Whether it’s physical health, mental health, having a safe workplace, or just getting along with each other, it’s increasingly important for employers to be proactive when it comes to the health of their employees. This week the focus is on mental health with Bell Let’s Talk Day having taken place yesterday.
Mental health in the workplace for employees and employers has been an issue the Chamber Network has been working on for some time at the provincial and federal levels.
At both levels, the business community is asking for help from the government in the form of developing a national strategy, help with training for employers, as well as creating an improved policy framework to allow employers to offer the Employee Assistance Program to their employees.
The emphasis of Bell Let’s Talk is to encourage conversation and action around mental health, and with good reason. The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have provided the following research evidence to demonstrate the significant impact of mental health problems in the workplace:
The provincial policy resolution approved by the Chamber Network at the 2018 Ontario Chamber of
Commerce Annual General Meeting asks government to:
At the national level, a policy resolution was passed by Chamber delegates at the 2018 National Annual General Meeting calling for more data to be provided on program outcomes and for business owners and entrepreneurs to be considered when developing programs.
The resolution speaks to the greater focus on entrepreneurship, highlighting a 2017 study by Bluteau DeVenney which showed that 72 per cent of entrepreneurs live with some form of mental illness, 40.5 per cent report their mental health had worsened since becoming entrepreneurs and 47.3 per cent report a decline in their overall health. Starting and building a business caused negative impacts in the personal relationships and social lives of 74.5 per cent of respondents. Entrepreneurs are 3.5 times as likely to experience mental illness and five times as likely to contemplate suicide as the general public.
A report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce reveals that 81% of businesses believe that it is
important to support their employees’ mental wellness in the workplace; however, only 35% of small business, 65% of medium sized business and 76% of large business have mental health strategies.
In response to the gap, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has developed a toolkit based on three principles:
Setting Expectations – Creating a mentally healthy workplace is a journey and employers do not need to have all the answers. A good way to start is assessing their businesses by looking for barriers,
support and opportunities for change, as well as identifying potential stress points in their workplace.
Creating a Supportive Environment – Leadership, from not only management but
employees themselves, is needed to create a supportive environment where everyone can feel
comfortable with and empowered by the focus on mental wellness.
Maintaining the Conversation – Businesses are encouraged to regularly assess if they are sticking with their mission on mental wellness. Feedback and using data to measure progress are several ways to do this.
Start a conversation today.
In the next couple of months, the Ford Government will be delivering its first budget. From an advocacy perspective budgets paint a picture of the government’s roadmap or work plan for the year.
At a recent meeting of the Economic Club of Canada Premier Ford reiterated the focus of the government for this first budget.
"Ontario inherited a $15 billion deficit. If we allow this deficit to continue to fester and grow, it will end up imperilling our hospitals, schools and other public services. We cannot allow this to happen," said Premier Ford. "I'm proud to say we have made good progress in restoring fiscal discipline to Ontario, but there's still a lot of hard work ahead of us."
As a result, the government has announced three priorities in the year ahead:
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and the heart of communities,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “Yet,
cumulative red tape, U.S. tax reforms, economic uncertainty, and a system that discourages growth have led to a staggering scale-up challenge for businesses of all sizes across Ontario. We are encouraging the government to address these challenges, focusing on fiscal balance and smarter spending in the upcoming budget to help Ontarians today and into the future.”
The pre-budget submission from the OCC includes 13 tangible recommendations for the upcoming provincial budget to build a stronger Ontario and create a business climate which encourages growth.
The recommendations include leveraging the private sector to expand broadband access, leveraging technology to increase public sector cost efficiency, preserving provincial tax exemptions on employer health and dental plans, creating a variable small business deduction, and delaying taxation on corporate income growth to overcome Ontario’s scale up challenge.
