plentiful oil reserves has imported $488 billion in foreign oil since 1988. This is so despite the presence of the […]

Canada’s ‘Just Transition’ exercise is a horrible idea for Indigenous communities

by Joseph Quesnel

Responsible development contributes to overall reconciliation and Indigenous self-determination. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Yader Guzman   If the federal government was serious about Indigenous economic reconciliation and self-determination, it would not engage in the “Just Transition” exercise it is contemplating. After all, observers for awhile now have concluded that responsible development contributes to overall reconciliation […]

No mere coincidence

by Sheryl Johnson

Ontario’s Attorney General Doug Downey, the minister responsible for overseeing the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). On the day that the province’s vaccine passport system came into effect, OHRC released a statement in support of the system’s implementation in limited circumstances. Photo credit: Twitter/Douglas Downey   The Commission asserts that employers must accommodate people who […]

A customer presents proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant. Photo credit: New York Times/Victor Blue   What might have been missed in the election fervor is that on September 14, 2021 the Ontario government released the regulations (Reg 645/21) and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, […]

Empty shelves at a retail store: a common sight at the beginning of the pandemic. If proactive steps aren’t taken early, persistent issues all along the supply chain could trigger a similar occurrence this holiday season. Photo credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan   Even though we are only in mid-September and many of us are still […]

Photo credit: Pexels/Anna Shvets   During the pandemic temporary employment standards measures were implemented that temporarily avoided the complex and difficult subject of employee constructive dismissal claims.     The complexity and difficulty arises from the fact that a constructive dismissal is made out based on two steps. First, the employer must unilaterally make a significant change […]

Photo credit: Alamy/The Economist    A new study by researchers with University College London (UCL) perpetuates the false narrative that the world can flip a switch to turn off oil and gas use and reduce emissions without devastating economies across the globe. The report, which specifically targets Canada – saying that Canada must leave more […]

Ontario’s vaccination passport – what every business should know

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Rose Magazine   On September 1, 2021, to confront the health and safety challenges arising from the Delta-driven fourth wave of the COVID-19, the Ontario government created new rules effective September 22 limiting access to certain public indoor business settings assessed to have a higher-risk of transmission because face coverings cannot always be […]

Politicians want to improve affordability? Look in the mirror

by Franco Terrazzano and Jay Goldberg

Photo credit: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov   Political parties are trying their best to convince Canadians they can make life more affordable. But if politicians want us to believe them, they need to look in the mirror. That’s because really making life more affordable means tackling the damage government does through regulation, high taxes, and run-away spending. […]

Photo credit: Pexels/Tim Mossholder   What we all feared has come to pass – COVID-19 case numbers are increasing and Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table confirmed that we are indeed bracing for a fourth wave of the pandemic. In many ways we’re ready for it. Ontario is better equipped to deal with the pandemic than […]

Mandatory vaccination workplace policies score card: what’s the score?

by Sheryl Johnson

Sun Life Financial Inc’s Canadian head office in Waterloo, Ontario. On August 17, Sun Life informed its 12,000 Canadian employees that they need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to their offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Waterloo. Sun Life is one of a plethora of employers across North America that have recently come […]

New rules for the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’ – what employers need to know

by Sheryl Johnson

The provincial government recently released new guidelines around testing and self-isolation for those potentially exposed to COVID-19, with different rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Photo credit: Getty/Forbes  Under the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act Ontario workers, employers, volunteers, non-profits and other organizations who make an “honest effort” to follow public health advice, public health guidance […]

Lush oasis with true farm-to-table cuisine creates memorable experience

by Sherri Haigh

Honsberger Estate Winery’s wood fired pizza. Supplied photo. Greeted by the “SLOW Grapes at Work” sign, I pass lush foliage to a parking lot where behind a gate, baby doll sheep and an alpaca are milling about. This is a working farm as well as home to Honsberger Estate Winery and its picturesque outdoor restaurant. […]

Comparing Ontario COVID-19 lockdowns in reducing electricity demand

by Parker Gallant

Power lines run from Ontario Power Generation in Bath, Ont. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Lars Lagberg  Earlier this year the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) released its 2020 stats and noted Ontario’s electricity demand fell 2.1 per cent (down 2.9 terawatt hours [TWh]) from 2019, or about what 325,000 average households would consume in a year. In […]

The skinny on mandatory testing and vaccination policies in the workplace

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Canadian Lawyer Magazine Under the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers – including protecting workers from hazards posed by infectious diseases like COVID-19.      As part of fulfilling this obligation, Ontario employers must already have in place their […]

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo credit: No. 10 Downing Street/Andrew Parsons The British newspaper The Sun noted in a July 7, 2021 piece that the Boris Johnson government’s “Net Zero” agenda will cost £50,000 per household. That’s British pounds – which at today’s exchange rate is in the order of $86,000 Canadian. Per household! That’s just to get there. […]

Each Canadian owes $57,000 in government debt

by Franco Terrazzano

Photo credit: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov Fifty-seven thousand dollars. That’s the average amount each Canadian will owe in provincial and federal government debt by the end of the year.  It’s not just the rich or big corporations that will be mopping up this budget mess if politicians don’t take some air out of their bloated budgets.  Politicians are already […]

Is a COVID-bump emerging?

by Sheryl Johnson

Photo credit: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki  In a previous article I wrote that so far there was no traction for the argument that an additional factor – a COVID-bump – should be considered when assessing reasonable notice entitlements in Ontario. Is the Court changing its tune?     What is a COVID-bump? A COVID-bump is the argued for (by […]

Federal budget projected to go unbalanced for next half century

by The Niagara Independent

Temporary House of Commons Chamber in West Block. Federal parliamentarians will meet in the space until at least 2030, as Centre Block undergoes $5 billion worth of renovations. While a long way away, the renovations will be complete some four decades before the federal government is projected to achieve fiscal balance. Photo credit: Parliament of […]

Vaccination and reopening – the carrot or stick approach

by Ian McLean

Photo credit: Pexels/Gustavo Fring Vaccinations are the silver bullet to end COVID-19. In fact, they are the only thing to protect our businesses, families, and communities. Around the world, including Canada, virtually all new COVID deaths and hospitalizations are occurring among unvaccinated people. Where vaccines are available, there is no reason that anyone 12 or […]

Autonomous driving is finally here – or is it?

by Karin Schnarr

Last Saturday marked the 165th birthday of Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American who invented the first alternating current motor. The company Tesla, helmed by CEO Elon Musk, took the occasion to release the long-awaited Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta Version 9 software, the next advancement in the company’s plan for autonomous driving vehicles.

Photo credit: Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko Recall the passing of Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 that provided protection from COVID-19 related liabilities to Ontarians – including employers and businesses – who act within its parameters so that: (a) no proceedings may be brought or maintained against them that relate to COVID-19 related liability causes of action, regardless […]

First Nations and the petroleum industry – from conflict to cooperation

by Tom Flanagan

There are many signs of growing cooperation between First Nations and the oil and gas industry. Production of hydrocarbons on reserve land is economically important to dozens of First Nations. Although a few First Nations opposed the Northern Gateway, TMX, and Coastal Gas Link pipelines, most were willing to sign transit agreements that offered them substantial benefits in cash, employment, and contract opportunities. First Nation leaders now routinely join petroleum executives in public forums to encourage support for the industry. First Nations are even taking an ownership stake in the industry by investing in pipelines and other projects.

Economy must be fully reopened before Canada heads to the ballot box

by Ian McLean

Only in Ottawa during a pandemic would the top issue of the day be forcing an unnecessary federal election.
With the House of Commons rising for the summer last week, speculation has ramped up of the possibility of a fall federal election.

Global tax cartel is a march to higher taxes and more corporate welfare

by Franco Terrazzano

Canadian politicians like Chrystia Freeland see tax competition as a “race to the bottom.”

But for the rest of us, a global tax cartel will mean an inevitable march toward higher tax bills and more pork for companies with access to politicians.

Considerations for returning to the workplace: mandatory vaccination policies

by Sheryl Johnson

On June 30 Ontario moves to Step 2 of its phased reopening plan. Given that the province-wide vaccination rate has surpassed established targets, can employers impose mandatory vaccination policies as part of their roadmaps to reopen?

Reopening the Ontario economy requires a collective effort

by Ian McLean

As we think back to the last 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic we will remember the three lockdowns of the provincial economy in Ontario.

Is it time to move Ottawa out of Ottawa?

by Loleen Berdahl

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in much of the federal public service shifting to remote work. Ottawa invested in telecommunications and found new ways for employees to work effectively from far-flung locations.

Vaccines critical to reopening Ontario economy

by Ian McLean

There is no doubt that vaccines are the silver bullet to end the current COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, there are many effective tools for cutting risks to businesses and residents across Ontario. One of the most important tools is rapid screening kits.

Constructive dismissal in Ontario – a tale of two decisions

by Sheryl Johnson

There are two recent decisions of the Ontario Superior Court that contradict one another on the issue of whether placing an employee on IDEL (Infectious Disease Emergency Leave) amounts to common law constructive dismissal.

On June 10, Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office (FAO) released its spring 2021 ‘Economic and Budget Outlook’ report. The report provides an overview of the province’s current finances and an assessment of future economic outlook.

Do you ever feel good when someone won’t tell you how much something costs – something you have to pay for?

No? Me neither.

Teachers’ compensation is the cost elephant in the room

by Jay Goldberg

Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca. Del Duca recently announced that, if elected, he would add several billion more to the province’s already bloated education budget. Photo credit: Postmedia Network/John Lappa

While thousands of Ontario teachers are receiving six-figure salaries, a budget crunch at the Ministry of Education means it’s time to bring their sky-high pay down to earth.

Short answer: Very little in law in Ontario. This is regardless of such considerations as: the timing of an employee’s termination prior to the pandemic, during, or due to the pandemic; and the actual time it takes an employee to find new employment. This is not to say that terminations during the pandemic, depending on the individual circumstances, may not have a negative public relations or brand impact, but that is another issue.

Politicians haven’t been honest about their carbon taxes

by Franco Terrazzano

When you got straight A’s on a report card, it’s a good bet you rushed home from the school bus to show your mom and dad. Maybe they even stuck it on the fridge. But if that report card was covered with F’s you probably weren’t that eager to bring it up at dinner time.

Trudeau is sticking future generations with his spending bill

by Franco Terrazzano

Canadian babies born on federal budget day 2021 had more than $28,000 of debt the moment they opened their eyes. That’s each Canadian’s share of the federal government’s $1-trillion debt. And it’s going up.

By the time those little ones blow out their candles on their fifth birthday, Ottawa projects their shares of the federal debt will be about $35,000 each.

The changing nature of work in Ontario

by Sheryl Johnson

In re-examining your workplace, consider your workplace realities and what is and will be important to address and what you should be prepared to deal with.

In doing so, consider what your employees’ current terms and conditions of employment are, relative to what they should be going forward to protect your business, reduce potential liabilities, and increase inclusion.

The party with taxpayers’ money must be put to bed

by Jay Goldberg

Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to end the party with taxpayers’ money. Instead, he’s replaced the iPod playlist and chip dip with the booming beats of a live DJ and a laser light show.

When he was campaigning across the province during the 2018 election, Ford promised to end the government’s free-spending ways and restore fiscal responsibility to Queen’s Park.

What the United States can learn from Canada’s cannabis clarity

by Michael J. Armstrong and Paul Seaborn

The inherent contradictions of American cannabis laws seem to appear in the news almost every week.

At the state level, for example, Virginia recently became the latest jurisdiction to allow adult cannabis use, effective this July 1. But just days later, a court upheld United States federal tax laws that treat state-licensed cannabis businesses as illegal drug traffickers.

Canada’s next natural gas market – Asia, where prices are 775 per cent higher

by Mark Milke and Ven Venkatachalam

If you’ve heard that Canada should skip plans to export natural gas to Asia, including from a few anti-oil and gas academics, you’ll notice one theme that pops up: how Canadian energy firms really shouldn’t waste their time, because there’s no money in it. This reasoning is daft. If there was no profit potential, energy firms would figure it out or go broke trying. The attempt by some to “helpfully” warn off Canadian energy companies is a transparent attempt by anti-oil and gas advocates to find yet another reason to bash one of Canada’s biggest employers and providers of tax revenues to all levels of governments.

Nearly one million in taxpayer dollars used by CMHC changing name

by James Wood

Documents show the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has spent over $900,000 on a plan to change its name, even though former CEO Evan Siddall told a parliamentary committee no public funds had been spent on the project.

Taxpayers shouldn’t bailout Laurentian University

by Jay Goldberg

It’s a bad idea to keep adding water to a leaky bucket. Millions of dollars have been gushing out of Laurentian University for years. And it’s not right to plug the holes with taxpayers’ cash.

Laurentian University is facing a debt crisis of its own making, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s political opponents are calling on the government to come to its rescue.

Freeland must watch out for the quicksand of debt interest

by Franco Terrazzano

If you think the federal government’s so called historic spending on a national child-care scheme is big, wait until you hear how much the government is spending to cover its debt interest costs.
In its 2021 budget, the Justin Trudeau government is promising to spend $30 billion over five years on a national child-care program. That’s a tonne of money considering we couldn’t afford it pre-pandemic.

Federal government plans to spend more on everything with no plan to pay for it

by Franco Terrazzano

The British politician Nigel Lawson once said: “To govern is to choose – to appear to be unable to choose is to appear to be unable to govern.”

If Lawson is correct, then the only conclusion to be drawn from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s federal budget is that the Trudeau Liberals appear to be unable to govern.

In Budget 2021, Freeland needs to get runaway federal spending under control

by Aaron Wudrick and Franco Terrazzano

As Canadians wait to see just what will be in the first federal budget in more than two years, this much is certain: that the amount of red ink will surge past any other deficit records in Canada’s modern history.

What’s less certain is whether Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland plans to put Canada on a path back to fiscal sanity, or if she simply plans a dangerous double-down on sky-high spending.

Hardworking Ontarians need help, and Ford can give it to them

by Jay Goldberg

Going for a drive is one of the few things families can do to get out of the house, but now they’re being hit with gas prices that have spiked to their highest point in two years. Filling up a minivan now costs $95.

Local chambers of commerce comment on new ‘stay-at-home’ order

by Nicholas Tibollo

Though the distribution of vaccines to Ontario’s most vulnerable populations has seen deaths due to Covid-19 fall off precipitously in the last few months, daily case rates are on the rise. In an effort to slow the precarious climb of positive transmissions, the Ford government recently made the difficult decision to thrust the entire province into its second ‘stay-at-home’ order of the pandemic.

Dining out helped feed the soul and felt safer than many shopping experiences

by Sherri Haigh

When it comes to dining out, the experience has always been just as important to me as the food.
As Niagara eases back into the “Red Zone” and restaurants slowly begin to open again, I wondered, was I ready to get back out there? The barrage of messages about staying home had been ingrained in my mind. But, after a very long stretch of cooking at home and take out, I longed for the restaurant experience.

Ontario union workers push to save critical Line 5 pipeline

by Shawn Logan

Sarnia’s Scott Archer could only shake his head when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared an energy emergency in the midst of a severe February storm. The union leader said the declaration was particularly galling given the governor continues a fight to shut down the pipeline responsible for providing most of the heating propane for her state.

Darryl Sittler Captains a Private Sector Team Looking to Score for Ontario Businesses

by The Niagara Independent

A new private sector relief fund is being launched this week to help support as many Ontario food and beverage establishments as possible in reopening and recovering from the financial setbacks of the pandemic. Hockey legend Darryl Sittler has laced up his skates to endorse the Restaurant & Bar Support Fund, which looks to raise as much as $5 million for Ontario restaurants, bars, pubs, pool halls and sports bars.

Innovation during lockdown

by Brock Dickinson

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has made things difficult for many small businesses over the past year. From initial shocks to our supply chains, to mandatory social distancing, to fluctuating lockdowns, it’s been a challenging year for many. But with a growing array of vaccines available, there are increasing signs of hope, and the first indications of an economic recovery.

Aerobiovac Canada hopes to see air decontamination system in Canadian hospitals

by Kevin Vallier

Dr. David Kirschman began his medical career as a spinal surgeon in Ohio. In addition to spending hours in the operating rooms trying to fix people’s spines, Kirschman has an entrepreneurial side to him. He likes to invent things that will solve problems and benefit people around the world.

