Friday, July 24, 2015

Aurora Chamber Updates from Judy Marshall,CEO - July 27, 2015



The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) became law on June 13, 2005. This legislation was developed to remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities in key areas of living. These standards, now regulations under the Act, apply to both the private, non-profit and public sectors in Ontario. 

We recently received a guide with reminders of where businesses should be with their compliance and where they must be in terms of accessibility by 2025. 

Please find the guide here:


This is a reminder that the government has mandated Health and Safety Training in the following areas:

  • AODA – Customer Service Standard
  • AODA – Integrated Accessibility Standards
  • Accident Investigation
  • Supervisor Competency
  • Work Refusal
  • Worker Awareness Training
  • Workplace Violence and Harassment – Managers and Workers
The Chamber has provided training on accessibility standards in the past and will offer them again, if you there is interest. Please email

On-line Training is available in all of the above areas through an Aurora Chamber member. 


In June we offered First Aid and CPR through FAST Rescue, a Chamber member. Comments from those who attended were very positive. They even had a visit from first responders who spoke to them about their role with the training they had just received and the responsibility of the first responders. This is really important information – it could save the life of a loved one!

Training in Human Resources
The Chamber will be offering a series of nine seminars and workshops designed to help employers to skillfully navigate their most challenging people issues. The first workshop (add title) will be offered on Thursday October 22, 2015 from 8:30 – 10:00. Registration is required. 

The presenter will be Jodi Zigelstein-Yip from Williams HR Consulting. Jodi spoke at the Chamber’s Women’s Luncheon in October 2014, leaving people wanting more. She is a highly skilled speaker and HR professional. 


The Chamber is working with Vivien Cheng, a payroll expert to present a lunch and learn series on topics such as finding efficiencies in payroll that will positively impact the bottom line, what to look for when outsourcing to a payroll provider and more. Watch for further information.


Questions about your workplace technology? The Chamber is planning a Tech Expo on Thursday, November 5 that will help you find the answers. There will be exhibitors, speakers, workshops and a panel of experts that will be there to help you. Come to the event for a few hours and return when something is scheduled that will interest you!  It’s a hands on, educational event!


We have additional training ideas that will be announced over the next few months. If there is training that is needed by you or your staff, please let us know. Please email Sandra Watson with your requests at:

Judy Marshall, CEO
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
905-727-7262 Ext. 33

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Aurora Chamber Updates from Judy Marshall, CEO - May 2015

Thank you, again!

We have circulated many notes of appreciation about the Aurora Chamber Home Show that was held in April, but once again we would like to express our gratitude for all the support from the sponsors, exhibitors and volunteers. We continue to hear positive feedback from members who are ecstatic about the real business that was generated from the show. “This wasn’t a tire-kicking show,” one exhibitor said, “people were out to spend money and they followed through. Participating was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.” 

Educational Sessions - Human Resources

In response to many requests from members, we will be introducing a series of human resources workshops starting in June and ending in March or April 2016. We will be confirming dates shortly. Some of the topics will include: 
  • The Basics of HR Compliance: What you really need to know?
    This is an essential workshop for all employers regardless of whether you have one employee or many.
  • Engaging your Employee Base to Drive Results 
  • Managing Performance
  • Managing Terminations and Resignations
The sessions will be presented by Jodi Zigelstein, Williams HR Consulting and/or Laura Williams, LLB, Williams HR Law. Both Jodi and Laura are excellent and engaging speakers. 

Don’t Forget

  • Aurora Chamber Street Festival – Sunday, June 7
    There are a few booths still available but we are close to being sold out!
  • Aurora Chamber Golf Tournament – Thursday, June 25
    This is a GREAT networking event. It will be held at Silver Lakes Golf & Conference Centre.

ORPP – Another burden for business?

As hard as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and its affiliated Chambers have worked against the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), it is a go! 

The Plan will require employers and employees to contribute 1.9 percent of an employee’s yearly earnings per year, to a maximum of $90,0000. According to a survey conducted by the OCC, only one in four businesses in Ontario can afford the costs associated with the new plan, while 44 percent have indicated that they will reduce payroll or hire fewer employees in order to respond.

The government is committed to establishing a body (ORPP Administration Corporation) that will be charged with administering the plan and investing contributions. It is expected that the ORPP will be established by January 1, 2017. 

Increasing Electricity Rates

Aurora Chamber members have often told us that one of the greatest financial challenges for their businesses is out-of-control electricity rates.  According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), increasing electricity rates are the number one factor effecting a business’s ability to compete. An OCC survey suggests four percent of businesses will either shut their doors and/or move in the coming years due to rising rates.

An article written by The Canadian Press (CP) in December 2013 indicated that Ontario electricity rates were expected to keep rising. CP warned businesses that their bills could jump almost 50 percent in the next three years under the long-term energy plan. 