Also among the recommendations is a suggestion from the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers of Commerce asking for an increase in the heads and beds levy. This levy applies to public institutions (jails, hospitals, post-secondary) and is a payment in lieu of taxes. The levy has not been adjusted since 1987. This is a concern because cost of municipal services which is what the levy is designed to support has gone up significantly since that time. A recommendation of $100/head or bed is being made at this time.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is also talking to the provincial government about apprenticeship ratios. The Board of Directors recently approved a position that asks for a pilot project to expand the apprenticeship ratios in small urban and rural communities. The goal is to encourage more apprentices to stay in their home communities for on-the-job training while helping to increase the number of people entering the skilled trades. A second position also being presented to government will encourage keeping parts of the Ontario College of Trades that were beneficial to business, such as the public registry and clear pathways for internationally trained tradespeople.
The government is also seeking feedback from the general public. They are looking for feedback on cutting red tape for business and people who access government services, improving the way they deliver government programs or services, and saving taxpayers’ money. You can submit your thoughts on the budget online until February 8th.
On Tuesday, January 15th, the Chamber celebrated the inaugural meeting of the 2019 Board of Directors, under the direction of Ben vanVeen of Team vanRahan Century 21 as Chair of the Board.
As Chair, his focus is on how a strong member-driven organization benefits our business community and the community at large. “While the Chamber is an integral part of the business community, its strength is derived directly from the Membership,” says vanVeen.
“Therefore, it is my hope that each Chamber member becomes a Chamber Champion by encouraging other local business owners to become members, thus supporting the Chamber in its mission of Strengthening Business.”
This year will be the year for implementation of a federal carbon tax program. Ontario will be subject to the plan unless the proposed Made-in-Ontario solution is deemed comparable by the government or the province is successful in its bid against a carbon tax at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
While it's an issue that has not been settled, we do know that the Federal Carbon Tax Plan will come into effect April 1, 2019.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick are also fighting the federal plan.
The Made-in-Ontario Plan is in the consultation phase until January 28th and will then continue through the process toward becoming legislation.
The chart is an opportunity to see some of key points side-by-side. While both hope to achieve similar goals they use and/or propose very different methods to reach those goals.
For Peterborough, there are a few key pieces in both. In the provincial plan there is dedicated opportunity to invent, invest and promote clean technologies - think Cleantech Commons. The federal government has several options for innovation and there is potential to see more.
We have new Municipal Councils, a new MPP and a Federal election. We have a possible VIA Rail
announcement, an official plan to complete, and numerous local decisions to be made. We’ve had the closure of GE and will likely face continued pressures on businesses, both large and small.
Our local Councils, be they Township, County or City, are in tough. If it’s one thing we face together, it’s the accumulated debt of all levels of government. Our rural governments find keeping up with basic infrastructure needs a challenge, let alone providing for waste management, social services, recreation or EMS. They all find a way, but it’s not getting any easier.
Our new City Council, the youngest and most diverse Council in our history, will face many big decisions in 2019. The budget, the official plan, arenas, affordable housing, and significant projects such as the Louis Street Park and the Bethune Street development will all require Councils attention. This of course barely scratches the surface, and it remains to be seen whether Council has the appetite to go back and undue some of the work of the previous Council. Let’s hope not…
The Federal election will most certainly trigger significant discussion. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is active on a number of federal policy files, including trade/exports, taxation, regulation, agriculture, and resource development. Opportunity abounds if we can work well with the new USMCA and CPTPP trade
agreements, not only developing new markets, but attracting investment. Simply improving trade between our own Provinces can be a challenge!
Who knows whether we will see Federal support for VIA Rails' High Frequency Rail proposal, but the fact is that the project checks a lot of boxes. The vast majority of VIA’s business comes from the Quebec City – Windsor corridor. VIA has faced decades of challenge trying to provide timely, let alone high frequency service along the Lakeshore line. Their HFR proposal completely changes to game, allowing VIA to provide consistent, predictable, high frequency service to the most densely population region of Canada. The Federal Government did its own study of the VIA Rail proposal in 2018 and the decision is on the Ministers desk. We wait with fingers crossed. And just to make the point, anyone who politicizes this project is doing it a tremendous disservice.