Growing a flower business and giving back

by Kevin Vallier

John Van Vliet started in the floral industry back in 1993 buying and selling Ontario grown flowers. From 2006 until just last year he had a prosperous business distributing flowers into Rochester, NY and northern Pennsylvania. Thanks to the global pandemic that successful business was cut short.

Will the pandemic feed cancel culture? How to Avoid it.

by Sheryl Johnson

Given our limited social activities during the pandemic, I’d hazard to guess Ontarians are avid consumers of news and social media more than ever. Is or can this quote still be true? Or true within limits given the ease, speed, and vast distribution of a media and social media messages with the use of cancel culture on line?

Innovate Niagara alum, raises one of the largest investments in EdTech history

by Special to TNI

In 2011, Prodigy Education founders Alex Peters and Rohan Mahimker came to Innovate Niagara to explore the potential of an idea, which started as a fourth-year undergrad project.

Nearly 10 years later Prodigy, a curriculum-aligned math game for students in grades 1 through 8, has become one of the fastest-growing EdTech companies in North America with over 100 million users worldwide.

The Ontario wine industry is ‘at a fork in the road’- Part 2

by Carolyn Hurst

In Ontario the channels for Ontario Craft wineries to sell wine are constrained.
The LCBO controls all channels for pricing, sales and distribution. The Canadian consumer has been fed a constant stream of advertising and marketing from well-funded international wine companies. Antiquated alcohol legislation and the retail environment favours the large incumbents and imported wines. And Ontario wines struggle to distance themselves from a consumer perception of low quality and high cost. After decades of LCBO advertising and marketing to favour imported wines, Ontario grown VQA wines have less than 10% market share in our local domestic market. Our market is dominated by large conglomerate-made international blends presented as local product and cheap imported bulk wines are dumped into our market. Imported wine production is subsidized in their countries of origin and heavily subsidized marketing efforts place them ahead of our products on the shelves of the LCBO.

The Ontario wine industry is ‘at a fork in the road’- Part 1

by Carolyn Hurst

Every problem, challenge or impediment to the growth in our industry is caused by a complicated web of past government decisions, regulations and legislation. And at the heart of all this complexity is the collection of tax revenue. There has never been an Ontario government view of our industry as an economic growth sector or a cultural jewel. The Ontario Ministry of Finance holds all the cards and therefore, for almost 100 years the Provincial government has regarded the Ontario wine industry as nothing more than a tax opportunity.

Manufacturer moves jobs from overseas to Beamsville facility

by The Niagara Independent

The Ontario government is investing $2 million from the Ontario Together Fund to support Ophardt Hygiene in Beamsville as the local manufacturer of soap and sanitizer dispensers expands, creating 75 new jobs and retaining 96 positions while producing vital products to support the fight against COVID-19.

Biden’s canceling of Keystone a “punch in the face” to Canada

by EnergyNow Media

TC Energy Corp will eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs in coming weeks and halt work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline after U.S. President Joe Biden revoked the project’s presidential permit within hours of being sworn into office, the company said in an email to employees.
Calgary-based TC Energy confirmed the authenticity of the email, sent by KXL President Richard Prior on Wednesday and seen by Reuters.

Public will have chance to own Guinness World Record items

by Kevin Vallier

For more than four decades the iconic Clifton Hill tourist attraction, Guinness World Records Museum, entertained and mesmerized millions of visitors from all over the globe. While the popular Niagara Falls landmark has closed its doors permanently, members of the public can soon bid on some of the unique items that were once on display.

Unleashing Ontario’s auto sector

by Vic Fedeli

It’s been a banner season for Ontario’s auto industry and its workers. Over several months, we’ve seen more than $5 billion in investments, with upgrades and new technologies for facilities across the province. These investments will be critical to the long-term sustainability of the sector and will help to bolster our vibrant auto parts supply chain, meaning a positive outlook for the workers and their families who rely on the good jobs the auto industry provides.

Protecting Ontarians contributing to Ontario’s recovery from the pandemic

by Sheryl Johnson

On Nov. 20, 2020, the Government of Ontario Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020 came into force. Under Schedule 1 of the Act retroactive protection against civil liability from March 17, 2020 has expressly been provided to any ”person” who makes a “good faith effort” to follow public health guidance and laws relating to COVID-19.

Blackberry Stock Price Rollercoaster Continues

by The Niagara Independent

The once shining star of the Canadian tech sector Blackberry saw its stock price on a whirlwind tour over the past few months.
Following a late 2020 rally of 37 per cent on the news of an inked deal between Blackberry and Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Jeff Bezos’, its price has since fell by 23 per cent following underwhelming third quarter fiscal 2020 numbers.

No 50 Shades of Grey – Just 2

by Sheryl Johnson

Where are we at so far in 2021?
As likely everyone is aware, when Ontario Regulation 780/20 came into effect on Dec. 26, 2020, Ontario entered the “Grey Zone” – aka our second province-wide lockdown. Southern Ontario (27 regions including Niagara) for 28-days and Northern Ontario for 14-days (7 regions) if all goes to plan.

It’s been a persistent narrative that opponents of Canada’s oil and gas industry eagerly wield even as a growing number of First Nations turn to energy projects to carve out brighter futures for their communities.

Businesses facing massive insurance premium hikes

by Kevin Vallier

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has sounded the alarm bells that businesses of all sizes, but particularly small businesses, were being hit with yet another body blow during an already horrific year.

Anti-Trust lawsuit filed against Facebook by US federal and state regulators

by The Niagara Independent

The popular and omnipresent social media platform Facebook is facing two anti-trust lawsuits for allegedly eliminating any competition that may threaten Facebook’s overwhelming supremacy within the social media environment.

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an, Inc. company (NASDAQ: AMZN), and BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB, TSX: BB), a worldwide leader in intelligent security software and services, announced a multi-year, global agreement to develop and market BlackBerry’s Intelligent Vehicle Data Platform, known as IVY. BlackBerry IVY is a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that will allow automakers to provide a consistent and secure way to read vehicle sensor data, normalize it, and create actionable insights from that data both locally in the vehicle and in the cloud.

Twisted Pig introduces old world Italian charm with a local flavor

by Sherri Haigh

It only took one mouthful to know this is the star of the show.

The silky-smooth gnocchi melts in my mouth and while the rich luxurious flavours of the gorgonzola sauce are lip smacking, a new surprisingly sweet flavour takes over and my tastebuds are now fully awakened. Say hello to the oh so sweet addition of Rosewood Estates wildflower honey.

The business of big Pharma and government approval

by Kristina Gentes

As Niagara residents wonder about when we might be headed into the “Red Zone” and lose the ability to shop for Christmas/Hanukah or go the gym and eat in a restaurant, it seems puzzling that, in a country as fortunate and well off as Canada, we are learning that most similar countries to us, like those in the G7, will have access to COVID-19 vaccines sooner than we will. If you’re wondering why, it might be because successive governments of all political stripes at both the federal and provincial level have allowed it to happen. They have plowed full steam ahead on policies that may sound fantastic because they will save some money on a budget line item but they don’t fully understand that costs will end up increasing on another line item either immediately, or at some point in the future.

Riding the second wave: Why COVID’s second wave will be worse for small business

by Brock Dickinson

As Niagara teeters on the brink of a second lockdown, we’re starting to see some signs of just what this second wave will look like. Put bluntly, it doesn’t look good.
We always knew that the battle with COVID-19 would be a back and forth affair. One of the earliest major public policy documents addressing the crisis was called “The Hammer and the Dance”, in which Tomas Pueyo described how – even after we lower the “hammer” of quarantine and isolation – we would enter an extended period of “dance” in which the infection rate rises and falls, and our shutdowns and public health measures follow suit.

Perplexing pandemic performance

by Adam Bosak

With the global economy in the doldrums, the stock market’s booming performance seems to reflect a totally different reality, leaving many investors to wonder why.
The economic damage wrought by lockdowns and measures to control the spread of COVID-19 has been deep and sustained, leaving the global economy in a severe recession. Although most economists agree the global economy will bounce back in 2021, this outlook is being tempered daily in the face of the recent resurgence in global infection rates and continued signs of a softening in the economic recovery.

How two companies sprinted ahead in extraordinary race for a COVID vaccine

by Michael Erman & Julie Steenhuysen

Just as the novel coronavirus was gaining a foothold in the United States in mid-March, Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla called on his top vaccine scientists and laid out a clear mission:
“He basically said, ‘Your mandate is to get this vaccine made. And if you need resources, you come and you ask for them, and you’re going to get them’,” chief viral vaccine scientist Philip Dormitzer told Reuters.

Like Pfizer last week, Moderna’s promising vaccine moves the markets up

by The Niagara Independent

Just like last week’s positive COVID-19 vaccine news out of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which brought worldwide gains to stock markets, yesterday’s positive news from Moderna also moved stock markets higher.
Pre-opening of the North American stock markets, Moderna and its vaccine partner the National Institutes of Health, announced that early Stage 3 results showed their in-trial vaccine prevented over 94.5% of infections. Moderna has 30,000 people enrolled in their Stage 3 trials which started in July. They reported that of 95 participants who got COVID-19, 90 had the placebo and only five had the vaccine.

Niagara to benefit from Heddle Shipyards contract

by Kevin Vallier

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was in Hamilton yesterday providing his daily updates. While the announcement was made in the Steel City there was a Garden City tie to the news.
Ontario-based Heddle Shipyards has entered into a new long-term agreement with Vancouver-based shipyard Seaspan to fabricate Ontario-made ship components under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This will have a positive impact on Heddle’s St. Catharines shipyard at the Port Weller dry docks.

Pfizer’s vaccine success moves stock markets up

by The Niagara Independent

Yesterday’s positive news from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on the Covid-19 vaccine front, brought worldwide gains to stock markets. Pre-opening of the North American stock markets, Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech announced that early results showed their in-trial vaccine prevented over 90% of infections.

U.S. election will help Canada’s oilpatch no matter who wins

by David Yager

The United States has always played an oversized role in the development, success and future of western Canada’s oil and gas industry.
The upcoming US election on November 3 will affect the Canadian oilpatch yet again. Two materially different presidential outcomes are assured, be it Donald Trump or Joe Biden. The impact will be significant. What happens in the US always is. The effects will not be evenly distributed. There will be winners and losers either way.

Niagara residents create new board game during COVID downtime

by Kevin Vallier

Two Niagara residents have created a new board game that has quickly been catching on with anyone who has tried the prototype.

Blake Sherk and Ben Gigone, both in their mid-twenties, would often hang out with friends and family pre-COVID and have a games night with the goal of just bringing friends together and having a few laughs. Both men realized that out of those conversations some people didn’t know each other as well as they thought. That’s when, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ the board game, was born.

Ontario bests dozen international options to secure half billion-dollar investment

by Nicholas Tibollo

On Friday, the Swiss-based pharmaceutical and medical diagnostics company Hoffmann-La Roche announced its intention to establish a new Global Pharma Technical Operations site in Mississauga.

The site, which will support Roche’s global manufacturing and supply chain operations, is expected to create 500 new highly-skilled jobs in just over three years — 200 by the end of 2020, and an additional 300 by the end of 2023.

Tourism sector weathers the COVID storm

by Kevin Vallier

It was a tourist season that won’t soon be forgotten by those operating in that sector.
Despite COVID-19 shattering any hope for a profitable summer, tourism operators in Canada’s number one tourist destination displayed remarkable resilience just to even partially open attractions and restaurants amidst a plethora of restrictions.

AstraZeneca’s COVID antibody drug heads into advanced trials

by Bloomberg

AstraZeneca Plc started late-stage trials for an antibody medicine against Covid-19 with a large investment from the U.S.
Two trials for more than 6,000 people are starting in the next few weeks looking at prevention, with plans for a further 4,000 adults to test the antibody medicine as a treatment, Astra said in a statement. The drug will be assessed for its ability to avoid infections for as much as a year in some people and as a pre-emptive medicine once patients have been exposed to the virus in others.

Massive hack-for-hire group uncovered by BlackBerry

by The Niagara Independent

Yesterday, a new report published by Kitchener-Waterloo’s BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) linked a known cyberespionage group, BAHAMUT, to an increasing amount of attacks targeting government officials and industry titans and also shed light on broad disinformation campaigns designed to further particular political issues and hamper the efforts of non-governmental organizations. While high ranking […]

Understanding the RESP

by The Niagara Independent

With the high cost of post-secondary education, many parents, grandparents and other family members recognize the need to save for a child’s education well before the expenses become a reality. That’s why the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is such a popular saving vehicle. Not only is the tax on the income accumulating in the plan deferred until funds are paid out, the federal government will also contribute to the plan through providing the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), which may be available to modest-income families. Some provinces offer additional RESP incentives for their residents.
Despite the acronym RESP being fairly common there are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what it really is and how it works.

What being in Stage 3 currently means for employers in Ontario

by Sheryl Johnson

With the growing concerns regarding the recent uptick in cases, the Ontario Government passed the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, Ontario Regulation 364/20 “Rules for Areas in Stage 3” on Friday, September 25, 2020 effective Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 12:01 am. Hand in hand with these “new rules” Ontario’s Ministry of Health through the province’s Chief Medical Officer released a screening “recommendation” along with a “COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Business and Organizations)”.

National poll shows Canadians are most concerned about the economy

by EnergyNow Media

The state of our country’s economy is the biggest issue of the day for Canadians, according to a new poll from IPSOS. The poll has 44 per cent of Canadians choosing the economy as the biggest priority for government, even putting it ahead of healthcare (chosen as the top issue by 36 per cent of those surveyed). All other issues fall far down the list of concerns. When it comes to strategic direction, nearly two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) say that natural gas and oil need to be a part of Canada’s recovery and more than half (55 per cent) believe supporting jobs in Canadian natural gas and oil is more important than ever because we need it to kick start our economy.

Bank CEOs said to warn feds against spiraling Canada debt

by Bloomberg

Canada’s largest lenders are warning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government it doesn’t have carte blanche to run massive budget deficits, even though there’s some room for additional spending in the next couple of years.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland held a call with chief executives from the nation’s biggest banks last week to discuss the economic outlook and potential policy steps. She was told that while low interest rates provide some scope to borrow more in coming years to support the recovery, it’s imperative the government recommit to specific new debt targets to impose discipline on the budgeting process, according to one person familiar with the discussion.

New Niagara business talk show hopes to inspire

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Falls resident Sheila DeLuca has teamed up with Business Link Media Group and Spark Niagara to produce a new series of one-on-one interviews with local business leaders that will air monthly on Business Link’s YouTube channel.
Inspired by seeing how Niagara businesses pivoted their roles during the pandemic to help their communities, DeLuca, founder of DeLuca Leadership, wanted to shine a spotlight on community leaders who have stepped up to help others not only during the pandemic but throughout their careers. Guests will come from a variety of backgrounds like private business, healthcare, education and technology.

Amazon lands in Hamilton: 1,500 full-time jobs

by Kevin Vallier

Hamilton has landed the big one.
Earlier this week, Amazon Canada announced their intent to create a fulfilment centre and delivery station in Hamilton. It will be one of the largest local investments in terms of square footage in the City’s history and is expected to bring over 1,500 new jobs when the facilities are scheduled to open in 2021.

Added certainty and flexibility for employers in these uncertain times

by Sheryl Johnson

As you recall, when the deemed termination provisions of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) related to temporary leaves of absences caused by the March 17, 2020 declared state of emergency loomed on the horizon, an important new regulation that materially amended the ESA was passed – the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”) Regulation.
This Regulation applied to non-unionized workplaces retroactively and created the concept of the “COVID-19 Period”. The COVOD Period ran from March 1, 2020 until six weeks after the state of emergency is extinguished or Sept. 4, 2020 – until Sept. 3, 2020.

Recent polls by the Pew Research Center show that 88% of Canadians think our governments have done a “good job” with the COVID-19 crisis. In part, this may be because the Canadian government recognized early on that one of the real danger points in the pandemic was a possible loss of consumer confidence. If people believed they were going to be in financial trouble, they would stop spending, start hoarding, and leave their dollars in the banks – all of which could trigger a broader collapse of the economy.

Mountainview breaks ground on Fonthill condominiums

by The Niagara Independent

For Niagara’s largest home builder working through a global pandemic has been challenging. But with their latest project in full swing and others on the horizon, Mountainview Building Group is glad to be launching new projects.

The award-winning home builder has now broken ground on one of their most anticipated communities – One Fonthill. The group recently joined together with future residents to celebrate the beginning of construction on the first condo building called One Twenty.

