An enthusiastic roomful of Chamber members enjoyed a heartfelt and engaging presentation by Jonathon Morris, CEO of the BC Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The event, part of The Chamber's Business Leaders Luncheons series, was held at the Parkside Hotel & Spa on Tuesday afternoon. Morris spoke about the benefits of better understanding the psychological health of our workplaces. Many employers in the room noted ongoing efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness and promote safer and more productive organizational cultures.
Morris and Chamber CEO Bruce Williams discussed how businesses can improve their bottom line by taking steps to ensure staff feel safe and supported.
Special thanks to event sponsors Coastal Community Credit Union.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8 has led to a tremendous response from people around the world.
"On behalf of our Chamber members, Board of Directors and Staff we offer sincere condolences to all who are feeling grief and sadness at the passing of Queen Elizabeth," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said in a statement last week. "These historic events bring us together in conversations about the impact the Royal Family and Her Majesty have had on our world and our lives. Her years of service are an inspiration to all who offer their lives to service of others."
Yesterday, the federal government announced it would mark the Queen's death with a national day of mourning on Sept. 19. BC Premier John Horgan followed suit a few hours later noting that the province has "advised provincial public-sector employers to honour this day in recognition of the obligations around federal holidays in the vast majority of provincial collective agreements."
The unplanned closure of schools and public offices will have an impact on many businesses. Staffing could be challenging as parents scramble to arrange child care. People who had appointments booked will also face disruption as they need to reschedule for a later date.
In Greater Victoria, the province is planning to host a procession on Sept. 19, starting at 10:15 am, and travelling from the BC Legislature to Christ Church Cathedral.
People in BC's hospitality industry could be forgiven for stopping to say "cheers" yesterday (Aug. 30), as word spread that government workers were standing down from job action that had threatened vital supply chains.
"The Chamber applauds this decision to let workers stay working in our restaurants, craft breweries and all businesses that depend on the government for access to goods," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Last week, The Chamber was part of a coalition calling for a quick end to this strike and we're happy our voice has been heard."
BC's hospitality and tourism sector brings in more than $22.3 billion in annual revenue. The strike, which began Aug. 15, was affecting the viability of many people whose livelihoods depend on the accommodation, liquor and cannabis retail industries.
The Liquor Distribution Branch Wholesale Operations division has posted an update on plans to meet outstanding orders and get the service back to speed.
Make the most out of your Labour Day long weekend by supporting your fellow Chamber members. Celebrate by enjoying a bite out, a night away from home, or plan an action-packed weekend at these local treasures.
After you enjoy the long weekend, you may be getting ready for the return of the school year and your fall routine. Take advantage of The Chamber's exclusive member-only deals and discounts on quality school and office supplies.
Chamber members can save:
Discover more discounts and savings here.
On Monday, Sept. 5, a shameful moment in Greater Victoria's history will be commemorated with a walk and an official apology.
The ceremony marks the 100th anniversary of the decision to segregate Chinese students up to Grade 7 in Greater Victoria.
On July 27, Alan Lowe, chair of the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society, appeared before the current board of the Greater Victoria school district to ask for a formal apology.
The Chamber is also hoping to formally apologize at this time for the role our organization played in advocating for this discriminatory action.
"I want to acknowledge The Chamber’s role in supporting the racist and non-inclusive statements and practices of that time in our history, and I apologize unequivocally," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "And I promise we will continue working to be welcoming of all businesses so we can better represent the true diversity of our region."
The Chamber was founded in 1863 to promote investment in our region.
"Over the course of our history in Greater Victoria, there were times when we did the wrong thing. We acted with indifference or even encouraged discriminatory practices," Williams said. "This was the case with segregation of Chinese students, which had the insidious intent of making it harder for the Chinese community to live and work here. It was racist and it was wrong 100 years ago."
Today we know that diversity is what makes all of us strong. We also know we need more than just words. To that end, The Chamber has created a committee to promote Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.
Canada's inflation rate was 7.6% in July. That's down slightly from the month earlier but still creates many challenges for businesses. Common questions include how much cost can be passed on to customers, and should wages be increased accordingly?
To try and answer some of these, and to shed some light on the role interest rates play in managing inflation, I hosted a special panel of financial experts:
The discussion was informative and enlightening. I encourage every Chamber member who wants to better understand what's happening with the economy to watch the recording of our conversation. I know it helped me, especially as there are reasons for optimism that aren't always reflected in the media. We're lucky to have Chamber Champions who continue to help us get through every challenge that arises.