The role of the Chamber in all of this is not always clear to everyone. For nearly 130 years the
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has served the business community by making suggestions to all three levels of Government. Our lobbying efforts focus on policy, not politics, and we work closely with whoever is elected. Our core function is to make sure the Government understands the role of the business community and the challenges it faces. Sometimes that can be seen as pitting the business community against other sectors, and as “politics” becomes increasingly polarized, there is a danger that the business
community will too.
We will always try to provide a balanced argument on behalf of our members.
For the past year, Heather has been introducing Peterborough and beyond to the extraordinary women in our community. Her passion is Inspire: The Women's Portait Project a compilation of photos and stories from local women.
At a recent ChamberAM event, Heather spoke about how each story is a gift. Reminding us that "being inspirational is not how we deem ourselves worthy, it is how others deem us worthy."
A good thought to kick off 2019.
I ran across an internet post last week that triggered todays column. The post was a provocative
challenge to all businesses to take a closer look at disruption, and what we can do about it.
You can pick the post apart if you want, but here is what it said:
Netflix did not kill Blockbuster.
Late fees did.
Uber did not kill the taxi business.
Limited access and fare control did.
Apple did not kill the music industry.
Being forced to buy full-length albums did.
Amazon did not kill other retailers.
Poor customer services and experience did.
Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry.
Limited availability and pricing options are.
Technology by itself is not the disruptor.
Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.
Ironically, when I saw this post, we were just putting the finishing touches on a survey we’ve now sent out, asking local business how they are doing, what their predictions are for the year to come, and for their feedback on the next generation Chamber of Commerce, and what we should be doing to better fulfill our promise of "Strengthening Business".
We are a successful Chamber, leading our industry in many award-winning ways, but despite those successes, if we are not constantly looking for ways to improve, then we are stagnant and it’s only a matter of time before someone eats our lunch.
Whether you are a Chamber member or not, I’d really appreciate it if you would take the time to fill out the survey. We’ll know more abut your business and ours.
So how does this apply to your business? How are you dealing with disruption?
I had a lesson a couple of weeks ago when a friend posted a passionate defense of buying local, a message that our Chamber has successfully branded with our #LoveLocalPtbo campaign. His comments included staying away from online shopping such as Amazon. It wasn’t long before a local business commented that Amazon was how he got his product to market. Buy local through Amazon… it is possible.
That same day an Amazon box arrived at the Chamber with my name on it, which raised a few eyebrows around here. In the Amazon box was ten copies of a book that we are using to push our Chamber to the next level. Amazon was the only way for the author to get his book to market, apart from boxing them up himself in his basement and taking them to the post office…
The day that the popular local brand, Northern Originals was launched, people were lined up to be the first person to buy one of the t-shirts. The first sale was online to someone in Calgary…
All of that to say that buying local has evolved. Business has evolved, and we should all be asking
ourselves what is next.
By the way, the book I ordered is called "Making Remarkable. How to Deliver Purpose, Inspire People and Build a Platform for Exceptional Results." The author is Adam Legge, and he describes remarkability as “a state of being exceptional in your performance, relevance and value. Adam offers an effective lens for looking at your business in three ways:
Adam has particular relevance for me, as he ran the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for ten years. Check out adamlegge.com or yup, buy it on Amazon…
Don't wait for disruption to happen; it's something you should be constantly doing. It's also a concept that is not and should not be limited to a few businesses or sectors. We encourage all members to consider how they can disrupt their industry and push their limits. Some will simply try to keep up with inevitable change. Others will completely reinvent themselves and their industry in the process. What is your purpose? What is your platform?
Disruption vs. Innovation
By: Sandra Dueck, Policy Analyst, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
Stu's article above got me thinking.
