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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

GNCC obtains Ontario Chamber support for Canadian retailers

Between May 4th and 7th, 103 Chambers of Commerce from across Ontario gathered in Sarnia for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM. The gathering represented 60,000 organizations, 2 million employees, and 17 per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

The caucus overwhelmingly approved a resolution on keeping the existing De Minimis threshold, submitted by the GNCC in partnership with the Windsor-Essex, Sarnia-Lambton and Thunder Bay Chambers of Commerce.

Levying duties, taxes and excise on every single item that enters Canada would be very expensive in terms of the bureaucracy and infrastructure required, so a floor is set for the value of imported goods below which no duties or taxes are collected. This is the De Minimis rate.

Currently, De Minimis is set at $20 in Canada.

67 per cent of Canadian consumers purchase goods online from non-Canadian retailers already. At a proposed $200 De Minimis, there would be an enormous increase in online purchases from foreign vendors for items such as apparel, footwear, books, toys, consumer electronics and housewares, most of which would be priced below $200 and are easy to ship.

This would be very hard on Canadian retailers offering these products, already facing difficulties against online retailers and cheap imports from Asia from web portals such as, now the world’s largest retailer and generating more gross merchandise volume than and eBay combined.

Recent years have been very hard for Canadian retailers, with closures including not just independent stores, boutiques, and small businesses but even major retail chains like Target Canada (and Zellers, who sold their stores to Target first), Sony, Jacob, Laura, Smart Set, Danier Leather, and Mexx. A major reason for their distress is fierce online competition.

Statistics Canada reports that wholesale and retail trade is the single largest source of jobs in Niagara by far, employing almost 35,000 people in 2015. Raising the De Minimis would cause closed businesses and lost jobs in this hugely important industry.

After advocacy efforts from the GNCC, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce will work to keep the De Minimis threshold where it is, and to protect these jobs in our community and our country.


“Retail is a hugely important industry for Niagara, providing more jobs than any other. It was imperative for us that we act to protect this increasingly vulnerable group of employers and to preserve local jobs. Recruiting the support of our peers in Ontario’s Chamber network and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is a big step towards protecting our retailers.”

– Mishka Balsom, President and CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce



For more information, please contact:
Mishka Balsom, President & CEO of GNCC or 905-684-2361

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