CEO, The Chamber
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is preparing to welcome the nine millionth passenger to the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal at Ogden Point. The lucky passenger arrives Friday afternoon.
"Many businesses in Greater Victoria provide services for cruise ships and their passengers, and welcoming the ninth million unique visitor shows how much the work of these businesses has made our region appealing to travellers," Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams said. "As travel opens up around the world, we are proud to see Greater Victoria has earned its place as a preferred destination for cruise ships."
The ten millionth cruise ship passenger is expected in Victoria by 2024.
Word is getting out about the best small cities in Canada. On Monday, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams took part in a Black Press podcast discussing why the City of Victoria and District of Saanich are great places to live and work. The podcast, by Peter McCully, appears on 75 newspaper websites.
"These lists are a lot of fun and there certainly are other Greater Victoria municipalities that could have been included," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Having Victoria place No. 1 and Saanich in the Top 25 does help raise awareness about our region, which attracts visitors, workers and investment."
The Chamber has been effective in our work to keep lines of communication clear between government and the business community. BC's Attorney General David Eby responded to a letter by The Chamber, co-signed by the Surrey Board of Trade and the Alberni Valley and Campbell River and District chambers of commerce.
"We were clear that the Lobbyists Transparency Act as implemented is missing its intended mark," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We support open and transparent government but this is red tape that is casting a chill on many small chambers due to its heavy handed reporting requirements. Threats of fines and public shaming aimed at preventing conflicts of interest are causing collateral damage to non-profits working for the benefit of communities. This flies in the face of the work that chambers do to build connections that enable informed decisions and successful policies."
The Chamber will continue to work with the AG to refine the LTA to better achieve its intended outcomes.
The unseasonable weather has been the major theme of casual conversations this summer. And while it's been a welcome break from the prevalence of pandemic chatter, we can't close the door on COVID yet. Last Thursday, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam reported that "it is reasonable to expect we could see an increase in case numbers in the coming weeks."
The next wave comes during the heart of summer so its impact will be mitigated by the warm weather and the opportunities for gathering outdoors. Immunization, including boosters, is also key to help protect our community. The Chamber is monitoring the situation and will strive to provide Greater Victoria's business community with evidence-based information from reputable sources. We all have the resilience and experience to keep our economy and community moving forward.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce added our voice to calls from the Surrey Board of Trade, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce to rethink new rules that are casting a chill on the traditional role of business as a trusted voice for decision makers. The new rules require communication with government officials to be logged monthly using a multi-step process.
“Chambers of commerce and boards of trade are embedded in the fabric of our communities," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Our mandate is to give voice to business. In healthy communities, the public sector and private sector co-exist in a balance that creates employment and healthy economies and enables sound policies. This isn’t new, but it is being threatened by onerous requirements that miss their target. We are putting historic relationships at risk with this paternalistic red tape that is effectively censuring important conversations.”
The organizations co-authored a letter to Attorney General David Eby requesting that chambers and boards of trade be exempt from the BC Lobbyists Transparency Act.
In 2020, significant changes to BC’s lobbyist registration regime came into effect creating confusion and concern for every business or organization whose role includes communicating with BC government officials.
Read the letter here: Letter: Re: Exempting Chambers and Boards of Trade from BC Lobbyists Transparency Act
The Chamber is meeting with the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on Monday to offer guidance on the next provincial budget.
Chambers have a long history of being the effective voice of business in their communities. We've worked hard to earn the trust of decision makers as we advocate to make a real difference in policies that help business thrive.
"I'm available to our members any time they want to reach out and discuss concerns or seek support," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We don't always see eye to eye with government officials but we're always respectful and do the work needed to show why policies need to be implemented or changed. A robust and vibrant economy is good for business and everyone in our community."
Individuals can also share their views with the committee by filling out an online survey or sending in written comments by 3 pm, June 24.
Greater Victoria's business community has a well-deserved reputation for its compassion and generosity.
The Chamber is hearing from members who want to help people fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine.
"We're connecting with our national chamber network and have reached out to the federal minister of immigration," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We want refugees arriving in Canada to know that Greater Victoria is a welcoming community."
Canada has approved more than 91,000 of the 204,000 applications it has received through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel process. Less than 2,000 will likely be re-located to Vancouver Island. However, those that do will need housing and, in many cases, jobs to help them integrate into our community.