In the 2015 Ontario Government budget, the government announced an initial public offering (IPO) of approximately 15 percent of the common shares in Hydro One with additional share sales in subsequent years totalling up to 60 percent of the Province’s common shares. Even though funds from the sale of the shares are earmarked for the Trillium Trust Act and will be used to support the Province’s key infrastructure priorities such as highways, bridges and public transit, $5 billion will be used to pay down the utility’s debt. 

In response to concerns over the impact on electricity rates, the government has committed to ensuring that sales of a portion of Hydro One will not lead to higher rates. 

Annual Employment Survey

York Region will again conduct its annual door-to-door employment survey of all businesses that have a physical presence in the Region. During the months of May through August businesses can participate in the survey when an employment surveyor visits. Home –based businesses can submit business information online at: You may also communicate via telephone or email.  

The survey data is used to:
  • Monitor local economic trends
  • Analyze and market local business sectors
  • Form business attraction and retention strategies
  • Forecast future transit and infrastructure needs
  • Create business directories
Sensitive information will be used internally and will be kept confidential. According to York Region, “Your business counts!” You are encouraged to participate. 

One Book One Aurora 

. . . is back for the second summer. The book this year is Burmese Lessons by award- winning author Karen Connelly. Visit for further information on the book and author as well as dates for supporting events and an opportunity to contribute to the discussions. 

Enjoy the warm weather. Watch for the next Update the second week of June. 

Judy Marshall, CEO
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
905-727-7262 Ext. 33

Monday, April 20, 2015

Aurora Chamber Updates from Judy Marshall, CEO - April 2015

Thank you to Chamber Volunteers

It is just over a week since the opening of the Aurora Chamber Home Show. It was a great event because of our sponsors, the dedication and support of the exhibitors, volunteers who worked in the ticket booth and assisted in the Feature Areas, The Optimists who ran the Chamber Pub and Grill and the unstoppable enthusiasm and energy from staff and committee members. The committee members include: Robin Taylor-Smith of The Partnership Network, Diane Buchanan of The Auroran, Janice Clements of Clements Interiors, George Hughes of Lifestyle Windows Inc., Bob Ince of The Auroran, Brian North of Ellis Studios and Jack Roeleveld of Jack’s Landscaping.

The Home Show and many other chamber events would never happen without people who give freely of their time and expertise. I mean this sincerely – we couldn’t do what we do without volunteers. Thank you for all you do for the Chamber and many other organizations in Aurora.

People volunteer for many reasons – to give back, feel needed, initiate change, be challenged, build a resume and on and on. Most of my volunteer work is giving back in terms of knowledge and experience by serving on non-profit and charitable boards of directors and committees. Earlier in my life, I volunteered with children and the youth at my church, schools, theatres and sports activities, places where my son hung out. I always saw the time I spent as an exchange – I was new to Ontario and wanted to get involved and they needed support to continue with their programming. I continued until my son moved on to other things (cars and girls).

Recognizing volunteers for their contribution to the Chamber has been on my priority list for a couple of years. It should be are an integral part of the Chamber as it shows how important their contributions are to the organization’s success. I have put it off citing time and lack of staff resources, but it is so important. I have often found that lack of recognition is the single most stated reason why people leave volunteer and, often, paid positions. We need volunteers and have to make sure we do a better job at recognizing them so we can retain them and attract new ones. Watch for further information.

Calling Volunteers . . .
The Chamber always needs volunteers to help out on an event-only basis, on committees such as the Advocacy and Government Relations and Membership and Marketing Committees and the Board of Directors.

The Chamber has a new challenge and we need you help! For those with great ideas and planning skills - we have to find, develop and execute a new big event, likely to be held annually in the fall each year. Interested? We want your ideas and participation. Please call me at 905-727-7262 or

In case you have missed it . . .
On April 21, 2015, Google will change the way searches on their site are done. From that date forward, websites that are “mobile friendly” or “responsive” will be given a much higher priority in searches made from mobile devices such as tablets and phones.  Websites that are already mobile or “friendly”, claim that they have experienced an improvement of 40 percent or more in searches. Those that are not can anticipate a reduction of 45 percent or more in search results after that date.

As many as 90 percent of all Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB's) do not have mobile "friendly" websites. In one US Study, it was found that SMB's there believe they are losing approximately $60,000 per year in revenue/sales while in the UK, SMB's believe they are losing $40,000 US$. This is before the change that Google will make in a weeks’ time. Very little data exists for the Canadian marketplace.

The Chamber has had some discussion with the Guild for Intelligence-based Commerce (GIBC) to find out additional information about how this pending change will affect Canadian SMB's in the GTA.  Contact your web master if you have questions. As we learn more, we will keep you up to date.

