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. […]

downtown Toronto

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 […]

Ursula von der Leyen speaking at COP26,

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 […]

University of Toronto

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 […]

President Joe Biden

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 […]

Rocco Rossi

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 […]

a person holding a baby and working on their laptop

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 […]

Steve Jobs

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, […]

oil rigs

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 […]

phone with a qr code

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 […]

frankfurt station

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 […]

medical checklist

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 […]

downtown montreal

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 […]

Doug Downey MPP

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 […]

box with office supplies

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 […]

oil rig

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 […]

vaccine passport

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. […]

calculator on a desk

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 […]

open sign

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 […]

Sun life building

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 […]

syringe and vaccine vile

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. […]

PM Boris Johnson

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 […]

two people looking over a document

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 […]

west block

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 […]

person getting vaccinated

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.

tesla AI

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 […]

masked workers

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.

Executives from Shxw’ōwhámél Ventures

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.

elections canada sign

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.

Finance ministers at g7

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?

a person being vaccinated

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.

puzzle exercise

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.

parliament hill

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.

a gavel

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.

Paul Weltman

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

No? Me neither.

Jonathan Wilkinson MP

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.

Delduca MPP

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.

signing a contract

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.

O'Toole and Trudeau

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.

PM Trudeau

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.

a woman on the computer, working from home

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.

Premier Ford and Minister Bethlenfalvy

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.

cannabis store

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.

attandant filling up a car with gas

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.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation building

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.

Laurentian University aerial view

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.

Finance Minister Freeland

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.

credit card machine

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.

Freeland MP in an office

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.

gas pumps

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.

closed sign on window

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.

steel workers

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.

RABSFund launch

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.

health care professionals holding an air decontamination system

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.

bouquet of roses

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.

Alex Peters and Rohan Mahimker

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.

glasses of wine and a bottle

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.

grape harvest

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.

person using hand sanitizer

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.

crowd gathered outside of the Guinness World Records museum

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.

inside of the GM plant

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’ Amazon.com, its price has since fell by 23 per cent following underwhelming third quarter fiscal 2020 numbers.

blackberry hq

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.

closed sign

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.

Dale Swampy

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.

small business insurance

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.

facebook logos

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com, 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.

amazon blackberry

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.

bowls of food

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.

a scientist working with a microscope

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.

moderna buidling

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.

Pfizer HQ

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.

oil rigs

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.

Blake Sherk and Ben Gigone

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.

medical diagnostics company Hoffmann-La Roche announcement

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.

Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls

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.

student graduation selfie

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)”.

covid-19 questionnaire

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.

bay street

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.

Sheila DeLuca, host of The Atrium, interviews Victor Pietrangelo

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.

open sign on a door

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.

sir thomas More

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.

shovels in the ground

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.

holiday inn and parkway social resturant

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.

oil rigs

(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.

covid-19 virus

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.

illustration showcasing a small modular nuclear reactor

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.

moore's model stock photo

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.

Sean Simpson holding an award

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.

home made from shipping containers

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.

business hours sign

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.

gavel on a desk

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.

carbon fibre

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.

closed due to coronavirus sign

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.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business launching a shop local campaign with the help of Premier Doug 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.

reset, restart, reopen

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.

a road with the words "covid-19"

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.

enbridge tank

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, […]

digital main street

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?

downtown toronto

“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.

business law sign

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.

economic recovery

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.

stats canada building

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 https://uwaterloo.ca/economic-development/courses-and-seminars/covid19-and-economic-developers-online).

stock market screens

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.

smartphone screen

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.

stock market screens

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.

bank of canada

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.

bay street intersection with buildings

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.”

workers on a construction site

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.

closed sign

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.

working on a laptop

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.

digital marketing

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.

opec logo

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.

corona virus graphic

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.

Joel Need

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.

finance workers

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.

rod phillips

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.

closed sign

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.

washing hands

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.

crisis communications

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.

small modular nuclear reactor on a truck

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.

: Jeff Chatterton and Conway Fraser

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.

trevin stratton

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.

a man with a tablet and chart

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.

kia and hyundai buildings

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.

an employee under two video cameras

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.

bombardier airplane

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.

Toronto financial district

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.”

Terry Kadwell speaking at an event

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.

man sitting at desk with his hands on his face

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.

corona 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.

Open for business sign in a door

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.

carbon tax in the clouds

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.

tax form and a calculator

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.

The Charles Carter building

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.

a gavel and book

“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.

a person on their computer

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.

small business owners

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.

credit union

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.

a gavel on desktop

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.

rbc and niagara college representative

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.

transmountain pipeline construction

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.

recession sign

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.

Bill Peters

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.

keyboard button

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.

bill morneau

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.

employment contract

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.

house for sale

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.

geordie walker

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.

port weller

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%).

bank of canada

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.

canal lock 9

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.

bonus envelope

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.

Paul Bosc Jr. with his father Paul Sr.

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.

rainbow bridge

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.”

niagara networks

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.

bonus plan

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.

caddle team

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.

dark money

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.

Jessica and Michael Kemp

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.

carbon tax

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.

oil exodus

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?

business law book

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.

economic 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.

chamber awards

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.

sheryl johnson


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