The Chamber is working with our community partners to identify potential opportunities for billets or temporary housing. Employers in Greater Victoria can help by posting any job openings to a special federal job bank for Ukrainian refugees.
"We know many of our members have opportunities for skilled workers and we will do everything we can to try and provide stability for Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homeland through no fault of their own," Williams said.
The arrival of Holland America's 1,200 passenger Koningsdam last Saturday was a welcome sight for Greater Victoria's business community. It was the first time in more than 900 days that a cruise ship had sailed into Ogden Point.
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams was on hand to emcee a welcoming celebration, hosted by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
“Normal isn’t quite a word we can use yet,” Williams said to Global News. “But by seeing things recovering in the sense that we can now gather like we are, and see things coming back like this ship, means we are indeed on the way to recovery, and getting ourselves back to the way were were before, so it’s a great feeling of pride."
The 2022 cruise ship season will see 364 ship calls from now until early November with an anticipated 780,000 passengers.
The Chamber held its 2022 AGM on Tuesday, with about 130 people gathering for our largest in-person event in two years.
Attendees celebrated the success of The Chamber and heard from the Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, about the province's plans for helping the region recover from the pandemic.
Fleming spoke about plans to rebuild and improve roads and other infrastructure damaged by climate events in 2021. The minister also spoke about creating rapid bus corridors in the region, and making the business case for modernizing Belleville Terminal. "The time is now to make that investment," Fleming told the audience.
Other topics that The Chamber has advocated for included investing in a deep water port on Vancouver Island to help BC's supply chain, creating a transit hub at Uptown and investing in shore power at Ogden Point.
Finding and keeping workers starts with connections.
On Monday, The Chamber teamed up with the University of Victoria and the UVic Students’ Society to connect thousands of students with more than 60 employers in Greater Victoria.
About two-thirds of all students at UVic typically work while undertaking their studies. This has traditionally been a key addition to Greater Victoria’s labour force, especially as the region has one of the highest employment rates in the country.
Monday's Hiring Day event attracted 63 employers, ranging from financial institutions to tourism and hospitality businesses.
"We are proud to have a long-standing partnership with The Chamber — students can make a real impact in workplaces across the region, and they are key to supporting the economic recovery in this community. This type of hiring event helps facilitate these important connections,” said Andrea Giles, Executive Director of UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services.
People are showing their support for Greater Victoria's Ukrainian community as their homeland remains under siege by Vladimir Putin's Russian forces. Several thousand people attended a rally at the BC Legislature on Sunday, and The Flag Shop has been working non-stop to try to meet the demand of people wanting the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.
The flag has been displayed in numerous places across the region, including on top of the Hotel Grand Pacific.
As well, the Times Colonist published a pullout Ukraine flag in the print edition of Wednesday's paper.
There is also a growing call to fast-track immigration for people fleeing the Ukraine and looking to start a new life in Canada. The federal government has approved more than 4,000 applications from Ukrainians who were in line to immigrate here. The government also extended temporary status for Ukrainians already in Canada to work, study or visit.
If you're interested in learning more about the situation in Ukraine, the University of Victoria is hosting a free Teach-In tonight at 4:30 pm. UVic experts on Ukraine will help explain what is happening and how to help.
BC Minister of Finance Selina Robinson met with Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members today to address your questions about the province's 2022 Budget, unveiled yesterday.
Minister Robinson expects economic growth even as provincial debt increases.
This year's $71 billion budget is forecast to have a deficit of $5.5 billion, followed by a $4.2 billion deficit in 2023/24. Robinson said the main reasons for the deficits are the anticipated costs of rebuilding damaged transportation infrastructure to withstand future climate events.
Asked whether the province planned to ease the burdens of the EHT — which took $207 million more than anticipated from BC employers last year — or paid sick days, the minister defended the government's current policies. She also acknowledged concerns about linking the minimum wage to inflation and said she will work to make the change as smooth and predictable as possible for business.
Greater Victoria is getting two complex care facilities, though specific locations were not announced. The budget also includes $84 million over three years for planning and capital funding for upgrading the Belleville Terminal.
The tourism sector has been allocated $25 million to help with recovery efforts, though a further $915 million was set aside for potential pandemic-related expenses, including health care costs or economic recovery funding.
Greater Victoria is also in line for numerous “bus and shoulder” expansions to improve regional transit, and money has been earmarked for the transit hub at Uptown in Saanich.
“The Chamber has long advocated for child care as an investment in our economy, and we applaud the province’s commitment to adding 40,000 new spaces within seven years. We also are encouraged by some of the steps to address our lack of housing supply,” Williams said.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce welcomes news from the federal and provincial governments that will boost business in our region.