Can Niagara benefit from Brexit?

by Brock Dickinson

Thinking about Niagara’s Opportunities in a Post-Brexit World Remember Brexit? In the midst of a global pandemic, a related economic slump, the WE charity scandal and the usual Trump-related political insanity south of the border, one can be forgiven for overlooking yet another international crisis that has dropped from the headlines. As 2020 rolls along […]

St. Catharines hospitality leaders hoping to bounce back

by Kevin Vallier

The Nitsopoulos family has been in the hospitality business for decades. Owning the majority of St. Catharines’ hotels as well as a number of restaurants over the years, they’ve seen ups and downs in the business cycle but nothing could have prepared them for the crushing financial blow that COVID-19 has delivered the family business over the past six months.

How natural resources can relaunch the Canadian economy

by Philip Cross

In the COVID-19 recovery phase, natural resources are well-positioned to step in to assume their traditional leadership role in creating wealth and jobs for Canadians, writes economist Philip Cross.

(Re) Gaining confidence – three ways to get back on track after COVID-19

by Adam Bosak

With so many investors thrown off course by the unprecedented downturn, the stock market’s turnaround since March 23, and the increasing signs of an economic rebound underway, this has led to a cautious optimism. Over just the last quarter (April through to June), the U.S. stock market has soared over 20%, while the Canadian market has gained almost 17%. While both markets remain below their values at the beginning of the year, both have regained nearly all of the losses they incurred in March.

Alberta to join other provinces in exploring small nuclear technology

by The Niagara Independent

The Alberta government says it plans to join three other provinces in exploring small-scale nuclear technology.
In early December the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to develop SMR technology. In addition, the federal government has developed the Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap that states using small modular nuclear reactors can help meet Canada’s climate change commitments.

Moores parent company files for bankruptcy

by The Niagara Independent

Moores Clothing for Men, which has locations in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, is the latest retail chain to file for bankruptcy protection amid the pandemic.
Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank stores, announced it will continue to operate most stores during restructuring and expected to reduce its funded debt by $630 million.

Simpson honoured with United Way award

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara-one-the-Lake pharmacist and business owner Sean Simpson said receiving the Anita Robertson Legacy Award is “bitter-sweet”. Both Simpson and Robertson spent countless hours volunteering with the United Way as well as many other boards and charities throughout the Region and knew each other well. Sadly, in a tragic accident, Anita, along with her husband Joe and their daughter Laura died in July 2018 after their plane crashed in rural Maine.

Liberal energy policies are making jobs and investment disappear study finds

by The Niagara Independent

The Trudeau government’s energy policies have contributed to substantial job loss and a 35 per cent decline in oil and gas investment over the last five years—and that’s just the beginning of the bad news.
According to a new Statistics Canada report, investment in the energy sector could shrink by an additional 40 per cent this year and see up to 220,000 more jobs lost. The report also noted the obvious—that the “oil and gas industry is an important contributor to the Canadian economy.”

Welland to be home to innovative home manufacturer

by Kevin Vallier

An Alberta home building company is set to begin manufacturing its unique homes in Welland creating an initial 100 jobs with that number projected to increase to about 600. Management will arrive on site in the coming weeks with production scheduled to begin in mid-August.

Small business and the Conservative leadership race

by Catherine Swift

As the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership races enters its final weeks, more attention is being paid to the platforms of the four candidates. One important segment of the Canadian economy that has been consistently neglected and mistreated by the Trudeau Liberal government is small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Considering that the SME sector represents about half of Canada’s economy and employment, it is pretty foolish for any government to not work to bolster the strength of this sector. But the current Liberal government clearly has no respect for SMEs, as indicated early on by Trudeau’s own erroneous characterization of small business owners as “tax cheats”, and their subsequent punitive changes to small business tax policies that were completely unnecessary.

Time to revisit employee contracts after recent court decision

by Sheryl Johnson

Labour costs in Canada increased to 112.10 points in the first quarter of 2020 from 110.94 points in the fourth quarter of 2019. Added to this are the losses in revenue and increased costs of doing – or not doing business – during the COVID-19 pandemic and the declared state of emergency.

Canada’s billion dollar opportunity

by EnergyNow Media

The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed weaknesses in our global supply chain for critical key industries. As a result, industries around the world are now looking at how they source and operate supply chains. Experts are calling for renewed focus on building local supply capabilities to ensure that Canadian industry can operate effectively in times of disruption. The oil sands could supply one of these raw materials, but it’s not what you think.

Niagara employers and employees among the hardest hit in Ontario

by Kevin Vallier

According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO), St. Catharines – Niagara’s employment fell by 15.2% between February and May and represents the second hardest hit area in the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Windsor experienced an employment drop of 19.1% in the same period.

CFIB launches campaign in Ontario to help boost local shopping

by The Niagara Independent

Premier Ford joined Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) president Dan Kelly recently to launch the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s (CFIB’s) new #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign in Ontario to encourage local shopping and amplify the actions of other organizations supporting local businesses through COVID-19 recovery.
The Premier and Dan Kelly were joined for the Ontario campaign launch at Tre Rose Bakery in Etobicoke by Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Toronto councillor Michael Ford.

Bearer of Bad News: How COVID-19’s biggest business impacts are yet to come

by Brock Dickinson

By any standard, 2020 can be described as a pretty bad year. We’ve had global pandemics and unprecedented unemployment, police killings and unrest in the streets, stock market crashes and global trade wars. But what if I was to tell you that – from a business perspective at least – 2021 could be even worse?
I’m not one to preach doom and gloom or the end of the world – but sometimes it’s important to recognize what we’re facing, and approach the future with eyes wide open. And the more prepared we are for what comes next, the better we may be able to respond.

Mapping the road to recovery

by Trevin Stratton PhD

In the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, it is difficult for Canadians, our families, businesses and governments to look beyond confronting the immediate effects of COVID-19. However, even as Canadians continue supporting each other today, we must also begin looking over the horizon to the post-COVID-19 world to start planning how our country and economy can emerge stronger.

800 Enbridge staff take voluntary buyouts offered to cut costs

by The Niagara Independent

Enbridge Inc. says 800 employees have voluntarily left the company, allowing it to avoid layoffs as it cuts costs to counter impacts from COVID-19 and lower global oil prices.
The Calgary-based pipeline company announced in May it would defer $1 billion in capital spending this year and reduce costs by $300 million through measures including salary cuts and voluntary staff reductions.

Innovate Niagara to help ‘futureproof businesses’ in Southwestern Ontario

by The Niagara Independent

Innovate Niagara has been selected to help deliver Digital Main Street programming across the province. As part of a $57-million investment announced today by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) and the Province of Ontario, Innovate Niagara will work with its regional innovation partners Communitech, WEtech Alliance, TechAlliance, Innovation Guelph, Innovation Factory, […]

Office Politics: How the Office is Changing in the Wake of Covid-19

by Brock Dickinson

Last week I had a chance to sit in on a video meeting with architects and real estate developers in the United States. As they considered possible projects and designs, the discussion inevitably turned to questions about the impacts of COVID-19 on the future real estate market. Part of this is just trying to figure out how the real estate market will behave when things improve – but part of it is also a bigger set of questions. How will the real estate market change after COVID-19? Will offices (for example) still be in demand? For that matter, will the office as we know it still exist?

“Persons Responsible” Beware

by Sheryl Johnson

COVID-19 and the province’s Declared State of Emergency (in place currently until June 30, 2020) has caused the rules of employment law to be in a state of flux, with business and employment relationships changing how they operate. There are, and will be, many unknowns as we move forward. Some certainty have been provided by amendments to employment legislation and the enactment of new regulations providing new standards during or related to the Declared State of Emergency. Such regulations are not themselves static. They have been passed, updated and will likely be updated moving forward as the economy re-opens. One is Regulation 82/20 – Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses passed on May 18, 2019, which is reviewed in this article.

Canada’s big banks see quarter results plummet

by The Niagara Independent

The Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal said earlier this week that their fiscal quarter profit was cut in half. Both banks were forced to set aside huge amounts of money to possible loan losses due to COVID-19’s impact on the Canadian economy.

COVID-19 & Economic Development: Reaction, Response, Recovery

by Brock Dickinson

Canadian communities are now about two months into the COVID-19 crisis, and the passage of time has started to give us some insights into the pandemic’s impact on the economy – and what we can do to prepare for economic recovery. I’ve been running a series of online workshops for communities with the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC), and this article – the final piece in a three-part series for The Niagara Independent – draws on materials from sessions I ran for about 125 communities in April and May.

Oil Tanking drives down CPI – but COVID not the only reason

by Kelly Harris

To absolutely no one’s surprise the Consumer Price Index for April – more commonly know as the inflation rate – dropped into negative territory in Canada for the first time in more than a decade.

The last time the CPI was in the red was September 2009 as a result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Covid-19 & Economic Development: Reaction, Response, Recovery

by Brock Dickinson

Canadian communities are now about two months into the Covid-19 crisis, and the passage of time has started to give us some insights into the pandemic’s impact on the economy – and what we can do to prepare for economic recovery. I’ve been running a series of online workshops for communities across Canada, and this article – the second in a series of three for the Niagara Independent – draws on materials from a session I ran for 103 communities on April 30th (And for those who are interested, the Economic Developers Association of Canada has asked that I run this session again on May 26th – sign up details can be found at

Will the Internet and Social Media Kickstart Business In Niagara?

by The Niagara Independent

COVID-19 has hit hard. Businesses shutdown, people have lost their jobs and are sitting at home waiting for the day they can restart their business and/or go back to work. Starting just last weekend across Niagara and the province, hardware and safety supply stores were allowed to open to the general public to shop, with safety measures laid out by the Government of Ontario.

COVID-19 & Economic Development: Reaction, Response, Recovery

by Brock Dickinson

Part One: Reaction
Canadian communities are now about two months into the COVID-19 crisis, and the passage of time has started to give us some insights into the pandemic’s impact on the economy – and what we can do to prepare for economic recovery. I’ve been running a series of online workshops for communities across Canada, and this article – the first in a series of three over the next three issues of The Niagara Independent – draws on materials from a session I ran for 103 communities on April 30th.

No, Canada Cannot Keep Borrowing Money

by Cornelius Christian

To pay for COVID-19 programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), federal and provincial governments are expected to borrow 12 per cent of the country’s income, adding to a public debt of more than $770 billion.

Trade in the Post-COVID-19 World

by Catherine Swift

Now that the minds of policy makers and others begin to turn to how our economy will operate after the COVID-19 crisis has passed, one issue arising is how will Canada’s relationship change with its major trading partners. In any given year, Canadian exports and imports each represent about one-third of our Gross Domestic Product, so any change in our international trading arrangements is a big deal. Over the last couple of decades, Canada has also signed several substantial trade agreements, further broadening our economic involvement with other countries. The economies of all Canadian provinces are significantly dependent on trade, with Ontario and Alberta being particularly vulnerable to trade disruption.

What does Canada’s economy need after COVID?

by Steven Globerman and Jake Fuss

In the coming months, the federal government will receive numerous suggestions for how to kick-start the economy after the COVID crisis passes. One such suggestion from Jim Stanford, former chief economist for the Canadian Auto Workers union and frequent contributor to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, calls for a modern “Marshall Plan.”

Business Community Working Towards Recovery Phase but Immediate Risks Remain

by The Niagara Independent

Businesses have been particularly hard hit from the widespread COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing to work closely with various levels of government to address the challenges of today and what an economic recovery could look like.

Why Canada Can’t Afford to Let Start-Ups Crash During COVID-19

by Koleya Karringten

When my father Darsell and I started Absolute Combustion almost 15 years ago, we imagined that one day, we’d be a world-leading cleantech firm with thousands of employees, a strong international market and good prospects for growing even bigger. And so we poured everything we had into making our dream a reality – every penny in the bank, every possible hour in the day, and made every sacrifice we could on a risky bet that maybe one day, it would pay off.

Why Companies Are Turning To Digital Marketing To Survive COVID-19

by Bernard Marr

In the coming days, weeks and months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, in many cases it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.

HISTORIC DEAL: Oil Price War Ends With Historic OPEC+ Deal to Cut Output

by EnergyNow Media

The world’s top oil producers pulled off a historic deal to cut global petroleum output by nearly a 10th, putting an end to the devastating price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
After a week-long marathon of bilateral calls and video conferences of ministers from the OPEC+ alliance and the Group of 20 nations, an agreement finally emerged to tackle the impact of the pandemic on oil demand.

Economic Development in the Age of COVID-19

by Brock Dickinson

The difference between economics and economic development is like the difference between science and engineering … scientists might know the theory, but you wouldn’t want them to build a bridge. The reason we trust engineers to build bridges is because they’ve actually had to build them many times before, learning and verifying what works each time they do. Engineering is “applied” science, based on the insights and skills built by generations of doers and builders. In that sense, economic development is applied economics, and it builds on the insights and experiences of generations of street-level practitioners working to strengthen local economies.

COVID-19 is not a snow day

by Joel “Thor” Neeb

Lessons from elite military teams to stay focused during periods of uncertainty.
How are you handling the coronavirus pandemic so far? The stock market has seen massive swings, gyms and restaurants are closed, everybody’s working from home. The new normal is surreal. Feels like we’re living through history.

Opportunity in Crisis

by Catherine Swift

While we all hunker down and wait out the Covid19 health and economic crisis – and dearly hope we see some light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later – there will also be opportunities to consider once the worst has passed and we move into recovery mode. One longstanding inequity that has become even more glaringly obvious during this crisis is the large and growing gap between the compensation and benefits of the vast majority of public sector workers and the private sector taxpayers who pay for them.

Just the Start

by Kelly Harris

When Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips stood in Queen’s Park on Wednesday to deliver an economic update in place of the 2020 budget he had one job – make sure the cure for COVID-19 isn’t worse than the pandemic itself.

By cure I mean the response from an economic standpoint, not the actual vaccination health care professionals and scientists around the world are working on right now.

Provinces orders businesses closed

by The Niagara Independent

Effective today at 11:59 p.m. all Ontario businesses not deemed to be essential are being ordered to close up shop. The Ontario Government announced the decision yesterday in order to help further contain the spread of COVID-19.

Niagara Falls tourism industry staying strong in hard times

by The Niagara Independent

Janice Thomson has stopped using the word “unprecedented”. The CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism has heard it too many times but she admits it’s hard to find another word to describe what has happened in Niagara, across Canada and around the world as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Thomson herself is in day six of self-quarantine after returning to Canada from a vacation abroad. She continues to work from home, speaking with tourism leaders and monitoring the situation on a daily basis. “The world has changed. Who would have ever expected something like this?”

Working Together During COVID-19: The Need for Personal Accountability by All

by Sheryl Johnson

While we are being reassured that the Ontario and Federal governments have implemented measures to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 as well as to assist with flatten the epidemic (EPI) curve of COVID-19, to do so truly requires every Canadian to conduct themselves in a socially conscious and responsible manner. This can be easier said than done – especially given economic considerations at play.

5 Ways to Help You Communicate Effectively This Week

by Conway Fraser

Leaders are usually the last person people show concern for during a crisis because they’re the boss (which apparently doesn’t make you human). I work with a lot of CEOs and can confirm they are human beings with families and challenges. So, do take time for your own wellness between fires. Everyone is counting on you to lead and you can’t afford to wear yourself out.

New nuclear technology is a game changer

by Kevin Vallier

They’re called SMRs, they will soon be a game changer for the world’s energy sector and Canada is at the forefront of their development.
SMRs or Small Nuclear Reactors have been around for a while, originally designed and built for naval use, but now they are coming online as part of the world’s power generating options. And they bring with them a lot of advantages.

Leaders Under Fire: New book looks at crisis communications

by Kevin Vallier

It will happen. That moment in time when something goes wrong, a tragedy occurs and the spotlight is shining brightly on a corporation for all the wrong reasons. How best to handle crisis communications in the corporate world in the twenty-first century? Two of the most experienced leaders in this space have put pen to paper and compiled their experiences and lessons learned over decades into a new book called Leaders Under Fire – The CEO’s Survival Guide to Navigating Corporate Crisis.

Getting Canada’s economic and climate house in order

by The Niagara Independent

Recent events demonstrate that Canada must urgently find common ground on how to balance climate policy with a commitment to support economic growth. Canadian businesses understand the serious need to address climate change and we urge you to use the upcoming federal budget as an opportunity to find a balance with our economic development.
The role of business is greater than just creating and providing the goods and services that people use. Business matters for other reasons: We invent. We innovate. We invest. We build wealth and, yes, we create the jobs that allow us to provide for ourselves and our families. We contribute to building strong communities and to addressing social problems, including climate change.

