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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 20, 2023

In this edition:

Ontario introduces Working for Workers Act, 2023

Today, the Ontario government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2023. In a media release, the Government focused on its decision to strengthen protections for vulnerable and migrant workers. If passed, the Act would establish the highest maximum fines in Canada for businesses and people who are convicted of withholding a foreign national’s passport or work permit.

“Anyone who preys on vulnerable members in our community has no place in our society,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “If you think you’re going to deny someone’s basic human rights by withholding their passport, we’re going to hit your pocketbook, and you will be behind bars for a long time.”

The changes to be introduced will:

  • Allow military reservists job protection when they are deployed to emergency operations inside Canada (even if it’s their first day at a new job), reduce the length of employment required for all other reasons from three months to two months, and expand the reasons for taking reservist leave to include where the employee may need additional time off to recover from physical or mental injuries.
  • Increase the maximum fine that may be imposed on a corporation convicted of an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) from $1.5 million to $2 million. This would give Ontario the highest maximum corporate fines under workplace health and safety legislation in Canada.
  • Give greater certainty to employees starting a new job by proposing regulatory changes to require employers provide employees with information about their job, such as pay, work location and hours of work.
  • Include employees who work solely from home in the count for mass termination provisions.
  • Establish the highest maximum fines in Canada for employers and people who are convicted of taking possession of or retaining a foreign national’s passport or work permit.
  • Introduce further measures to help remove barriers facing internationally trained professionals when seeking registration in regulated professions in Ontario, which includes clarifying that a regulated profession can only accept Canadian experience in satisfaction of a qualification for registration if it also accepts alternatives that meet certain criteria.
  • Introduce new regulatory amendments that will make the skilled trades more accessible to women by ensuring they have access to at least one women’s-only washroom on jobsites and properly fitting equipment such as uniforms, boots and safety harnesses.

Click here to read more.

Replacing Canadian public infrastructure in poor condition will cost $264 billion: Statistics Canada

At the end of 2020, core public infrastructure in Canada, excluding social and affordable housing, had a total replacement value of $2.1 trillion. Roads ($894.2 billion) and bridges and tunnels ($244.7 billion) accounted for over half (52.9%) of the total estimated replacement value, while water infrastructure ($771.8 billion) accounted for more than one-third (35.8%).

The cost to replace all assets rated in poor or very poor condition was estimated at just over 10% of the total replacement value, at $264.7 billion, or $16,252 per private dwelling in Canada. Road infrastructure made up 48.1% of the infrastructure in greatest need of rehabilitation or replacement (in poor or very poor condition), followed by wastewater infrastructure (13.9%) and potable water infrastructure (11.1%).

Municipalities ($1,328.5 billion) owned 61.7% of the total estimated replacement value of core public infrastructure in Canada. Of that amount, more than two-thirds (68.1%) were in urban municipalities.

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Canadian home sales rise in February despite drop in new supply

New statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales were up on a month-over-month basis in February 2023.

Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems posted a 2.3% increase from January to February 2023. Gains were led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in February 2023 came in 40% below an incredibly strong month of February in 2022. The February 2023 sales figure was comparable to what was seen for that month in 2018 and 2019.

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Amazon cuts 9,000 more jobs, bringing 2023 total to 27,000

Amazon plans to eliminate 9,000 more jobs in the next few weeks, CEO Andy Jassy said in a memo to staff on Monday.

The job cuts mark the second largest round of layoffs in the company’s history, adding to the 18,000 employees the tech giant said it would lay off in January. The company’s workforce doubled during the pandemic in a hiring surge seen across almost the entire tech sector.

Tech companies have announced tens of thousands of job cuts this year.

In the memo, Jassy said the second phase of the company’s annual planning process completed this month led to the additional job cuts. He said Amazon will still hire in some strategic areas.

Click here to read more.

CBSA to reopen all NEXUS airport enrolment centres

The CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are delivering on their commitment to reopen all NEXUS enrolment centres in Canadian airports by Spring 2023. This will both expand the program’s capacity and help the thousands of travellers who request NEXUS memberships each month get their cards faster.

Interviews will reopen at Toronto Pearson International Airport on April 24.

This new enrolment option for air travellers has two steps. Canadian airport enrolment centres will be staffed with CBSA officers who will complete the Canadian portion of the NEXUS interview, and the U.S. interviews are completed by CBP at Canadian airport preclearance locations when applicants depart Canada to fly to the U.S. Conditionally-approved NEXUS applicants and renewing members who require an interview will be able to book the Canadian portion of their interview at one of these airports through the Trusted Traveller Programs scheduler as interview times become available.

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Niagara Region Emergency Management wins grant for severe weather programming

Niagara Region Emergency Management has been announced as one of four successful applicants for the ImpactWx Genesis Grant for the “Weather Aware & Prepared” initiative.