How is disruption different from innovation or is it the same idea expressed in a different way?
A dive into the Internet and there was an abundance of thought. I found an article in CEO Magazine from March 2018. The author Paul Broadfoot asks the same question.
He works on the premise that disruption is a way to increase market size (e.g. make something more accessible to more people), while innovation is used to increase market share (e.g. more people using more of one product over another).
So from a business perspective you may want to be both - a disruptive innovator.
Workplace debates can be enlightening. I often incite a debate if I’m working on a policy resolution.
It helps test out the recommendations we are considering to put forward to government.
Recently, we had a really good in-depth conversation about workforce. What are the challenges?
Where are all the people? How do we find the right fit for the culture in our offices, shops, factories or farms? How do businesses entice consistent productivity from their employees?
For the sake of context, our Chamber office is made up of three millennials, three Gen-Xers and a Baby Boomer (we even had a good debate about that!). So, this article is through that collaborative lens.
At the Chamber’s Business Summit a few weeks ago, we hosted a panel about workforce based on a BDC report titled "Labour Shortage: Here to Stay". The report identifies that workforce growth has declined since 2000, mainly the result of the large baby boom generation heading to retirement. Although immigration has been identified as one of the ways to grow the workforce, growth rates for workforce are expected to remain below 0.2% for the next decade.
The challenge is that one of the main business classes, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), driving the economy is bearing the brunt of the impact of a smaller workforce. The BDC survey supporting the report found that close to 40% of SMEs are already having difficulty finding new workers. The report goes on to identify that this is impacting those businesses in a variety of ways from unfilled client orders, todeclining competitiveness, and deteriorating product/service quality.
Given the above as the base situation, employers can’t sit back; change is afoot. Embracing change with different hiring strategies, developing a value proposition for employees, new operating strategies, and HR policy development will be important.
The research on workforce is also growing and while the BDC report explores the role of employers, a report by RBC entitled “Humans Wanted: How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption” explores the qualities and opportunities for future generations.
The working definition of a skills economy in the RBC report is “a mobile, skilled workforce, constantly learning, training and upgrading to meet the demands of a changing world.” This is a fulsome
definition, but not prescriptive in how that learning is accomplished, which, I would say, is disruptive in itself. The source of constant education can come through on-the job training, returning to school, or working while upgrading and there are a variety of government and non-government programs to access.
The RBC report identifies ten learnings from their research including grouping jobs into six clusters based on essential skills by occupation rather than by industry. Those six clusters are doers, crafters, technicians, facilitators, providers, and solvers. Within these six clusters, RBC identifies that there will be 2.4 million job openings between 2018 and 2021, so the world is a job-seekers’ oyster.
That said, this new way of identifying how one fits into the workforce is different for both employer and employee. Society is starting to fully emerge from the cocoon of decades of a consistent approach to hiring and job expectations. Now, employees are more outwardly vocal about their workplace ideals and employers are more open to creating a more collaborative culture to keep their employees and their productivity high.
During our office workforce discussion, we came to the conclusion that we have to stop applying stereotypes to paint a generation, whether it be millennial, baby boomer, Gen-Xer or whatever. It’s been a difficult transition with the biggest challenge being how these two ideals are defined – what is a good employee and what is a good job. The definition of these concepts can be very individual by person and by sector.
So, what can be done to avoid being trapped by a loose-fitting definition, whether you are a job-seeker or hiring for a position? Openness to possibilities. As an employee, maybe the job isn’t where you want your working life to end, but what are the qualities that could make it a good place to start? As an employer, maybe the pool of people who have applied are not who you were expecting, but what are the qualities in an
employee that are required and who in the pool has those?
Our workforce and businesses are also not trapped by previously held conventions. Success is not solely determined by the length of time with a company. Loyalty to a company is not automatic, but rather something that a business has to earn. Companies have the ability to truly build and define the culture they want to project. Businesses have the opportunity to be leaders and a voice in the communities in which they operate.