Uncertainty and low confidence shakes markets

by Kevin Vallier

There’s a lot going on in the world and the impact on the stock markets has been disastrous. From the potential of the Democrats south of the border electing a socialist leader in Bernie Sanders to take on current US president Donald Trump, to the Covid-19 virus that continues to spread across the globe to right here in Canada where protestors disrupted the national economy and tried to shut down Canada’s natural resource sector, markets around the globe are taking a serious hit.

Covid-19 Exposes World Economy as House of Cards

by Cornelius Christian

Last month, the number of those infected with novel coronavirus, Covid-19, was around 1,000. That number is now over 80,000, with over 2,700 dead — much worse than SARS. And these are only the confirmed cases; Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious diseases expert at Imperial College, London, suggests that there are hundreds of thousands of undetected cases. Both Ferguson and Harvard’s Marc Lipsitch, another virus researcher, claim that Covid-19 will infect 40 to 60 percent of the world’s population if left uncontrolled.

In response to this threat, the Canadian government continues to sit on its hands, and refuses to consider travel bans or meaningful quarantine measures. This is nothing new.

Breaching Employees’ Privacy Expectations

by Sheryl Johnson

Are you breaching your employees’ privacy expectations when you use their personal contact, health information or emergency contact information when you conduct employee wellness checks at home?
We have been taught under PIPEDA (recall the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) that you must generally obtain an individual’s consent when you collect, use or disclose an employee’s personal information – and such personal information must only be used by an employer regulated by PIPEDA or who adopted a policy that follows PIPEDA’s principles for the purposes for which it was collected. If you are going to use it for another purpose, you must obtain consent again.

Celebrate Bombardier’s evolution

by Aaron Wudrick

It has been a good couple of weeks for Bombardier.
That might sound strange, given that last week the company announced it was selling off its commercial aircraft business and this week it did the same with its troubled train division, both with a view to focusing its efforts on its private jet unit. But it’s also a clear sign the company is finally behaving like — gasp! — a normal business and doing a normal business thing: realizing parts of its operation are not very profitable and selling them off to focus on what is.

Canadian Banks Going Green Still Boost Loans to the Oil Industry

by Doug Alexander and Kevin Orland

Canada’s big banks may be embracing green, but that hasn’t stopped them from lending more and more money to fossil-fuel companies.
The six largest lenders had C$58.8 billion ($44.2 billion) in energy loans on their books at the end of the fiscal year, a 59% jump from five years ago, even after touting billions of dollars in climate-friendly commitments. There’s little sign of that trend abating even as oil and gas companies face increasing scrutiny over the the roles they play in climate change.

Niagara’s Angel network helping entrepreneurs spread their wings

by Kevin Vallier

A little over a decade ago 14 local business leaders came together all with the same mission – to establish a private sector investment group that would help local entrepreneurs launch their businesses. The Niagara Angel Network soon took flight and its current executive director Terry Kadwell has been there since the beginning; although that wasn’t necessarily his intention. “I got involved 11 years ago to help get it off the ground and seven years ago I became full time,” explained Kadwell.
While not much is known about the group and who is involved, Kadwell said that’s starting to change. “Originally we protected the anonymity of the angels but we realized lately that we are getting more traction by letting people know who’s in the group.”

What’s Really “Crazy”?

by Sheryl Johnson

When I was at a hearing the other day an organizational people leader present loudly declared: “Everyone can go get their own lunches today, I am not dealing with feeding you crazy people”. She was referring to me. I have Celiac Disease and was cross-contaminated the day prior. “Crazy” means not “normal,” in a “bad” way. In this one thoughtless statement this “leader” both stigmatized my disease and mental illness. Insulting someone by using the word “crazy” should not being occurring in an awakened society.

What every employer needs to know about the Novel Coronavirus

by Sheryl Johnson

The Novel Coronavirus virus involves a respiratory infection closely related to SARS and MERS and has been declared a global health emergency by WHO. Researchers are trying to work out the ways that it is transmitted and employers are wondering how the virus may affect their workplaces. This article provides some general information and reminds employers to educate their employees and keep up to date on the latest developments surrounding this virus.

Municipal investment tools – opening Ontario for Business

by Kelly Harris

Very early in my journalistic career I learned the mantra “if it bleeds it leads” and the various machinations of the term.

It didn’t always refer to the more macabre stories in nature. The phrase also refers to the stories that get people’s dander up the most – i.e. the latest in the endless teacher or school disputes or who is marching in what parade.

Carbon Tax – Who pays what and how

by Canadian Press

As of Jan. 1, every Canadian and all Canadian businesses are paying a price on carbon. The federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act means provinces that do not have their own price on pollution that meets a federal standard get the federal carbon tax applied to them. That includes Manitoba, whose premier talked Monday about the prospect of replacing the federal charge with a home-grown version. The federal tax is currently $20 a tonne and will rise $10 a year, on April 1 of each year until it hits $50 a tonne in 2022.
For individuals and businesses with relatively small emissions, that carbon levy is applied to liquid and gaseous fuels at the point of purchase. Households receive rebates on their income taxes to offset the cost of the carbon tax. The amount varies by province to account for different uses of fossil fuels.

Can a Tax Cut Be a Bad Thing?

by Catherine Swift

During last year’s federal election, the Liberals promised a tax cut for the middle class in the form of an increase in the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) – the amount of income that is exempt from personal income taxes. They committed to raising the BPA to $15,000 gradually over the next four years from $12,069 in the 2019 tax year. In dollar terms, this much-vaunted tax cut is pretty miniscule – less than $50 monthly once fully implemented in 2023 – and won’t make a real difference for most Canadians. Those who earn income in the $150,000 range will not be eligible for this bonanza. The impact of this change will mean more Canadians not paying any income tax. There are many other taxes as well – payroll taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, carbon taxes, health taxes etc – but they are often offset by government rebates, tax credits and other measures. Although estimates vary somewhat, it seems that about 40 per cent of Canadians don’t pay any taxes at all, which is not out of whack with comparable data in the US and other developed countries.

Brock expands business program to U.K.

by The Niagara Independent

Brock University Business students now have the opportunity to study and work in the United Kingdom thanks to a new partnership with Lancaster University.
The agreement allows students from the Goodman School of Business to study at the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) as part of Goodman’s Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op International Double Degree program.

Supreme Court Dismisses B.C.’s appeal of Trans Mountain Legislation

by Canadian Press

The Supreme Court of Canada shut down British Columbia’s move to regulate what can flow through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta.
B.C. was appealing to the country’s highest court after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled last May that the province couldn’t impose any restrictions on the contents on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Clean as a whistle?

by Sheryl Johnson

In Canada, federally regulated public sector employees are protected from reprisals from their employers under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act when they make in good faith disclosures of internal incidents or practices to their supervisors, or others “further up the ladder”, even if they do not make a corresponding disclosure to law enforcement officials.

“Showrooming” and its impact on locally owned retailers

by Kevin Vallier

The negative impact of the massive popularity of online shopping on the bricks and mortar retailers is well known and been a topic of conversation for a few years now. But the local impact, particularly on family owned businesses in Niagara runs deeper than just their bottom lines.
The trend and its negative effect on communities of “showrooming” or “showroom shopping” was recently pointed out in a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) report. The term refers to shoppers going into local retailers, having staff provide them with product information and suggestions or try on clothing items and then the customer leaves without making a purchase, goes home and orders the product online.

Province gives tax break to small businesses

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s small business owners received some welcomed news from the province to start their new year as the Ford government will be cutting their tax rate 8.7 per cent reducing the rate to 3.2 per cent. The change came into effect on January 1. The reduction, said the government, is part of its plan to attract investment and enable entrepreneurs and risk takers to grow their businesses and create high-paying, good quality jobs.
“Ontario has tremendous opportunity and potential, and we are working to create the conditions for job creators to grow and succeed. An important part of our plan is to reduce the tax rate for small businesses, as they play a vital role in the economy,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance in a media release.

Liberals face climate vs economy challenges early in 2020

by Mia Rabson (Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads into 2020 promising to chart a path to Canada’s most ambitious greenhouse-gas emissions target yet: getting to a point within 30 years where Canada is adding no emissions that will stay in the atmosphere.

Right-sized regulations needed for smaller financial institutions

by Kelly Harris

Simply because something works in other jurisdictions or other countries doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for Ontario. And in many cases the same can be said for whether it is right for Canada.
Nowhere have we seen foreign pressure to act on perceived “issues” greater than in Canada’s – and Ontario’s – housing market and banking supervision. Much of the pressure came from the subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S. and, I believe, runaway imagination stemming from people taking the movie The Big Short as fact and not simply a Hollywood movie based on real events.

Master and Servant

by Sheryl Johnson

Master and Servant In making this award, the Court considered many of the recent wrongful dismissal Ontario Court of Appeal decisions, including the previously discussed decision in Dawe v. The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, 2019 ONCA 512 (CanLII), which re-established that absent “exceptional circumstances” there is generally a 24-month cap on reasonable notice periods.

Gift to College’s School of Business will help with business productivity innovation

by The Niagara Independent

Christmas came early to Niagara College’s School of Business as a gift from RBC Foundation will enhance opportunities for students while helping small- and medium-sized enterprises increase productivity.
RBC Foundation announced earlier this week a $150,000 – pledged over a three-year period – to support NC’s Productivity Innovation Lab (PiLab). The gift was funded through RBC’s Future Launch, a 10-year $500-million commitment to help Canadian youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

Support from Indigenous groups gets Trans Mountain pipeline back on track

by Gregory John

With shovels finally in the ground on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Western Canada is collectively holding its breath. We’ve been here before, so many are asking: why is this time different from the last, and what has happened since the first-time construction got underway?
The answer is unprecedented Indigenous support and participation.

Is Canada veering toward a recession?

by Theophilos Argitis

Canadians are nervous the nation’s economy is veering toward a recession next year.
In a survey for Bloomberg News by Nanos Research Group, 56% of Canadians said there’s at least a “somewhat likely” chance a recession will hit in 2020 — a sentiment broadly held across regions, gender and age. Only 34% said a recession is unlikely, with 10% unsure.

Don’t be Blind-Sided by Being “Old School” in Your Workplace

by Sheryl Johnson

Being brash, outspoken, opinionated and never afraid to offend is an outmoded communication style when it is not balanced by, and compliant with codes of conduct, anti-violence, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies or parties’ legal obligations.
In the professional sports context, the fact that the employees or volunteers are providing the service of “entertainment” or “coaching” in a public facility such as a sports arena or stadium does not permanently place them in the pocket; they will be required to fully defend their comments and actions or be at risk of getting sacked.

Is your business accessible?

by Sheryl Johnson

All Ontario employers by now should be well aware of and familiar with The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and its regulations (the “AODA”) as many of its requirements, or standards, should already be in place in your workplaces.
The AODA’s purpose is to “develop, implement, and enforce standards for accessibility” related to employment (as well as goods, services, facilities, accommodation, and buildings) by 2025.

Layoffs Loom as Canadian Rail Strike Hits Chemicals, Farmers

by Sandrine Rastello (Bloomberg)

Workers are receiving lay-off notices and chemical companies face shutdowns as the effects of Canada’s largest rail strike in a decade ripples through the economy.
The strike by about 3,200 conductors and railyard operators at Canadian National Railway Co. is entering its seventh day on Monday, disrupting cargoes of everything from wheat to propane.

Wooing Back Big Business Is Job One for Trudeau’s Finance Chief

by Theophilos Argitis

In the corridors of corporate Canada, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tends to inspire equal measures of grievance and hope.To some, the former Bay Street executive hasn’t sufficiently defended the interests of business at a cabinet table that may be the most left-leaning and activist in a generation under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. To others, his status as an outsider is what makes him so valuable — a pro-business bulwark in a government that’s often more interested in tackling social issues and climate change.

Should all employees have written employment contracts?

by Sheryl Johnson

Yes! Certainty in the terms and conditions of an employee’s employment contract is an excellent way to avoid potential conflict and reduce potential liability and “costs” (i.e., lost opportunity costs; reduced productivity from decreased morale; increased absenteeism, turnover, recruitment and training costs; and litigation costs) now for the future. Consider it everyone’s playbook should conflict arise or the employment relationship breaks down.

The Risk of Shared Equity

by Kelly Harris

An Abacus Data poll this past summer ranked “Housing Affordability” as the fifth most important issue for Canadians heading into the Oct. 21 federal vote. The issue of housing affordability was only three per cent less important to those polled as “Climate Change.”

Still, I don’t remember any marches or rallies on home buying during the election. Perhaps that is why the policies the parties presented for those issues left so many Canadians wanting.

One Size Does Not Fit All

by Sheryl Johnson

On Oct. 23, 2019, Ontario’s Ministry of Attorney General announced significant changes to its “alternative” litigation procedures in order to make civil litigation more affordable and thus accessible by reducing costs and delays as well as increasing the efficient use of the parties’ and the court’s resources and time. The changes will be in effect as of Jan. 1, 2020 and should decrease the number of actions brought under the ordinary litigation procedure before our Divisional Court. Depending on the dollar value of a claim, some litigants will have the option to elect between these two alternative court procedures, which are not mutually exclusive.

Walker Industries appoints new president and CEO

by The Niagara Independent

A fifth generation member of the Walker family has been appointed to take over the helm of Walker Industries, a company that has operated in the Niagara region for more than 130 years.
Walker’s board of directors has named Geordie Walker as President and CEO of the Niagara-based company, effective immediately. He takes over the position from John Fisher, who will remain with the firm through the end of 2019 to provide support and continuity. The leadership transition comes as a result of Mr. Fisher’s long-planned retirement.

Our national security is at stake: Canada’s national shipbuilding strategy

by Shaun Padulo

Our national security is at stake.

The Government of Canada is in the process of seeking a qualifying shipyard to become the third shipyard in the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). The NSS is a massive procurement program designed to rebuild the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard. The NSS is projected to be over $100-billion – the largest single taxpayer expense in our country’s history. The shipyard that succeeds in qualifying to become the third yard will have the opportunity to bid on the construction of six icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard, a project estimated to be billions of dollars.
Concerned that the qualification process was flawed and that certain requirements seemed to be established to intentionally disqualify Heddle Shipyards from becoming the third yard, our company submitted a complaint to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT). Upon receiving the complaint, the Government “corrected” the “inconsistencies” but we remain concerned that their original intent has not changed. Despite the corrections, we requested that the CITT pursue its investigation so that it could form an objective opinion on the fairness of the process. On August 30th, the Tribunal agreed to conduct an inquiry.

Good politics, bad policy: Why deficits matter and why young Canadians should care

by Trevin Stratton PhD

Politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose and this past election season is no different. The campaigning period produced billions of dollars in spending commitments, numerous proposed new benefits, and targeted boutique tax credits. Some of these announcements have been properly costed. Other proposals included somewhat questionable numbers or none at all. As voters, we don’t know how these fiscal plans will pan out.
Federal politicians can be forgiven for giving short shrift to fiscal issues. A recent Ipsos poll shows that only 12% of Canadians identify government deficits/debt as a top ballot-box issue, compared to health care (35%), affordability and cost of living (27%), and climate change (25%).

Welland Canal was a game changer

by Kevin Vallier

The South Niagara Chambers of Commerce is hosting their second annual Game Changers event and there’s no question this year’s topic truly was a game changer for Niagara – the Welland Canal.
A panel of experts will discuss the history and economic impact of the canal as well as its future on Oct. 29 at Taris on the Water in Welland. Known as an engineering marvel construction on the first canal, which began at Port Dalhousie and ran along the Twelve Mile Creek to Port Robinson, started in November of 1824.

The Tale of Two Employment Contracts

by Sheryl Johnson

With Thanksgiving behind us, we are turning our minds to the Christmas holidays and closing out the 2019 calendar year. As an employer, do you provide holiday or annual bonuses? If yes – the Ontario Court of Appeal released a further decision to its decision in Manastersky v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2019 ONCA 609 that I discussed in an earlier article. The most recent OCA decision on bonuses is Andros v. Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc., 2019 ONCA 679.
Where the Manastersky decision taught us that a well-crafted bonus plan can insulate an employer from liability in respect of bonus plan payout to former employees, the Andros decision underscores what happens when your employment contracts are not well-crafted.