Training in Human Resources Coming Soon...
In response to requests from a number of members, the Chamber is scheduling a series on Human Resources. At this time, we are reviewing nine modules, each 1.5 hours in length that could be presented from May 2015 to March 2016 (nothing scheduled for July and August). The proposed topics include:
The Basics of HR Law Compliance: What you really need to know
Attracting Talent
Recruiting and Selecting Top Talent
Onboarding Employees to your Organization
Engaging your Employee Base to Drive Results
Managing Performance
Developing your Talent
Strategies for Retaining your Best and Brightest
Managing Terminations and Resignations

Let us know if you are interested. You don’t have to attend all the sessions; just those that are relevant to your business. We are working on the details such as price and location and would really like to find out if there still is an interest.

For further information . . .
A number of members have been asking me about the Ontario Government’s proposal to introduce a cap and trade system. I have tried to explain it but . . .  for more information go to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Rapid Policy Update: How Cap and Trade Works.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Aurora Chamber Updates from Judy Marshall, CEO - March 2015


The Aurora Chamber of Commerce opposes the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) in its current format. We acknowledge that for those who do not have a workplace pension plan, there could be an under saving issue related to retirement. Like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), we question whether the government's solution is the correct or most effective one, most especially when there are so many small businesses struggling to survive as the cost of doing business in Ontario, continues to rise. These increasing costs are related to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board rates, increasing utility prices, ongoing regulatory burdens and every day operational expenses.

The Aurora Chamber views that the mandatory contributions to ORPP by employers and employees will not only reduce consumer spending but increase operating costs for those businesses and entrepreneurs who are already struggling financially.

The OCC reported that survey results reveal that, if the ORPP is enacted in its current form, 44 percent of employers will reduce their current payroll and/or hire fewer employees.

The Chair of the Aurora Chamber Board supports the recommendation from OCC that local businesses strongly urge the government to revise its definition of "comparable" workplace pension plans. "There are other options for retirement savings," concurs Patricia Poulin-Ulbricht, "that need to be encouraged, but a plan that is a burden to small business is not the answer."

A Sunday, March 8 Newmarket Era story features reactions from The Newmarket and Aurora chambers of commerce to the current, proposed ORPP format.

If you would like additional information, the OCC and the Certified General Accountants of Ontario (CGA Ontario) partnered to consult with employers on these proposals. Read the report on this consultation that will provide you with additional information.

The Ontario Government has a document available on-line entitled Ontario Retirement Plan:Key Design Questions.


Did you know that effective April 21, 2015, Google will begin using a new algorithm to exclude websites that are not designed to be "mobile friendly". This will have significant impact on mobile searches worldwide just as these are predicted to surpass desktop searches in 2015. The Aurora Chamber of Commerce is doing research through one of its members and will have ongoing updates. Watch for them!

Judy Marshall, CEO
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
905-727-7262 Ext. 33

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Aurora Chamber Updates from Judy Marshall, CEO - February 2015


There has been a lot of discussion at local and provincial chambers about the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) introduced by the Ontario government in December 2014, with plans to establish it in 2017. Both employers and employees will be required to contribute 1.9 percent of wages to a maximum of $90,000 unless they have a “comparable plan” in place. A “comparable plan” has not been defined. This is concern for some of the Chamber’s membership, especially those involved with financial planning or members who are already contributing to a workplace savings plan. Contributions by the employer and employee would be mandatory and would be in addition to the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) premiums.

The government will also introduce legislation on Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) in 2014. These are a new form of tax-assisted individual retirement plans for workers without employer-sponsored pension plans.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) conducted a survey and found that 72 percent of members feel that pension reform should be a provincial priority and 86 percent of members supported PRPPs that would be managed by regulated financial service providers. Only 23 percent said they could afford additional employers premiums.

If you would like additional information, the OCC and the Certified General Accountants of Ontario (CGA Ontario) partnered to consult with employers on these proposals. Read the report on this consultation that will provide you with additional information.

The Ontario Government has a document available on-line entitled Ontario Retirement Plan:Key Design Questions.

The Aurora Chamber is concerned about the impact the ORPP could have on small business. What do you think?

Watch for a big change coming with the spring 2015 issue. We would really appreciate your feedback. Some adverting is still available in this issue. Please contact Lorie Butkus-Hill at 905-727-7262 Ext. 22 or for amazing Annual Value Package deals.

As a membership association, the Chamber is always looking for new ways to provide you, the members with value-added services and supports. Plans are being made to increase the educational opportunities to help you become an even better employee or employer. For example, late last year we met with a human resources firm that will be offering workshops this spring and fall to cover topics such as employee retention, conflict resolution, employment laws related to hiring and releasing staff, Ontario mandatory health and safety training and other subjects as identified by members. Do you have a topic related to human resources that you would like to learn more about? Let us know and we will try our best to fit them in.

The Chamber recently consulted with a small group of members to ask for their input and advice and to brainstorm ideas. The Chamber has been sending reports back to this group and will send the final report to all members in early March with a request for your input. We will listen and react to as many ideas as we can over the next few years. This is important information for the Chamber board and staff as we plan for the next few years and well into the future. We need your help!

Judy Marshall, CEO
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
905-727-7262 Ext. 33