“I’m not much of a dancer. However, I think many of us are doing a little jig — either in our mind or literally — upon hearing this news,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “The sun is shining a little brighter and the birds are singing a little sweeter today. We are all ready to soar after a long winter of doing what we needed to keep each other safe. Let’s keep moving forward and respect each other as we find our footing and our own pace as we begin to step a little lighter.”
The federal government’s announcement on Tuesday will make it easier for visitors to travel to our destination and enjoy all of the attractions, goods and experiences we have to offer. Starting Feb. 28, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Canada from any country will face easier testing requirements. As well, Transport Canada will allow international flights to return to more Canadian airports starting Feb. 28.
Also, BC’s Provincial Health Officer has updated the timeline for easing restrictions in British Columbia. This is great news for the events industry, fitness centres, dance clubs and organizations such as sports teams that depend on ticket sales.
The province is lifting capacity restrictions on gatherings and events; exercise and fitness; and bars, clubs and restaurants as of 11:59 p.m., Feb. 16.
For now, business will still be required to have COVID-19 Safety Plans. As well, masks and the BC Vaccine Pass are still required in indoor public spaces.
Renowned lawyer Ron Lou-Poy — one of the inaugural inductees into The Chamber's Business Hall of Fame — has died. He was 88.
All of us at The Chamber want to express our deepest condolences to Lou-Poy's family and the many people who were touched by his generous spirit in life.
We are deeply grateful for the role he had in making our community a vibrant, inclusive and caring place to live. We hope the many happy memories of Lou-Poy's well-lived life can soothe some of the sadness.
As a positive step toward being the region's most diverse and influential business association, The Chamber launched a new committee this year. Initially known as the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion, one of its first decisions was to change the committee name to the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advancement (IDEA) Committee.
The committee's mission is to foster diversity and inclusion and break through biases to achieve equity, which will only strengthen our business and community connections.
February marks Black History Month and The Chamber strongly encourages everyone to learn more about the stories, struggles and accomplishments of Black Canadians.
There have been Black communities in BC since 1858. In that year, Nancy and Charles Alexander were one of the first Black families in Greater Victoria. The Alexanders settled on the corner of what is now Douglas and Fisgard streets before relocating to the District of Saanich, where they farmed for 33 years and raised 10 children. Charles built the first school house in the area and served as a school trustee.
Who doesn't love a good chart, especially when they remind us that there's a lot to be optimistic about despite our current uncertainty. Stephen Tapp, chief economist with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, put together his insights on Canada's labour force. Data shows that employment recovery exceeded expectations in 2021, though the Omicron wave will undoubtedly drag down the numbers for the next reporting period. "Even before these restrictions, many small businesses were struggling with rising input costs, labour difficulties and supply chain disruptions," Tapp says.
Once you're done perusing Tapp's charts, you might want to check out Maclean's Chart Week 2022. The national magazine offers a handful of charts showing how Canada's economy is faring in a number of areas.
As we head into the heart of the holiday season, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has put together a wish list for a few of the things we want in 2022:
"Good business builds great community, and we look forward to helping our members connect and grow in 2022," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "We'll continue working on our advocacy efforts to ensure business can get the investments they need to continue leading the way on sustainability, inclusion and resilience."
Let us know what your wish is for the business community in 2022, and how we can help you achieve success in the year ahead.
Supporting your neighbours starts with thinking locally.
“In an effort to help people choose to shop at Greater Victoria retailers this holiday season, The Chamber is putting our money where our mouth is and paying the cost of shipping,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “We all benefit from a strong regional economy and it’s up to each of us to do our part to help with the ongoing recovery.”
Effective immediately, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is encouraging holiday shoppers to choose local. The Chamber will cover the cost of shipping for items purchased from Chamber businesses and delivered by proud Chamber Courier partners.
The last two years have been challenging for retailers, but the forecast is for Canadians to spend more this holiday season. The Retail Council of Canada recently released a survey that shows people are feeling more confident with their finances this year.
Buying online from local retailers is also a good way to support our economic recovery and conserve a little gas by letting someone else do the delivery.
For more information on The Chamber’s Shop #ChamberLocalVicBC campaign, visit our website at victoriachamber.ca and make sure to follow us on social media.
If your business is interested in taking part in this initiative, please email email@example.com right away.
Media Coverage: Shop #ChamberLocalVicBC