The rise of Chateau des Charmes

by Kevin Vallier

Paul Bosc Sr. arrived in Canada from France in the early 1960s. He settled in Montreal and took a job with the liquor board. A fifth-generation French winegrower, Bosc knew a thing or two about wines and it quickly became apparent that Canada did not produce good wine. “Canada didn’t really have professional winemakers,” said Bosc. Not even 30 years old at the time, Bosc was often giving advice on winemaking. “I was lucky they had problems because I could fix them. They thought I was a genius, I wasn’t,” he said with a laugh.

Chamber announces expansion of Trade Accelerator Program to Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) recently announced the launch of the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) in Niagara. Winner of the 2018 Ontario Export Award for Export Excellence, TAP will debut locally on November 18th with an intensive two-day workshop to orient participating companies to the program.
Operated in partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s World Trade Centre Toronto, TAP is an innovative, dynamic workshop that provides companies with access to Canada’s top exporting advisors, resources and contacts, giving them the training and support they need to scale up, develop and execute an export plan.

What’s in a Resume?

by Sheryl Johnson

The contents of a job applicant’s resume are – and should always be – the starting point in your company’s recruitment process.
Few applicants know or care that lying on a resume constitutes cause for the termination of their employment when it is discovered if it means they get the job. The “cause” arises from the fact that all employment relationships are built on trust. If employment is offered based on employee misrepresentations, the trust necessary for continued employment is breached and a serious character flaw is revealed that also undermines the necessary bonds of trust.

On corporate welfare, Scheer breaks from the pack

by Aaron Wudrick

Last week, before any Canadian was debating dubious prime ministerial dress-up hobbies, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s came out with a pledge to eliminate $1.5 billion in federal corporate welfare spending.
It’s only scratching the surface of the issue, since by some estimates total annual federal subsidies to business are in the range of $14 billion. But $1.5 billion is also nothing to sneeze at – it’s the equivalent to the tax bills of 100,000 average-income Canadian households put together.

Chambers host binational business mixer

by Kevin Vallier

Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities was in Niagara this week holding a roundtable with local business owners. The Minister then attended the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce annual Niagara Networks Showcase. Minister Romano met with a select group of Niagara business owners to talk specifically about the labour shortage that Niagara businesses continue to wrestle with.
South Niagara Chamber CEO Dolores Fabiano said members and Chamber staff have been working on the issue for the better part of a year. “We’ve been working with the other Niagara Chambers and we’ve come up with some action items that we think will help and so we wanted to meet face-to-face with the Minister to share our thoughts and get his feedback.”

What’s in a Bonus?

by Sheryl Johnson

In the employment context bonuses can either be discretionary or non-discretionary.
A discretionary bonus is completely unexpected. Unexpected as to timing, dollar value and kind of performance needed to receive one. They have no established formula, are not part of an employee’s contract, there is no expectation to receive one regularly and as such it does not constitute either a meaningful or expected part of an employee’s total compensation package.

Niagara tech company nationally recognized

by Kevin Vallier

A couple of weeks ago Caddle CEO and Niagara native Ransom Hawley received an email with some exciting news but he wasn’t allowed to share it until yesterday. Hawley was informed that his four-year old tech start-up was named by Canadian Business and Maclean’s to the 2019 Startup 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies. Caddle was ranked 35th.
Caddle is like a 21st century focus group. It’s an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone. Essentially there are users on one side and brands on the other. The users take a few moments to watch a brand’s video, take a short survey or watch an ad. In return the user gets cash back and the brand gets critical market intelligence. “Almost everyone has a smartphone so it is a much faster and less expensive way for brands to collect market research data,” said Hawley.

The problem of “Dark Money”

by Stewart Muir

Eyebrows were raised this week when an American group gave $2 million US plus unspecified “expert resources” to Tzeporah Berman, the Vancouver-based campaigner who has made a lucrative career out of working with her U.S.-based advisors to kneecap the Canadian resource economy.
Berman’s latest assignment, according to the American group channeling the money to Berman, is to “engineer a large reduction in new oil and gas development that will ensure huge amounts of carbon stay un-combusted and out of the atmosphere.” In reality, the best Berman can hope for is to harm the prospects of Canada. Few other countries in the world are as willing as we are to host foreign incursions that mischaracterize the nature of energy development.

Swapping cement for hemp in construction industry

by Jeremy Hodges and Kevin Orland

The hemp fields sprouting in a part of Canada best known for its giant oil patch show how climate change is disrupting the construction industry.
Six years after setting up shop in the shadow of Calgary’s tar sands, Mac Radford, 64, says he can’t satisfy all the orders from builders for Earth-friendly materials that help them limit their carbon footprints. His company, JustBioFiber Structural Solutions, is on the vanguard of businesses using hemp — the boring cousin of marijuana devoid of psychoactive content — to mitigate the greenhouse gases behind global warming.

Kemps earn success on and off the court

by Kevin Vallier

From the locker room to the board room, Jessica Kemp and her younger brother Michael have had a tremendous amount of success. The siblings are extraordinary athletes, both attended U.S. colleges on athletic scholarships, Jessica for basketball and Michael for baseball (he would eventually transfer to Brock and play basketball for the Badgers). Both have followed in their parent’s footsteps off the court running a highly successful financial planning firm that bears the family name – Kemp Financial.
Jessica Kemp played basketball locally at A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls before heading across the river to continue her hoops on the hardwood at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She had a stellar career playing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) as a Purple Eagle. She excelled on the court and in the classroom earning an MBA along with her impressive on-court statistics. In fact, in recognition of her academic and athletic success at Niagara University her name will be added to the MAAC Honor Roll at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on Sept. 14.

Is federal carbon tax killing jobs? Experts say answer isn’t ‘black and white’

by Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan government says the federal carbon tax is killing jobs, but experts and even the province’s trade minister say it’s not that easy to calculate.
The government reports that jobs are down in the oil and gas sector by about 1,400 and by another 1,500 in mining compared with July 2018.
The province brought in its own tax on excess emissions from heavy industry in January, but consumers became subject to the federal carbon tax in April, because Saskatchewan did not have its own pricing deemed acceptable by Ottawa. The province is taking its challenge of the federal tax to the Supreme Court.

The $30 Billion Exodus: Foreign Oil Firms Are Bailing on Canada

by Kevin Orland

Capital keeps marching out of Canada’s oil industry, with Kinder Morgan Inc.’s sale of its remaining holdings in the country on Wednesday adding to more than $30 billion of foreign-company divestitures in the past three years. Pembina Pipeline Corp., based in Calgary, is snapping up Kinder’s Canadian assets and a cross-border pipeline in a $3.3 billion deal. For Houston-based Kinder, the deal completes an exit from a country that has frustrated more than a few companies — from ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Marathon Oil Corp.

The Enemy Within

by Sheryl Johnson

Employees may have access to information that is confidential or personal about policies, decisions or other persons in or connected to their workplaces that are not intended for public consumption.
In light of this access, proactive employers have confidentiality and other nondisclosure covenants in their employment contracts. But what if an employee breaches such a covenant and goes to the media or vents their employment frustrations on social media resulting in defamatory conduct against the employer, its employees or its customers?

Economics News Worsens

by Catherine Swift

While many Canadians are focused on the continuing amateur hour going on in Ottawa, where Justin Trudeau was just found yet again in violation of ethics laws, the economic news is getting decidedly grim. And although Trudeau seems to feel he is not bound by the same laws that apply to the rest of us mere mortals, there are few if any politicians that don’t find themselves ultimately beholden to the immutable laws of economics. Trudeau is no exception, and more’s the pity for Canada.
Many economic indicators have turned south in recent months, with a loss of 25,000 jobs in Canada in July. This was the second consecutive month of job loss. We have also experienced a weakening Canadian dollar, turmoil in stock and bond markets, and slowing growth in key powerhouse economies around the world such as Germany and China. Add the US-China trade war into the mix and all of the uncertainty for businesses and investment that creates, and we have a perfect storm of economic bad news. Recessions tend to come around every decade or so, and as the last recession took place in 2008, the global economy is ripe for a downturn.

All in the family

by Kevin Vallier

It was March 10, 1968. That’s when the Nitsopolous family moved to Toronto where they would begin a new life in Canada and a journey that would eventually take them to St. Catharines where they would become one of the most successful business families in the city’s history.
“In our third year in Toronto we bought a house and in our fourth year we bought a business,” explained Angelo Nitsopolous the third oldest of the five brothers that include from oldest to youngest; Chris, John, Jimmy and Peter. The business, as Angelo describes it, was a chicken burger joint. It would be a sign of things to come as the brothers would soon launch themselves into the restaurant and hotel industry in a city located down the QEW. It was a good start considering their father arrived with just $300 in his pocket.

What is exceptional?

by Sheryl Johnson

While apparently not litigated in Dussault v. Imperial Oil Ltd., [2019] O.J. 2800, discussed in my last article, the Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) in Dawe v. The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, 2019 ONCA 512 (CanLII) has re-established that absent “exceptional circumstances” there is generally a 24-month cap on reasonable notice periods.
In doing so the OCA overturned and reduced the trial judge’s award of 30 months of reasonable notice to 24 for a 62-year old senior executive with 37 years of service, a person whom under the recent line of cases the trial judge noted would have been awarded 36 months if he asked for it. The court also reversed the recent line of cases that broke through the general 24-month cap that had been in place for decades – and which some touted as demonstrating that the law had evolved to eliminate this general cap.

Washuta never wasted an opportunity

by Kevin Vallier

What started out as a seasonal paving company has turned into one of the largest and most successful waste management companies in North America. Steve Washuta (who passed away in 2008) moved to Niagara from Saskatchewan in the middle of the twentieth century to join his family. There were four Washuta brothers in total (one of the brothers’ son Greg Washuta was a long-time St. Catharines city councillor) and Steve went to work for his older brothers at their sand and gravel operation. Then he rolled a company truck and his brothers promptly fired him.

What happens to employees when a company sells its business but neither party wants to fully take on all of the liabilities associated with the current employees?
This often happens in relation to the reasonable and statutory notice of employees “bag” without the parties truly knowing “who” should be left holding this bag. With long serving and higher-level employees, this bag can be quite hefty.

When “Bob’s your Uncle” isn’t a good thing!

by Sheryl Johnson

As we are aware, family owned and operated businesses involve two or more family members having the majority of ownership and control over a business. Such business likely are the oldest form of business and sources of workplace conflict given the intertwining of work lives, personal lives and family dynamics.

A successful hire wire act

by Kevin Vallier

“You’re faced with two paths in life. One is nicely manicured with nice grass and flowers and easy to travel. The other is rocky, covered in broken branches and pot holes and takes a lot more work to walk down. If you take the easy path early on in life then you have to navigate the difficult path later on when you’re older, weaker and have less money. If you take the more challenging route in your younger years then you usually end up walking down a much more pleasant path in your later years.”
That’s the philosophy that Niagara businessman Larry Vaughan shares with his kids, his young employees and something he eventually figured out at a young age himself. My father told me, “What you learn once you get out of school, that’s most important,” said Vaughan. “My first day working for him, I brought my college diplomas and asked him where I should hang them.” His dad was quick to reply, “in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.”

CannTrust’s stock plummets, CEO’s future uncertain

by John Chick

It appears clear that CannTrust’s by now widely reported non-compliance violations with Health Canada are the result of a whistle-blowing former employee.
While Health Canada wouldn’t confirm this, a surprise inspection by federal regulators on June 17 uncovered 5,200 kilograms of unlicensed cannabis at CannTrust’s Fenwick facility.

Birds of a Featherstone

by Kevin Vallier

How do you go from owning a specialty food store in Guelph to owning one of the most successful craft wineries in the province? It’s not as much of a stretch as you might think. But like any successful business story the road is paved with hard work, a bit of luck and good timing. Such is the case for Louise Engel and David Johnson co-owners of Featherstone Winery located in Vineland.
At the age of 21 Louise and husband David started a specialty food store in the 1980s. At that time red meat was taboo. So the young couple specialized in selling poultry. “If it had feathers, we sold it,” said Engel. They both grew up on farms and David’s education is in agriculture. Engel’s is in business. “The more we got interested in food the more we got interested in wine.”

Drawing the Line on Cannabis Use in Ontario Construction Workplaces

by Sheryl Johnson

In my article concerning clearing the air on cannabis use in the workplace I outlined in general terms the limits on employers’ duty to accommodate employees’ medical use of cannabis relative to the workplace as being the duty to accommodate “to the point of undue hardship”. This duty is established by the Human Rights Code under the protected ground of disability.
What does this duty of accommodation entail? How do employers establish where the planes of “accommodation” and “the point of undue hardship” intersect? Further, how does this duty intersect with Ontario employers’ general duty to provide to each of their employees a safe work environment free from all recognized hazards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

Mr. D – From sandwiches to skyscrapers

by The Niagara Independent

He’s known affectionately by his staff as Mr. D.
Vincenzo DiCosimo arrived in Canada on July 12, 1955 to join his older brother who was already in Niagara Falls. He was just 19 years-old, had no money and didn’t speak a word of English. “I thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made. I wanted to go back right away.” History would show that it’s a good thing he stayed.

How taxation can fuel Canada’s intangibles economy

by Trevin Stratton PhD

A recent report by the Public Policy Forum finds that intangible assets like technology, intellectual property, branding, and design comprise 91% of the S&P 500’s total value.
Canadian businesses, from large tech firms to family farms, are adapting their business models to the drivers of long-term success in this increasingly intangible economy.

The making of a business leader

by Kevin Vallier

Starting next week The Niagara Independent will be running a new series taking an in-depth look at Niagara’s most successful business leaders. In one-on-one interviews with the most successful entrepreneurs in the region we will go back in time and explore their stories from the very beginnings and map out their journey to success.

While Niagara may not be home to the global headquarters of Fortune 500 companies it is home to some of the most fascinating and inspiring business success stories in the country. Stories about people taking massive risks, working extremely hard, catching a few breaks and in the end providing good paying jobs and benefits to thousands of Niagara residents. They also contribute millions to local charities.

Inside the True North conference

by Craig Haney

Kitchener Waterloo is known as the hub of innovation in Canada. Recently the region held their renowned True North conference. This year’s theme, “Bridges, not Walls” brought together 2,800 people from across Canada, and around the world, to hear some of the brightest and most interesting minds in business, technology, journalism, and the public sector provide stories and examples of both bridges and walls.

As someone who has attended both True North events, and many of the Tech Leadership Conferences (which predated True North), I thought I would share some of my experiences and lessons from this tremendously important conference.

Hamilton economy continues to grow with planned L3 HQ

by The Niagara Independent

L3 WESCAM announced this week at an official groundbreaking ceremony the construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art headquarters facility, which will include 330,000 square feet of research and development, engineering, assembly and office space in Hamilton. By the expected move-in date in 2021, the new facility will be home to 1,200 employees.
“We are pleased to announce that L3 will continue to be a part of this region’s economic renaissance and has selected a location that embodies our mission to be the very best of the best in our industry,” said Jacques Comtois, Vice President and General Manager of L3 WESCAM. “Hamilton has a rich business legacy of transforming ideas into high-technology products and offers a skilled talent base with a deep knowledge of advanced manufacturing and applied research. We are thrilled to establish our new operations in Hamilton and continue moving forward with our growth plans.”

In Ontario employers who either fail to take allegations of violence and harassment seriously or deal with them in good faith, expose themselves to significant legal liability given their multifaceted obligations to employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), the Ontario Human Rights Code and the common law.
Essentially this means that employers who fail to adequately respond to, investigate, prevent or remedy harassment face increasing damage awards and statutory fines on top of exposure to negative PR and brand damage.

Trudeau approves pipeline

by Kevin Orland and Robert Tuttle

The oil pipeline that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved on Tuesday is slated to start shipping crude as early as 2022 and cost more than C$7.4 billion after legal delays hampered the construction process.
The Trans Mountain expansion, which would carry 590,000 more barrels of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to a port in Vancouver, was delayed for eight months as the federal government conducted additional environmental reviews and consultations with indigenous groups. That setback added more than a year to the project’s timeline as windows for sensitive steps such as work around fisheries were missed, Trans Mountain Chief Executive Officer Ian Anderson said on a conference call.“We all know that time is money and delays are going to push up costs,” Anderson said, without providing more specific estimates. The 2022 target assumes that “all goes well” on the regulatory and construction fronts and that work begins in September of this year, Anderson said.

Environment and business can make a great team

by Julie Kwiecinski

Last week, the federal government announced that it will “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted.” What’s missing from this announcement is a commitment to provide economic evidence of the impact of such a speedy ban on small businesses.