“Weather Aware & Prepared” is in partnership with the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society as well as the Niagara Safety Village. The grant will allow for the development of a severe weather education program for children that will be delivered at the Niagara Safety Village in Welland. Using research and best practices, kids will be empowered to keep themselves and their families safe from severe weather.

Click here to read more.

Niagara Falls encourages residents and businesses to observe Earth Hour 2023

Earth Hour is an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and communities around the globe to unite in a powerful call to action for a better, healthier planet. The City of Niagara Falls is encouraging residents and businesses to participate in Earth Hour by turning off non-essential lighting for one hour, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

The City will be turning off non-essential lighting at City facilities and encourages residents and businesses to do the same. Street lights and lighting essentials, for safety, will not be included. The nightly illumination of Niagara Falls will pause in support of the climate change initiative.

Residents can visit to view various ways to take part in Earth Hour.

Click here to read more.

Niagara Health marks ten years of service at St. Catharines site

The closing of the St. Catharines General Hospital and official opening of the St. Catharines Site (SCS) on March 24, 2013, was a monumental and well-orchestrated effort years in the making.

The opening of the SCS meant Niagara residents wouldn’t have to travel out of region for a number of treatments. New and enhanced regional programs were introduced, changing how care was delivered, and enabled us to advance technology and recruit and retain staff and physicians.

“It has always been very clear to me what the SCS has meant to everyone across the region,” says Lynn Guerriero, President and CEO. “A hospital is about so much more than physical buildings. It’s about the people delivering care inside those walls, the programs they facilitate and the patients our teams provide compassionate care for.”

Click here to read more.

Thorold becomes latest government to ban TikTok

Effective from March 17, 2023, the City of Thorold has banned the use of TikTok on the City’s internet network at City facilities.

Residents who are visiting City facilities, including Allanburg Community Centre, Battle of Beaverdams Park, City Hall, Darlene Ryan Port Robinson Community Centre, Lakeview Cemetery, Lock 7 Viewing Centre, Thorold Community Arenas and Thorold Public Library will not be able to access TikTok on their devices while connected to the City’s internet.

Click here to read more.

Walker wins 6 community relations awards in 2023, bringing total to 14

Fourteen times, Walker Aggregates Inc. and Walker Brothers Quarry have received a community relations award from the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA).

This year alone, the company won six.

A release from the OSSGA said the award recognizes companies that have shown exceptional leadership in promoting good neighbour relations, community involvement, education, and industry awareness.

Norm Cheesman, executive director of OSSGA, said this year’s award winners have surpassed expectations.

“OSSGA promotes excellence among its members by encouraging them to efficiently run their operations, responsibly manage the land they work on, and actively participate in and contribute to their communities,” he said.
Click here to read more.

Indigenous communities leading Canada’s clean energy boom

A 2020 report by national not-for-profit organization Indigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise identified 197 medium-to-large renewable energy generating projects with Indigenous involvement, either in operation or in the final stages of planning and construction.

While the group’s 2023 data has not yet been released publicly, executive director Chris Henderson said many additional projects have come online in the last two-and-a-half years — everything from solar and wind to hydro to geothermal.

In fact, he said Indigenous communities are so heavily involved in clean energy that they now own, co-own, or have a defined financial benefit agreement in place for almost 20 per cent of Canada’s electricity generating infrastructure.

Click here to read more.

U.S. bank crisis ‘unlikely’ to spill over to Canada, analysts say

Canada’s top six lenders have ample liquidity and manageable credit risks which will help them to emerge largely unscathed from the crisis of confidence that has rocked the global banks over the last two weeks, analysts said on Monday.

The collapse of two the U.S. regional banks- the Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank this month –and the Swiss government-brokered deal for UBS to buy Credit Suisse has raised concerns about the health of global banking sector.

“The U.S. contagion is unlikely to spill over to Canadian banks as the issues in U.S. are unique and specific to certain business models or lending activities,” said James Shanahan, banking analyst with Edward Jones to Reuters.

Click here to read more.

Focus on Small Business

Why some in Canada’s tech industry are feeling jittery after Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday had Canadian tech companies working to quickly withdraw their assets from the crumbling institution.

The California-based bank’s collapse marked the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history, with collateral effects rippling across the tech and banking sectors through the weekend and into this week as U.S. and Canadian regulators scrambled to minimize the damage.

“You’re sitting there hitting refresh throughout the afternoon to see if the money has hit your other bank accounts. And then when it finally does, that’s a big weight off your shoulders,” said Kris Hartvigsen, the CEO of Vancouver-based tech startup Dooly, which held its U.S. accounts with SVB.

The financial institution held over $200 billion US in assets. It was the preferred banking partner of many Canadian tech startups, due to its nimbleness and because its ubiquitous use across the sector made transfers between companies and their clients easier to process, according to Hartvigsen.

Click here to read more.

Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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