It’s a shift. It’s not wrong or right. It’s just different. It’s innovative. It’s a new way of doing things. And we, collectively, need to figure out how to adapt.
To that end, Si Grobler, Member Relations at the Chamber recently posted this to his LinkedIn profile:
"I have read two articles this past week that got me thinking about what businesses can do to help address their staffing concerns (the most common issue I hear from business owners):
The RBC report wraps up with Six Things You Need to Know about the Future of Work. This is a good list for businesses and workforce.
So let’s get moving on adapting and taking the best advantage of our skills.
More details are emerging from the province about how licences for cannabis will be distributed.
The province says that due to a supply shortage of cannabis by federal providers they will not be issuing an unlimited number of licences now that the application process has opened up.
As a result, the province will be "taking steps to ensure that private cannabis retail stores open in phases. In the initial phase up to 25 licences will be issued so operators can open for business on April 1, 2019 and stay open."
To determine which businesses will get the licences, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) will hold a lottery. The lottery will be a temporary solution until production is sufficient.
Recently, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of its members to determine the acceptance level for private cannabis retail stores. We received 100 responses from our membership
with 75% in favour of private-sector license-based stores, 24% were not in favour of this model and 1% did not answer.
We also received just over 30 comments from those who answered the survey. Of those who responded in favour, many felt it was an opportunity to expand the tax base and bring in revenue for the City of
Peterborough. Many also recognized that there was market demand for the product that could still enter our city boundaries even if it was not sold in brick and mortar stores. They also expressed that allowing for storefronts could better keep the market above ground. Of those with concerns location and health impacts were mentioned the most.
At the December 10th council, meeting, while supportive of having the retail stores, councillors had concerns about the lack of a role for municipalities in decisions about location and response time to a license request.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a 5 Minute for Business article on the cannabis market.
"Deloitte has forecasted that Canada’s cannabis market will be worth up to $7.17 billion in sales next year."
The provincial government released its plan in mid-November with the following main regulations:
A minimum distance of 150 metres (approximately 500 feet) between cannabis retail stores and schools, including private and federally-funded First Nation schools off-reserve.
All interested parties will be able to submit an expression of interest form online to the AGCO from January 7 to January 9, 2019. The expressions of interest will be put into a lottery pool for a draw. The draw will be conducted on January 11, 2019, with the results to be posted on the AGCO's website within 24 hours.
Earlier this month, Chamber members at the Chamber AM had the opportunity to hear some tips on how to attract the local shopper from Downtown Business Improvement Area Executive Director Terry Guiel.
He talked about how business can use these tips to earn the trust of their customers.
Tip #1: Remind People to Buy Local
Creating our own business ecosystem of buying local is one way to lead by example. Terry suggested having a policy in place to try and source your purchases locally first. He also suggested offering a local section in your store. Let's toot our own horn.
Tip #2: Show your uniqueness
Think outside the box and showcase how your business is unique. Present your products or offerings in ways that differentiate you from like businesses or consider partnering with other local businesses on a project. Push your limits.
Tip #3: Workshops
Offer seminars for your business or others in your space. This is a way to bring in new customers along with the opportunity to show off your expertise.
Tip #4: Be a personality
Show your personality. You are more likely to build loyalty if your customers know you. Be the face of your business. You can also express yourself through advertising and social media.
Tip #5: Be Nice
It costs nothing. It's also a great way to build trust and get to know your customers. It's an area to involve your staff and ensure a fulsome customer experience.
Tip #6: Be Visible
Use signage that easily expresses your business. You are engaging an audience that is on the move.
Change your window display, if you have one, every three to four weeks. A creative display is a great way to draw in customers.
Tip #7: Have an online storefront
Many customers research products online. Being an online resource for your customers can be helpful. You can tap into online reviews and online is open 24/7.
Thanks, Terry! Happy Holidays!