The plastics ban looks good on paper. Who wouldn’t support it in principle? But in practice, it will take much more than words to make it work. When Raptors’ basketball coach Nick Nurse draws up a play on his clipboard, every player is given a role, and getting everyone in on the action early is paramount.

As part of the team needed to put this policy in play effectively, small businesses have to be part of the discussion. Depending on their trade, business owners will be forced to change their product lines or find alternative products.

Business Watch

by Samuel Potter and Sid Verma (Bloomberg)

U.S. President Donald Trump decided not to impose a five per cent charge on all Mexican imports, accepting the country’s offer of tougher immigration enforcement. The breakthrough clears a path for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to move forward, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Sunday. Markets predictably welcomed the news and the peso had its biggest gain in almost a year. In the meantime, while the developments appear to remove one obstacle for Congress to approve the North American deal, the White House still has work to do to get it over the line.

Airbus Flying high in Fort Erie and around the world

by Kevin Vallier

Just a few months ago the first Airbus H145 helicopter to be delivered in Canada arrived at the RCMP’s base at Langley airport in Metro Vancouver. Why is that news in Niagara? Well because the state-of-the-art helicopter that allows the RCMP to support day and night operations over land and water, and conduct fast roping and hoisting, medical evacuations and search and rescue operations was manufactured, assembled and painted in Fort Erie.
While Airbus is a global company with offices in almost every country around the world most people in Niagara don’t realize that the Canadian headquarters is located in Fort Erie, employs nearly 300 people and is celebrating 35 years of operations.

Are Your Employment Policies Employment Standards Act Savvy?

by Sheryl Johnson

As of late, one of the most varied pieces of employment legislation in Ontario is the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”). Such ongoing changes have led to a lot of confusion for employers on what their legal obligations are and what their policies and practices should be. This is particularly the case in relation to “Personal Emergency Leave” (PEL) days and the fact that the 2019 amendments to the ESA have reduced rather than increased employee statutory entitlements.

South Niagara Chambers of Commerce Welcome CannTrust CEO, Peter Aceto

by The Niagara Independent

On June 4 at Cardinal Lakes Golf Course in Welland, the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce will be hosting a breakfast seminar featuring Peter Aceto, CEO of CannTrust, a federally licensed and regulated global cannabis market leader. For Aceto, a noted speaker, this will be his inaugural speaking engagement in Niagara.
CannTrust is a publicly traded company that operates its approximately 450,000 square foot Niagara Perpetual Harvest Facility in Pelham and has been approved to construct an additional 390,000 square feet. of cannabis cultivation space. The company has garnered success as the 2018 Licensed Producer of the Year. The award criteria include commitment to customer service, positive feedback from employees and high standards of production.

Small bets are important, but the big bet will win the future

by Craig Haney

In a previous series, I went through all the essential stages of Design Thinking. Through this important process, people and companies are able to gain important insights into what customer’s need and are looking for, most importantly, what they are willing to pay for. This stage of new product development is important. You are making small bets, with the hope that you will learn enough to make a big bet.

The big bet is a lot harder to make than the small bets. Let’s look at why.

Clearing the Air on Use of Marijuana in the Workplace

by Sheryl Johnson

Notwithstanding that recreational marijuana has been legal in Canada for seven months now and medical cannabis, alcohol and other intoxicants a lot longer, employers still have many fears and misconceptions about how its employees’ use of marijuana both at work and at home may negatively impact their workplaces. This article addresses many of these concerns so as to clear the air on employees use of marijuana as it relates to the workplace as an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.

Senate committee approves dozens of amendments to C-69

by The Canadian Press

A Senate committee has approved dozens of amendments — primarily aimed at mollifying the energy industry — to the Liberal government’s controversial environmental assessment legislation.
Bill C-69 is supposed to improve the way the environmental impact of major energy and transportation projects are evaluated, making the assessments more stringent so that they are less likely to fail court challenges.
But the oil industry, backed by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has launched ferocious opposition to the bill, which it claims will sow uncertainty and prevent major projects, such as pipelines, from ever getting built.

Onex makes bid to buy WestJet

by The Niagara Independent

Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction that’s being valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt.
Under the agreement announced this past Monday, Onex will pay $31 per share for WestJet, which will continue to operate as a privately held company.
Shares in the airline jumped from $18.52 last Friday to $30.03 after the announcement.

Niagara’s industry is ‘alive and well’

by Elena De Luigi

Niagara has experienced an industrial boom over the past few years, and the region has attracted approximately $500 million in investment in industrial building construction, according to statistics from Niagara Economic Development.

Blake Landry, Manager of Economic Research & Analysis at Niagara Economic Development, sent a statement to The Niagara Independent on the current climate of the region’s industry.

In an email, Landry said that there are 16,500 direct jobs in manufacturing and that it supports an additional 50,000 jobs in other industries.

Finance Minister speaks to South Niagara business leaders

by Kevin Vallier

It was a packed house at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse last night as many of Niagara’s business leaders and elected officials were on hand to hear provincial Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli discuss the province’s recent budget.

The event, organized by the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce, was, not surprisingly, very well attended as it’s not often business owners get to hear directly from the person in charge of the province’s finances.

Can we predict the future?

by Craig Haney

It is what people have been trying to do for as long as humans have existed. Trying to figure out what’s next. As hunters and gatherers, we tried to predict where herds will migrate to, what the weather will be, or where the next dangerous animal will attack from. Eventually we figured out ways to store our food so we didn’t have to rely as much on predicting the future.

As farmers, we predicted weather, seasons, and pests but we tried to find ways to store and process the foods we grew. We tried to use systems and technology so we wouldn’t have to predict the future as much. With the industrial age it allowed us even more freedom to not have to predict the future. We could produce thousands of widgets and wait for customers to come. As long as we continually produced them cheaper, more efficiently, and with minor improvements, the customers kept coming and the business kept growing. With the fourth industrial revolution upon us, the connected age, our world, our customers, and our markets are changing so fast we are back to having to try to predict the future again.

Gretzky adds beer to wine and whisky products

by The Niagara Independent

Wayne Gretzky Estates announced the launch of No. 99 Rye Lager, its first craft beer. The brew will be for sale across Ontario beginning this month at LCBO stores, Wayne Gretzky Estates, as well as select Ontario restaurants. The lager will be available more broadly across Ontario this fall.
“Our goal at the outset was to give hockey fans and beer fans something new to cheer about,” said John Peller. “As the name promises, No. 99 Rye Lager, brewed with rye grain delivers the crisp, clean taste of a classic lager with an extra layer of depth, zest and freshness. There’s nothing like it on the market.”
“It feels awesome to be back in the craft beer business” said Peller. Although the Peller family may be most known for their Canadian wines, Company founder Andrew Peller got his start in the beer industry. “My grandpa started his career in the 1930’s as a brewmaster at E.P. Taylor Canadian brewing, which led him to open his own brewery, Peller Brewing Company in 1947, in Hamilton, Ontario,” Peller explained.

Toyota plans to produce luxury SUV in Ontario

by The Niagara Independent

It was a good news announcement for Ontario’s auto sector yesterday. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) announced they will begin producing their luxury SUV at its Cambridge plant moving production from Japan to Ontario. The plant will supply all of the North American market.
“Building on our recent Toyota RAV4 announcement and our recent facility modernization investments, we are excited to announce that TMMC has been selected to produce the popular Lexus NX and Lexus NX Hybrid models for the entire North American market,” TMMC President Fred Volf told Team Members and dignitaries.

Ford Motor to put $500 million into electric vehicle startup Rivian

by Supantha Mukherjee and Joe White

Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will invest $500 million in U.S. electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive LLC, joining Inc in backing the potential rival to Silicon Valley’s Tesla Inc.
Ford said it will use Rivian’s “skateboard” – a chassis that bundles electric motor, batteries and controls – to build a new vehicle for North America. It did not provide details on what type of vehicle, and where or when it would be built.
Michigan-based Rivian, founded in 2009, has raised more than $1.5 billion from investors. A company spokesman declined to provide a valuation for the company, but investor website estimates Rivian’s value at $5 billion to $7 billion.

Random drug testing in the workplace

by Nicholas Tibollo

Do you agree with the following statement?

For workers in high-risk roles, employers should be permitted by law to conduct random drug testing in order to confirm sobriety and ensure the present and future safety of the workplace.

If you answered “yes”, you’re in the majority.

According to a recent corporate study, 4 in 5 Ontarians believe that employers should be granted protection under law to randomly test workers in safety-sensitive positions; such as, for example, crane operators or airline pilots.

World business this week

by Lorcan Roche Kelly (Bloomberg)

Oh Canada
Canada’s main stock index traded at an all-time high yesterday.
At 9:43 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index edged up to 16,587.12 points.
Its previous intra-day record was 16,586.46, which it hit on July 13, 2018. The TSX also surpassed its closing record of 16,567.42 on Thursday.

Divergent vs Convergent Mindsets

by Craig Haney

In the 1960’s J.P. Guilfold published a number of research papers on the concept of Divergent and Convergent thinking. He was able to clearly articulate the differences between convergent thinking and divergent thinking. This can relate to innovation and why existing companies and managers often have a difficult time connecting new innovations to successful business objectives.

A convergent mindset is represented, simply stated, in a person who is able to take a number of options and distill it into one right answer. In many cases, this is a very valuable approach. Do you want an engineer to not be focused on the best answer when she is designing a bridge? Companies want the engineer that can make the best choice, with all the information in front of her, do the math and come up with the right answer.

World Business this Week

by Lorcan Roche Kelly (Bloomberg)

Brexit extension
The EU has granted the U.K. more time to find a way of leaving the bloc, with the deadline moved to Oct. 31. While the can-kicking is better than a disorderly Brexit in the short term, it does nothing to resolve the uncertainty over what Brexit will look like. The delay also means that Prime Minister Theresa May’s position will come under further pressure as members of her party will see the risk of no Brexit at all increasing. U.K. markets and the pound did not react much to the news.
Oil warning
Much of the 42 percent surge in crude this year has been driven by supply concerns, with OPEC’s production cuts, Iran sanctions and fighting in Libya all clouding the outlook for production. Earlier this week the International Energy Agency warned in its monthly report that falling demand could become a bigger issue for the rest of the year, saying the “risks to demand are to the downside” as it sees threats to global growth.

Bank CEOs Fear Tarnished `Brand Canada’ in Competitiveness Slide

by Doug Alexander

‘Brand Canada’ is taking a beating, according to the heads of the nation’s two biggest banks.
Toronto-Dominion Bank Chief Executive Officer Bharat Masrani and Royal Bank of Canada CEO David McKay flagged Canadian weaknesses during their respective annual investors meetings — including competitiveness, stalled infrastructure, lack of housing supply, trade barriers and red tape. While Canada also has strengths — Masrani cited innovation and technology — the bank heads said there are clearly problems to fix.

Four decades of building Niagara

by Scott Leslie

Mark Basciano has seen a lot of changes in the construction industry over the past 40 years. But there’s been one constant in his life.

He’s seen the Mountainview Group – the family-owned building company – grow from a modest homebuilder into a multi-faceted firm producing everything from condominiums and low-rise family homes to commercial spaces, retirement and nursing homes to tenant improvements, and hospitality projects and renovations.

“We’re proud to be celebrating our fourth decade in business,” says the president of the Mountainview Group. “But we’re still guided by the same philosophies we always have. We strive to make a difference in our community and deliver superior customer service.”

Getting caught in an avalanche

by Craig Haney

Considering the snow that most of Ontario got over the weekend, this week’s article had to be renamed. The content is the same, but now you get a snow-related title. You’re welcome.

Diane Vaughan is a professor of Sociology at Columbia University. She is most famous for her work on explaining how the ‘normalization of deviance’ created the situation where standards were reduced over time because of the absence of a negative event. This means that inspectors, engineers, scientists, etc saw the absence of a negative event as confirmation that their expansion of parameters were within the limits of acceptable risk…until it wasn’t. That’s the problem with catastrophic instances…they happen with no warning, yet the organization has been pushing the limits of acceptable risks, until it’s too late.

Grimsby company acquired by Horizon North

by The Niagara Independent

Horizon North Logistics Inc. (TSX: HNL.TO) recently announced that they have entered into a binding purchase and sale agreement with respect to the acquisition of NRB Inc. (Canada), a full-service modular construction provider based in Grimsby.
Horizon North has agreed to purchase all of the outstanding shares of NRB Canada for $16.5 million, payable in a mix of common shares of Horizon North and cash. The Binding Purchase Agreement is subject to certain conditions, including the receipt of all necessary and required consents, including those from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The transaction is scheduled to close in early April 2019.

Don’t confuse good outcomes with a good decision-making process

by Craig Haney

Sometimes good companies will do a post-mortem of a product launch or innovation project, and they will take a look at the feedback they are getting from customers, find out where the negative feedback is and fix it. Seems like a natural and smart thing to do. It is. But for those companies that want to build a system for innovation, not just a series of projects, they need to take it up a few notches. Companies need to build a system-thinking approach to innovation.

So often organizations get focused on simple measurements of success. Not necessarily because they are good ones that measure the actual success, but because they are easy to measure. The most adaptable organizations are the ones that look at the system behind the outcomes, and measure impactful, and difficult to find, metrics that look at the system as a whole, not just one phase. How can companies build this thinking into an organization’s culture and management process? Here’s an example and how it can apply to any business.

Wineries press for more retail options

by Kevin Vallier

With the current provincial government set to make significant changes on how alcohol is sold in Ontario, The Niagara Independent is examining the challenges and opportunities facing Ontario’s wine industry and what type of impact the potential changes could have on this province’s wine makers.
Ontario’s craft wineries are excited about the province’s promise to expand retail options for wine sales in Ontario. It seems like a natural win-win but depending on how the proposed expansion ends up being structured it could be boon or bust for Ontario’s small and medium sized wineries. For decades now the craft wineries in Niagara and across the province have advocated to expand wine retailing to privately owned and operated businesses.

Stop focusing on the outcome

by Craig Haney

In innovation circles, success is usually measured in home runs.  How many new products make it to the store shelves?  How many millions of dollars did these new products generate?  Sometimes, innovation teams have great stories to share, and sometimes they don’t.  Does that mean that the teams that don’t have those successes aren’t doing […]

Taxing times for Ontario’s wine industry

by Kevin Vallier

They don’t want special treatment. They just want fair treatment.

That’s the message the Ontario Craft Wineries are hammering home to the Ford government as the province explores ways to expand the sale of alcohol across Ontario. Yes, the association that represents small and medium sized VQA wineries throughout the province have ideas and recommendations about alcohol sale expansion but the more pressing concern is the archaic tax system under which they are forced to operate. It’s a system that when explained to people outside of the industry it usually elicits a jaw dropping, eyes widening response of, “that’s ridiculous!”

Essentially there are two different models of taxation that Ontario wineries face; one for when they sell product into the U.S. market and one for Ontario sales. The U.S. system is a three-tier distribution system where Ontario wineries must use a U.S. importer at which point they face a 35% markup (tax), then the product goes through a U.S. distributor where the wine faces another 35% markup and finally it ends up in a retail space where it gets slapped with another 35% tax for a total of a 100% markup.

When the leader has to get outside the building

by Craig Haney

I recently ran a workshop with a local small business. They were looking for ways to identify significant friction points in their customer journey. At what points did the customer feel extreme frustration and where in the journey did the company deliver on delightful experiences.

The future of Ontario’s wine industry

by Kevin Vallier

The future of Ontario’s wine industry is at a crossroads. Changes are coming and depending on what those changes are, small and medium sized wineries in Ontario (the vast majority of which are in Niagara) could either flourish or potentially flounder.
The Niagara Independent will examine what’s at stake for the province’s wine industry over a series of articles that will examine the current tax structure on wine, location of product sales, the importing of foreign wines and comparing the regulatory burden on the wine industry versus the cannabis industry.
In the Niagara peninsula alone, the wine industry has a nearly $4 billion economic impact according to the latest studies. There are nearly 100 wineries just in Niagara and the number of wine related tourists that visit Niagara is over two million a year. Province-wide the wine industry is responsible for about 18,000 jobs totalling $870 million in wages. It’s big business.

Who leads innovation?

by Craig Haney

Who leads innovation? This is a question that is asked on a regular basis. Who should lead the efforts on innovation, new product development, cultural changes, etc? There are many good choices, and a few bad ones, and none of them require a certain position. But there a few requirements that will help an innovation leader succeed.

The recent Deloitte study focused on innovation pointed out that few Canadian companies were prepared for future disruption. In fact, 35% of Canadian companies self-reported they were totally unprepared for a future disruption, and a further 29% have no plan and are tentative about what to do next. This is significant as almost every industry is going through some level of disruption, and most of these are driven by technology. Others might argue there are other causes, but most of these are rooted in significant technological advances which ultimately drive new consumer behaviours, cost reductions, globalization, etc.

Energy Crisis Myths

by Chad Ford

The Canadian energy sector is under attack like never before and it is threatening the unity of Canada. The one positive from this situation is that the challenges faced by the energy sector are almost exclusively politically imposed. There are no outside market forces causing the pain in Western Canada. In fact, with the exception of jurisdictions which also suffer from terrible government decisions such as Venezuela, other oil and gas jurisdictions such as the US are booming. This is good news because it means it is within the power of our governments to fix them.
Unfortunately, the challenges in restoring this country’s energy sector have been obscured by misinformation by development opponents and due to the complexity of the issues which have been misunderstood and communicated by many in the media. Here are the top five myths which need to be addressed in order to fix the current Canadian energy crisis.

What exactly are innovation teams responsible for?

by Craig Haney

The past five articles talked about how innovation teams can use first hand research and customer feedback to find new opportunities for growth. They use Design Thinking to constantly empathize with the user and find where there are gaps and build better solutions. This seems great and important work, and also a heck of a lot of fun. Great for the innovation team, but what about the teams grinding away in operations, putting out fires, and dealing with customer complaints for products already on the market?

Companies need to come up with ways that hold innovation teams accountable for delivering value to the organization. Sales teams, operations teams and admin teams all have accountabilities that are directly related to business objectives. However, innovation teams aren’t always directly connected to these business objectives. Here are a few issues that can arise when creating accountabilities for innovation teams.

Creating spirits of today with a nod to the past

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Falls Craft Distillers is banking on a very successful future. Part of that success is built on their recognition of the areas rich past. It’s a history the company ties into each product be it vodka, whiskey, rum or gin.
Established in 2017 under the leadership and vision of local businessman and Niagara native Chris Jeffries, the distillery has had some good success in a short time period. Niagara, once known solely for its wineries and vineyards, is now making a name for itself in the craft beer and spirits markets as well. Jeffries, who owns the Syndicate restaurant in Niagara Falls where he has been brewing craft beer for over a decade, decided to take the leap into the spirits market.

Why the fuss about red tape?

by Julie Kwiecinski

No one goes into business to get stuck in red tape, but that’s what inevitably happens. From the get-go, the entrepreneur becomes a prisoner to paperwork, struggling their way through endless excessive, unnecessary and redundant government-imposed rules.

The fuss about red tape is justified for many reasons. Red tape costs businesses time and money that could be better spent on creating jobs and improving competitiveness. Small businesses in the province spend as much as 177 hours and $6,776 per employee every year to comply with regulations from all levels of government.

Is your idea actually a good one?

by Craig Haney

If you’ve gotten this far in the Design Thinking series, then you’ve bought into the concept that being customer centric matters. Great, and welcome to this side of the tracks. It’s a humbling place to be, but it does inspire you to create things customers actually want to buy.

You’ve just finished reading “There’s a proper way to brainstorm” and we’ve taken you through a structured way to find explore some new ideas. Constantly diverging and converging. Now we need to test those ideas to see if they are any good. The goal of this phase is to prototype the idea, feature, concept as quickly as we can and get it in front of potential customers to gather feedback.

Canadian National Rail profit beats on higher crude, grain shipments, raises dividend

by EnergyNow Media

Canadian National Railway Co beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit on Tuesday, as it transported higher volumes of petroleum crude and Canadian grain.
A lack of pipelines to the United States and oversupply have led Canadian energy producers to look for alternatives such as railroads to ship crude.
As a result, Canada’s largest railway operator said total carloads, the amount of freight loaded into cars, rose about 5 percent in the final quarter of 2018.

There’s a proper way to Brainstorm

by Craig Haney

In my last article, Ideas are the easy part, we focused on empathizing with your users and customers, and defining a problem from their point of view. Too often we spend our time defining the problems from the company point of view and expect our customers to follow…and because of more choice and more information available, customers aren’t following like they used to.

I received some feedback from the last post, and most of the questions were around how to do ideation and brainstorming effectively. Let’s spend a few minutes diving deeper into that process. Last post we spent a little time on ideation and talked about the need to not brainstorm too quickly, before we’ve validated that the problem is a real problem for the user; one that they are willing to pay to have solved.

Ideas are the easy part

by Craig Haney

In my travels around the world working and advising leaders and companies on innovation activities, I hear a similar challenge:

“We ran this idea challenge, and it was great. We got a lot of ideas but nothing ever came after that.”

Employees are full of great ideas, and some bad ones too. Customers often have really practical ideas to solve their problems. Vendors you work with may have wonderful ideas that they have seen work in different areas, competitors, etc. So many great ideas. The challenge is, ideation, or brainstorming, is actually the middle step in a 5 step process built to generate new ideas, but also new products (and revenue) from those ideas.

Against the backdrop of an election year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing increasing pressure amid calls to move faster and more forcefully to complete a new oil pipeline in this country.

That pressure is underscored in new public opinion data from the Angus Reid Institute that shows six-in-ten Canadians say the lack of new pipeline capacity constitutes a “crisis”, while half say the Trudeau government has done “too little” to ensure new capacity is built.

Big companies moving fast in new areas

by Craig Haney

As a kid we want to go fast. Faster on a bike. Faster in a car. Faster on a ski hill. The repercussions of going fast weren’t as impactful as the immediate fun we were having with the wind blowing through our hair or the thrill of living on the edge. The reward was high, the cost was low. So we did it.

As we became teenagers, our teachers, parents, police officers, and others told us to slow down. Be careful. Take your time. You don’t have to rush. These were drilled in us and the consequences of the mistakes of going too fast seemed to get bigger. Or so we were told.

The accelerating pace of change

by Trevin Stratton PhD

When we say the pace of change is accelerating, we mean that in many sectors, critical foundations of industry structure—the economic fundamentals, the borders of industries, the value of different assets, even the types of competitors—are rapidly shifting.
Every December, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce predicts the issues, opportunities and outlook for the year ahead in our Crystal Ball Report. We gather insights from the people on the ground who are running businesses, creating jobs and wealth, but also living through Canada’s economic challenges.

What to Watch in Commodities in 2019: Winners and Losers Line-Up

by Jeremy Hill, Ranjeetha Pakiam, Jake Lloyd-Smith

Commodities took a kicking in 2018 — with deep losses in everything from oil and copper to coffee and sugar — so what’s in store for the 12 months to come? The inaugural What to Watch of the year offers a selective run through of prospects and pitfalls for some of the top raw materials, and it’s a reasonably positive picture that emerges.
That road map comes ahead of a busy period. The U.S.-China trade fight will be in the news next week, with a U.S. delegation in Beijing for talks from Monday. In addition, there’ll be more pointers on the macroeconomic outlook, with the World Bank updating its Global Economic Prospects report on Tuesday and a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday. Before that — and following a turbulent few days — Powell speaks in Atlanta later Friday.

Innovate like a fighter pilot

by Craig Haney

John Boyd is widely regarded as the person who pioneered the design of modern military jet fighters in the 20th century. His theories led to the Lightweight Fighter program (LWF), based on his Energy-Manoeuvrability (E-M) Theory, which states that excessive weight would have debilitating consequences for manoeuvrability of an aircraft. At the time it was controversial as the pilot would have to sacrifice key elements, such as speed and weaponry, to optimize agility.
The other significant framework Boyd developed was the Observe Orient Decide Act (OODA) Loop. This is the process by which an entity (an individual or an organization) reacts to an event. According to this idea, the key to victory is to be able to create situations in which one can make appropriate decisions more quickly than one’s opponent.

New Year, New Focus on Corporate Innovation

by Craig Haney

As we head into 2019, it’s a great opportunity to evaluate the past year (or more) and look to the new year with an eye to improvement, change, and focus. With that, we’d like to introduce you to the concept of a Nimble Hippo.
The Nimble Hippo is a representation of what an agile, nimble, and innovative organization looks like. Nimble Hippos are big, they are smart, they are curious and they ask great questions. They partner where they can. And, finally, they are cool, they are the company that people want to work at, and work with. The most innovative companies in the world express these five traits across their organization and tend to be very successful because of them.
The Nimble Hippo will take you through the process of innovation in large organizations. He has talked about open innovation and how to engage with innovative ecosystems, with companies and people not like you. Nimble Hippos understand that culture, people, and processes that support new ideas and technologies will ultimately determine the sustainability of innovative companies.

Time for cross provincial alcohol sales say business leaders

by Kevin Vallier

Canada, and the Niagara Region in particular, is home to a burgeoning wine, beer and spirits industry, but Canadians can’t take full advantage of these products because of trade barriers that prevent the free-flow of beverage alcohol within Canada. The Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) and local Chambers of Commerce agree that it’s time to allow alcohol to travel across provincial borders, barrier free (particularly with growing online sales).
Earlier this month the Toronto Region Board of Trade raised the idea that federal and provincial First Ministers should sign an icebreaker deal on alcohol sales, allowing for e-commerce of any locally produced alcoholic beverage across any interprovincial border. The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and the CGCC, along with partners in the beverage alcohol sector, called on the First Ministers to discuss a more robust internal trade.

New manufacturing facility announced for St. Catharines

by The Niagara Independent

Another private company has decided to invest in Niagara, this time in St. Catharines. After Welland recently announced that insurance giant, Kanetix Ltd. would be opening a new office and creating up to 100 jobs within a year, Steelcon Fabrication Inc. announced the company plans on opening a new $40 million manufacturing facility in the Garden City. The plant will produce its leading SIN-beam product for the North American market.
A family-owned company based in Brampton, Steelcon uses advanced technologies to produce construction beams that are lighter, use less steel, and have less of an impact on the environment while making construction more efficient.
“The decision on the site was an extremely smooth one. St. Catharines brims with manufacturing facilities and when you can infill a location that fits so well for Steelcon, it makes for a great transaction,” said Ralph Roselli, Partner and Sales Representative at Colliers Niagara.

Ford continues rollback of red tape

by Nicholas Tibollo

Yesterday, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Todd Smith, tabled new legislation that would see further reduction of red tape and regulatory burden across the province.

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, outlines over 30 actions aimed at making life easier for local job creators.

“The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act is the second in a series of bills targeted at getting government out of the way of the job creators,” said Smith in a media release. “We’re going to lower business costs to make Ontario more competitive. And we’re going to continue to work hard every day to create and keep good jobs right here in Ontario.”

The act, if passed, will affect numerous industries (agriculture, auto, construction, manufacturing, etc.) and about a dozen ministeries, from Finance to Transportation.

The Motherhood Penalty

by Dr. Sarah Kaplan

Ontario has had the world’s most advanced pay equity legislation for more than 30 years. And yet women in the province still earn significantly less, on average, than men. Why?
We read the papers and see Iceland and the U.K. and other jurisdictions passing new laws focused on equal pay, and our first reaction is to think that Ontario needs to get on the bandwagon. But, in reality, Ontario’s 1987 Pay Equity Act (which is further bolstered by the Human Rights Code and recent changes in the Employment Standards Act) is actually state of the art. Many of the pay transparency provisions emerging in countries around the world are occurring in jurisdictions that did not have the excellent legislation that we already have. And their provisions are not as effective or targeted as those that we have in place. If you review the company reports coming out of the U.K., you will learn, for example, that the large Canadian banks operating there have a 30 to 60 per cent wage gap. But, those reports don’t tell us anything about pay. Instead, they simply show that these companies (and most of the rest of the companies reporting) have few women in top jobs (which pay more than jobs at lower tiers of the organization). It says nothing about whether or not women and men are paid the same for the same jobs.

Social commentator Rex Murphy says it should be illegal for Canadian governments to collect carbon taxes until there are new export pipelines delivering Alberta crude oil to world markets.

A sold-out audience at the Bennett Jones Lake Louise World Cup Business Forum leaped to their feet in a standing ovation as the former CBC commentator ended a fiery speech criticizing environmentalists and federal politicians alike for stalling pipelines.

A lack of pipeline capacity is blamed for a glut of oil in Western Canada that has resulted in Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend crude trading at as much as US$52 per barrel less than New York-traded West Texas Intermediate.

One of the largest foreign holders of Canadian energy stocks says investors are turning away from the country, frustrated over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s failure to get pipelines built to ease a record discount for oil-sands crude.
In a letter to the prime minister, Darren Peers, an analyst and investor at Los Angeles-based Capital Group Cos., warns investors and companies will continue to avoid the Canadian energy sector unless more is done to improve market access.
“Capital Group’s energy investments are increasingly shifting to other jurisdictions and that is likely to continue without strong government action,” Peers wrote in a letter dated Oct. 19. “I hope that your government will be even more proactive in securing market access which will assure the competitiveness of Canadian energy companies.”

Government support for energy sector growth urgently needed, says bank CEO

by Canadian Press

The CEO of the Royal Bank says the oil and gas sector is poised to deliver billions of dollars in new revenue to Canadian governments over the next decade by meeting growing global energy demand but it can’t do it without urgently needed support.
Dave McKay, who has previously taken Ottawa to task over Canada’s lagging tax competitiveness with the U.S., says a new RBC study suggests that Canadian governments could earn an extra $195 billion in revenues between now and 2030 with the right kind of energy development.

The obvious (though, seldom discussed) upside to local development

by Nicholas Tibollo

Much ado is made when housing development projects sprout up across the peninsula.

Environmental, historical, and cultural concerns typically top the public’s interest list after any announcement.

On occasion, there is indeed an endangered barn owl population or a First Nations burial ground in a proposed development area. However, frequently the land in question is already disturbed or less environmentally significant than proclaimed.

Niagara native develops software connecting employers and employees

by Kevin Vallier

Raised in Grimsby, Mary Hays left the west Niagara community and became a teacher in the GTA. Her career lead her into the workforce placement sector where she worked with digital education platforms and decided what she was doing in education could be brought into the business world and potentially help solve the skills gap.
Hays developed a platform called Workbay which helps connect employers and employees but also provides a lot more tools to both. A customized version has been developed for Niagara, called Opportunity Niagara. A cross section of employers and academics got a firsthand look at what the platform’s capabilities are this week at SPARK Niagara, a local tech incubator. Those in attendance included representatives from Niagara College, Brock University, the tourism industry as well as economic development officers from the Region and Niagara Falls.

Rethinking the Bottom Line

by Brock Dickinson

Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver the keynote presentation at the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) annual conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The EDAC conference is an annual gathering of hundreds of professionals interested in local development, including economists, developers, investment attraction specialists, and site selectors. This year, they asked me to speak about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs – a set of 17 ambitious development goals that every government on the planet has committed to achieve by 2030.
The 17 SDGs make for a pretty diverse agenda, targeting everything from the need for “decent work and economic growth” (which is SDG #8) to “responsible consumption and production” (SDG #12) to “clean water and sanitation” (SDG #6). While the goals themselves are fairly broad and high-level, they are underpinned by 169 action plans that are much more specific, tangible and precise.

OLG announces new Niagara casino operator

by Kevin Vallier

In what is being hailed as a win for Niagara’s casinos, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has selected Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) as the service provider for the Niagara Gaming Bundle, following a competitive procurement process.

The Niagara Gaming Bundle includes Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. MGE will also operate the future 5,000-seat Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre being built at the Hilton Fallsview, located adjacent to the Fallsview Casino.

OLG expects MGE will take over day-to-day operations in the summer of 2019. The agreement is for 21 years.

Meal-kits are eating up market share

by Kevin Vallier

It’s a relatively new industry but it’s one that continues to grow and shows no signs of being simply a trend. With many households in Canada having two working parents or, with the high divorce rate, single parent homes where that parent is also working full time, there’s no wonder the meal-kit industry is on the rise.

Meal-kit usage is growing at an explosive rate in Canada. According to a recent report by The NPD Group, the meal-kit business is among the fastest growing food segments in the Canadian marketplace. Data shows that the industry has roughly doubled since 2014, and is expected to exceed $400 million over the next year.

Agri-business: Niagara’s Little Known Growing Economy

by Kevin Vallier

While many people in Niagara are generally aware of the fact that the region produces quality fruit like grapes and peaches as well as being home to several green houses, most have no clue as to the massive economic impact the agri-business has on Niagara’s economy.
In fact, Niagara produces 80 per cent of the country’s grapes and wine. But the agri-business here in Niagara extends far beyond the wineries and the local fruit stands. The region has always offered some of North America’s best growing conditions, but today, with the help of advances in technology, research and new approaches, the face of farming is changing in a most profitable way.

Niagara is fortunate to have such generous business leaders

by Kevin Vallier

After having the pleasure of interviewing a number of Niagara’s business leaders on the topic of philanthropy, it’s become quite clear that this region is very fortunate to have a business community whose generosity knows no bounds.
Business owners of companies of all sizes continue to support Niagara’s charities, post-secondary schools and healthcare facilities. On a daily basis these businesses are inundated with requests for funding from hundreds of not-for-profits, sports teams and service clubs. From major gifts in support of large capital campaigns to sponsoring a hole at a charity golf tournament to providing food and clothing to organizations like Community Care, these individuals aren’t just business leaders; they are community leaders.

Ontario Power Generation signs agreement to purchase Eagle Creek Renewable Energy

by The Niagara Independent

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the equity of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC in the U.S.
The purchase price is US$298 million, subject to customary working capital and other adjustments on closing, OPG said.
OPG has stated that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund this acquisition. Instead, the investment will be financed through OPG’s corporate public debt program or other available credit facilities.

Building up Niagara – The Business of Philanthropy 3

by Kevin Vallier

It’s difficult to go anywhere in Niagara without seeing a sign recognizing their contributions. The owners of these three companies have sat on boards, volunteered their time and donated millions to a variety of hospitals, schools and other charities. They don’t do it for recognition – to get their name on a building or to be honoured at a ribbon cutting. When you talk to them it’s clear that they are business owners with a strong social conscious.

Rankin Construction, Mountainview Homes and Walker Industries are three companies that literally and figuratively have helped build Niagara. There’s a theatre, cancer centre, YMCA, Technology Centre and other buildings that bear the name of either these companies or the men or families that own them. But there is so much more to what they contribute to this society. Much of it goes unnoticed by the general public but certainly not be the charities and families they’ve helped along the way.

Rising Up and Giving Back

by Kevin Vallier

It was a prime example of how business leaders come together to support Niagara charities and those less fortunate. In 2009, ten men from Niagara Falls lived together in a tent for five days. By the end of those five days they had managed to help raise $302,000 for Project SHARE.
Most of the same crew was back in 2010 for 10 Men in a Tent 2.0. An all women version called 12 Women Who Care was held in 2011 and 2012.
The concept was the brainchild of Niagara Falls businessman and regional councillor, Bob Gale. He was joined by former Niagara Falls Review publisher Dave Martineau, Niagara Falls Mayor (then city councillor) Jim Diodati, Niagara Ice Dogs owner Bill Burke, radio personality Rob White, Ripley’s Entertainment manager Tim Parker, Dino Fazio who at the time managed the Winter Festival of Lights, Dr. George Zimakas, and businessmen Brian Pellow and Kevin Grealy.

Stepping up and helping out – The Philanthropy of Business

by Kevin Vallier

This is the first article in a series on the generousity of the local business community in Niagara.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Niagara isn’t home to numerous multi-billion dollar corporations. Companies like GM have downsized dramatically over the years and public sector jobs like government, healthcare and education are the leading employers. This type of corporate landscape can make it a challenge for non-profit social welfare organizations to raise money in order to help those they serve as part of their mandate.

Thankfully, Niagara is home to hundreds of small, medium and some larger size businesses that step up year after year contributing money and time to local charities. Business owners are asked daily for gifts ranging from golf prizes, sponsorship money, gifts-in-kind and large gifts supporting capital campaigns for hospitals, colleges and universities.

The Business of Philanthropy

by Kevin Vallier

One can’t walk into a Niagara hospital, new arena, community centre or many other such venues, without seeing front and centre a donor wall with the names of dozens, if not hundreds, of generous businesses and individuals whose cumulative gifts made the facility possible.  Businesses and business people make by far the lion’s share of all charitable donations to fundraising initiatives in Niagara – always have, probably always will.

Drive around and you’ll see the Meridian Arena, the Gale Centre, Scotiabank Convention Centre, McBain Community Centre, Walker Cancer Centre, Rankin Technology Centre and First Ontario Place to name just a few.  Donor walls are filled with the names of big, medium and small local businesses and with the who’s-who in any particular business community.

Rarely do these walls have the names of public sector workers or their unions.  Not that these individuals and organizations don’t give, they surely do, especially through workplace source deduction plans that are often set up with groups like the United Way.

Oil CEOs Are Making Their Case Against Being Sued Over Climate

by Kelly Gilblom

Leaders of the world’s largest oil companies want everyone to know it won’t do anyone any good to make them pay for the damages of climate change.
Executives have been making the argument after a series of U.S. states and municipalities filed class action lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and others in recent months, arguing it should be them that pays for the sea walls, levees and other infrastructure climate change is sure to require.

Niagara’s Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits acquires BC winery

by The Niagara Independent

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Inc. has acquired Backyard Vineyards Inc. of Langley, British Columbia for $3 million in stock, cash and the assumption of some debt. In what is described by the Company as a “highly strategic transaction” the acquisition transforms Diamond Estates into a national producer of VQA wines and positions the Company to build a major new winery in the internationally-recognized Okanagan Valley wine-producing region.
Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits Inc. is a producer of wines and a sales agent for over 120 beverage alcohol brands across Canada. The company operates wineries in Niagara and one in Toronto, producing VQA and blended wines under brand names 20 Bees, EastDell, Lakeview Cellars, FRESH, Dan Aykroyd, McMichael Collection, Benchmark and Seasons.

U.S. tariffs put rhetoric ahead of prosperity

by Mishka Balsom

The Trump administration’s recent decision to levy a 10 per cent import tariff on aluminum and a 25 per cent tariff on steel makes little economic sense, not only to Canada, but for the United States. Despite the belief among much of President Trump’s base that tariffs will protect American jobs, a policy brief from the Trade Partnership estimated that 146,000 American jobs will be lost because of such tariffs. This is borne out by the experience of 2002 when President George W. Bush enacted similar tariffs on steel, causing the loss of 200,000 American manufacturing jobs. If the true aim of U.S. policy is to protect American jobs, it is foolhardy in the extreme.

Oilpatch Outflanked Again By False Subsidy Allegations

by David Yager

Years ago, allegations emerged that the oil industry was heavily subsidized by governments, part of an opinion shaping strategy by activists convinced fossil fuels were accelerating climate change. As subsidy estimates grew larger, few questions were asked. Governments had to stop contributing to this planetary threat.
Except it wasn’t true.
While indeed some countries insulate consumers from the full cost of energy for political reasons, the definition of what constituted a subsidy was expanded beyond previous comprehension. In Canada the allegations of subsidies are complete rubbish. The oilpatch has a huge hill to climb to return sanity to the discussion.

State of the Canadian Economy

by Trevin Stratton PhD

Tariffs. Trade talks. Pipelines. Electoral change. While the Canadian economy continues to grow (albeit somewhat slowly), these are just some of the factors that might slow it down. As we head into summer, and the mid-point of 2018, now is a good time to take stock of Canada’s economic performance and consider what the latter half of the year might have in store for us.
The economy stumbled into 2018, slogging its way through weak consumer spending and housing markets. Real GDP increased at a pace of 1.3 per cent in the first three months of 2018 – the slowest quarterly growth in nearly two years. The Canadian economy grew at less than a 2-per-cent rate for the third consecutive quarter, a far cry from the nearly 4-per-cent average between July 2016 and June 2017.

Trades Shortage Still an Issue in Ontario

by Kevin Vallier

Despite the efforts of many individuals and organizations, there still is not enough young people entering the skilled trades as a career.
Skills Canada estimates almost half of new jobs created in the next decade will be in skilled trades, but only 26 per cent of young people are considering that type of career. Jon Whyte from the Niagara Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) says not enough is being done to promote the skilled trades. “One of the things we, and others, have been recommending is a one-to-one journeyperson to apprentice ratio,” said Whyte. According to the NHBA most provinces already have a one-to-one ratio whereas Ontario has one of the highest tradesperson to apprentice ratios for residential construction trades in Canada.

Time to Turn Small Business Talk into Action

by Julie Kwiecinski

Every election, party leaders and candidates like to position themselves as friends of small business, fighting for the little guy or gal on Main Street. It makes for a great photo-op, but with increasing government debt, higher labour and energy costs, and NAFTA uncertainty, it’s imperative that parties back up all their small business talk with plans for real and immediate action if elected.

We recently conducted a survey of our members on the top small business issues for the next government to tackle after the June 7th election. The 3,390 respondents told us that reducing the provincial debt is their number one priority (71 per cent), followed by balancing the budget (68 per cent).

It wasn’t an apology nor admission of wrongdoing. But it was certainly an about-face for Steve Williams, the CEO of Suncor Energy Inc. On May 3, Williams was very explicit about why Suncor would not be investing in any new projects in Canada.
“Big investment in the resource industry….is starting to move away from Canada. And that is partly because of taxation, partly to do with royalties, partly to do with the uncertainty – the length of time it takes to get through these regulatory hurdles – and the general belief in the investment community that Canada is not a great place to spend money”.

Can Niagara be More Resilient?

by Brock Dickinson

One of the realities of growth and job creation in the current economy is that new and entrepreneurial ventures are carrying a lot of the burden. The US-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) suggests that almost all of the job creation in the American economy since the year 2000 has been driven by companies less than five years old.

This reliance on entrepreneurship ups the ante in terms of how well we support new business ventures. The World Bank says that Canada is actually the 2nd easiest country in the world to start a business in, with procedures that take a single day. But while red tape isn’t an issue in launching a business, the barriers begin to mount up starting on day two – and recent changes at both the provincial and federal levels have made it more difficult to get a new business from start-up to success.

The Keys to Raising Financially Savvy Children

by David Somerville

If you asked any parent these days what about raising children is keeping them awake at night, it could be several things. One of the top three concerns for sure would be how kids today have no appreciation for money.  Kids these days don’t really understand the concept of money. Why would they? Parents today are basically glorified ATM machines in the eyes of their children.

Most parents we talk to are overwhelmed with the expense of raising children. Not only are the basic needs draining the bank account, but the consistent wants of the children are financially exhausting.  The keeping up with the Jones’s – teen edition – is on full stage these days with the need to fit in and the social media barrage of advertisements.

Bill 148 A Niagara Perspective

by Kevin Vallier

 As the Niagara Independent wraps up its five-part series on the impacts of Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, it has become clear that the legislation is stifling the growth of local companies. Small and medium-sized business owners in particular have stated they will have to lay-off employees, reduce hours or not hire seasonal workers to the extent they have in the past.

It’s not only the rapid minimum wage increase that has added unanticipated costs to the bottom line but several other amendments to the Act as well including equal pay for full or part-time employees, vacation entitlements and scheduling. Business owners that The Niagara Independent spoke with said they have no issue with increasing minimum wage. The issue they have is with the phoney consultation process and rapid implementation.  

Ontario’s Economic Performance worst in Canada Study Finds

by The Niagara Independent

Every year when the provincial or federal budgets are introduced, the public gets bombarded with economic spin as the governments of the day seek to put lipstick on a pig.  For the public, constantly experiencing unemployment, underemployment and a seemingly ever-increasing cost of living to go along with minimal income growth – these rosy statistics put out by government Ministers just does not seem to match their own realities.

Recently Ben Eisen and Milagros Palacios, academics with the Fraser Institute, put out several economic measures about Ontario’s economy over the last decade (2007-2016) to objectively measure its performance.  Matching what most Ontarians are feeling, the results weren’t good.

Niagara Region’s Director of Economic Development David Oakes recently announced he was stepping down from the role after about two years in the position. Oakes is moving on to become the Deputy CAO of the City of St. Catharines, and he’s leaving behind some big shoes to fill.

And filling those shoes will be a challenge.  I’ve worked in economic development for more than 25 years, leading projects and programs in more than 400 communities in 30 countries. For the past dozen years, I’ve also been the head of the University of Waterloo’s Economic Development Program, which runs the professional certification programs for those who hope to work in this field in Canada.

Niagara’s Tourism Industry Hit Hard by Bill 148

by Jill Tham

Bill 148 came into effect in January of this year.  While most of the buzz created by the bill goes to the 36% hike in minimum wage, there are many additional measures in the Bill that are causing increased costs and concerns for businesses. 

In the first two profiles, the Niagara Independent looked at the impact the bill had on a locally owned and operated restaurant followed by an agricultural business. In both cases, the owners had little to no option on raising prices or find ways to work more efficiently with few employees to make up for increased costs imposed on them by Bill 148.

Bill 148 – Puts the Squeeze on Niagara’s Agricultural Sector

by Jill Tham

This is the second in a multi-part series of reports on how the Ontario government’s Bill 148 has impacted local Niagara businesses. The effects of Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Job’s Act is hitting Niagara’s business sector. One local businessman willing to speak openly about the Bill, yet unwilling to disclose his name for fear […]

Niagara’s Next Jobs

by Brock Dickinson

As you’ll see from coverage elsewhere in the Niagara Independent, Innovate Niagara is approaching the 10th anniversary of some of its operations in the community. According to ancient tradition (or to Hallmark – I’m never really sure about these things), the 10th anniversary is supposed to be marked by gifts of tin or aluminum. That’s not quite the “golden” anniversary we often look forward to, or the “diamond jubilee” we offer to monarchs, but it is a significant opportunity to look back and reflect on where we’ve come from.

Innovate Niagara is one of 14 Regional Innovations Centres (or RICs, since we all love a good acronym) spread across Ontario, structures meant to promote and encourage innovation and the growth of high technology industries. Long before it started to operate under the name “Innovate Niagara” however, the organization was first known as nGen, and was focused on growing Niagara’s interactive and digital media industries. For the uninitiated, that’s things like video game companies, computer animation firms, online content creation businesses, and e-learning ventures

Bill 148 – The Local Impact to Niagara Business

by Jill Tham

Three months have passed since the onset of Bill 148, leaving small business owners across the Niagara Region conflicted by the impact of the changes to the Employee Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act. With increases in business costs across the board, employers have been left holding the bag on how to compensate for the rise in costs.

Situated in the quiet town of St. David’s is The Old Firehall Restaurant. Originally a volunteer fire station, The Old Firehall is one of only two restaurants in the community. In 2001, owner Chris Rigas purchased the establishment from his father and since then has enjoyed the intimate dining experience the historic building provides local residents and visitors.

Ontario’s Labour Changes: Much More than Minimum Wage Hikes

by Julie Kwiecinski

Ontario’s small businesses have been struggling to cope with much more than hasty and hefty minimum wage hikes. Lying in the shadows of these dramatic increases are many other sweeping labour reforms that mean even higher labour costs and more red tape.

The Ontario government has described its labour reform exercise as the biggest overhaul of the province’s labour and employment standards laws in over two decades. Yet, they have failed to adequately educate employers about the exhaustive list of other significant changes beyond the minimum wage. How can a business be expected to comply with what it doesn’t yet know and/or fully understand?

Making, Breaking, Coding and Creating: Preparing for Niagara’s Next Economy

by Brock Dickinson

One thing our new knowledge economy produces in huge volumes is a lot of vague but exciting-sounding terms meant to say something about how technology reshapes our world. You probably know the type of world I mean. There’s Hacking. And Cracking. And Phishing. And Making. And Coding.

One of the more exciting ventures to launch in Niagara recently is called Code Niagara. Started by Yashvi Shah, a young woman from Niagara Falls, Code Niagara is a not-for-profit group that delivers “coding,” or computer programming training to young people in Niagara. Yahsvi’s story is an interesting one: As an undergraduate student, she signed up for some introductory computer programming classes at McGill University, where she found that her classmates from across Canada were already familiar with the basics of coding. Her own time in Niagara elementary and high schools had left her without any exposure to coding, which placed her at an obvious disadvantage. To make sure that other Niagara youth didn’t face the same challenges, she launched Code Niagara.

The Biggest Risk Facing Canadians Is Their Debt

by David Somerville

When I get the chance to really talk to friends, family and clients, the one thing that comes up most often is how they are struggling to manage their monthly cash flow. This concern is not just limited to people I’m spending my time with, but rather Canadians as a majority are currently living month to month and for many, living in a debt and spending crisis.

I came across some startling facts in my research for this article. In 2016 Canadians were adding more debt to their balance sheets faster than any other time in history.  Currently the average Canadian owes $22,595 of non-mortgage debt. Breaking it down another way, the average Canadian owes $1.64 for every dollar of take home income.


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