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Volume 2, No. 6 February 2012 FREE

Your business:

Are you happy in your work? Your home:

Impatient to grow up Your health:

Go smoke free

Stefanie Coleman-Dias, John Dias and their son Alex Family and work times three Cover story: page 3

Incorporating St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce

Special features: • Your Investments • Junior Achievement Month




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February, 2012

PUBLISHER’S LETTER Lessons from a 90-year-old blind man by Terry Carroll 4

BUSINESS / COMMUNITY Leadership Break the chains by Bryan Vine 5

Your Business We are lucky to be Canadian by John Regan 6

Technology Surf online to help you go surfing for real by Peter Atkinson 7

Self Development Are you happy in your work? by Sharon Lechner 8

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT MONTH Volunteer Profile Real world experience by Dorothy Gebert 22

About JA Junior Achievement makes a difference 23

DINING & ENTERTAINMENT Savour Elgin Steed and Company Lavender by Kate Burns 24

Wine & Food Vertical to horizontal by Jamie Quai 25



Chamber to host area mayors 9

Legal Business

Impatient to grow up by Elizabeth VanHooren 26

Eric and Lola by Monty Fordham 10

At Home In Elgin

Chamber News

It’s never been a better time to buy a house by Brian Lippold 27

Free Enterprise Award nominations now being accepted 11

Member News Engage and Inspire by Bob McNaughton 12

HEALTHY LIVING Everyday Health

Chamber News

Are painkilling drugs the only way to treat chronic pain? by Dr. Greg Johnson 28

Get ready to rock!! 13

Personal Health

Positive Exposure

Go smoke free by Jessica Lang 29

It is all about selling – it’s just called something else by Allan 14

Pro Text Out-of-country travel insurance by Dan Reith 15

New Members

LIFESTYLES Time On My Hands Bathtub inspires brain wave by Duncan Watterworth 30

Welcome New Members 16

YOUR INVESTMENTS TFSAs Saving for retirement? by Stephanie Farrow 18

RRSPs Don’t make these 10 common RRSP mistakes by JoAnn Pay 19

Choosing the right investment TFSA or RRSP? by Ellen Luft 20

Cover Story

Family and work times three Stefanie Coleman-Dias, John Dias and their son Alex are Coleman-Dias3 by Dorothy Gebert

If Stefanie Coleman-Dias and John Dias hadn’t had a child in 2004, they may never have moved to St. Thomas and started a business. That’s why they included their son in the name of their company, ColemanDias3 Construction Ltd. “I loved my job as a fashion buyer and John worked in road construction,” Stefanie said, “but they were jobs that were not conducive to family life. We wanted to be self-employed and work together.” So they moved from Winnipeg in 2005 to St. Thomas where Stefanie had family connections. Their backgrounds in construction and design inspired them to start a business focusing on renovations, additions and outdoor living. Stefanie takes care of management, marketing, accounting, quoting and design, while John is in charge of site work and construction. “He’s Portuguese – that explains it all,” said Stefanie, laughing. “John grew up helping his dad in the home building trade and learned the old ways of working without all the fancy equipment.” Coleman-Dias3 has been slowly growing for the last seven years, becoming known for its quality workmanship and creativity. It has regularly won awards at the St. Thomas Elgin Home Builders’ Association Golden Hammer Awards, including Renovator of the Year for the last four years. Stefanie recently took on the position of president at the St. Thomas Elgin Home Builders’ Association and is looking forward to the direction the company and the industry is taking. “We’ve learned that with a lot of hard work, you can do anything,” she said. And what about Alex, the third member of the company? He’s seven years old now and sometimes attends client meetings or goes on product sourcing trips with his mother. “He’s not on the job site, but he’s getting familiar with the process,” said Stefanie.

Retirement Savings Saving for retirement takes a back seat by Raymond Bosveld 21

Carroll Publishing President Terry Carroll Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Kelly Carroll

Cover photo by Philip Bell, Shutter Studios

Elgin This Month Publisher Terry Carroll Editor Dorothy Gebert Section Editor Business Beat – Bob Hammersley

Graphic Design / Production Jim McHarg Sales Representative Greg Minnema Office Manager Laura Bart

Elgin This Month is a monthly magazine focusing on business and lifestyle issues and includes Business Beat, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce newsletter. The publication is available for pickup at no charge at news stands and other locations around Elgin County, as well as distribution to businesses and selected households.

Published monthly by Carroll Publishing, 15 St. Catharine Street, St. Thomas, ON N5P 2V7 519-633-1640 February, 2012






Lessons from a 90-year-old blind man Business inspiration can come from the oddest places by Terry Carroll

Last year, I read about a blind man in his early nineties who lived by himself in a New York apartment, doing 24 push-ups a day, and I don’t remember how many sit-ups. Let’s say 30. Reading the piece was some kind of seminal moment. I thought about the facts. I was not in my nineties. My sight was still reasonably good. I could do about five traditional push-ups in a row, and I hadn’t tried a sit-up in a very long time. I decided to do some push-ups and situps every second day. (As you enter the third trimester of your life, it’s wise to be wary of injuries.) Within a couple of months, I was able to do eight push-ups in a row and fifteen sit-ups. (Arnold Schwarzenegger, look out!) My back was giving me trouble, so I added some padding to the hardwood floor. More trouble ensued. I decided my tailbone just did not like these full sit-ups so I switched to what I believe are called crunches. The back prob-

Inspiration means nothing without a plan of action

lem cleared up, and I can now do as many crunches as a 90-year-old in New York City and 15 push-ups in a row on a good day. The point of all this, for those of you in business, is neither that I am Mr. Fitness (which, of course, I am not), nor that I expect anyone to care about whether I can do one push-up or 100. Rather, I think there are



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some parallels to some things entrepreneurs face every day. We do need a goal or a vision or an objective. Some business writers make a big deal about separating out what each of these might mean, but I don’t particularly care. Some of the inspiration for that goal comes from inside you, but excellent outside stimulus can make a lot of difference. And you can’t predict when inspiration will arise or where it will come from. It’s good to read and listen and view as widely as possible. (I encountered the blind man in his nineties in a newspaper article where his fitness program was not the main point of the story.) Inspiration means nothing without a plan of action. Those of us who are drawn to ideas and love long-term projects find this particularly difficult. Our creative side wants to dwell at the level of heavenly inspiration, but we need to get back down to earth and kick ourselves into action. Results often come slowly. Some of the literature makes business success seem like a trip to the mountain-top.



We return with the tablets of stone, all our staff are immediately inspired and we go on to enormous business and personal achievement. Not so fast there, Jack. Expect results that quickly, and you will usually be disappointed. (There are exceptions, but there’s a reason they’re called exceptions.) In short, business success, like fitness results, comes over the long haul, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. Oh, yes, and the parallel between my back discomfort and business? If something ain’t workin’, recognize it for what it is, and find a way to change it.

Terry Carroll is the publisher of the St. Thomas /Elgin Weekly News and Elgin This Month.

February, 2012


Break the chains Admitting your business has problems is the first step to making it better by Bryan Vine

pride, shame or ignorance, this sad condition has been kept hidden in the corner office for too long. Starting now, you should not have to endure this much discomfort and frustration associated with your business. You do not have to live this way! You should not be consumed by your business and frustrated with your life. Stop and think why in the world, as the owner, should you have to touch every transaction, be involved with every decision, and help solve every problem, or handle everybody’s job in some fashion? You shouldn’t! It doesn’t make sense.

dysfunctional businesses and owners are the rule, not the exception

Something is broken! You cannot succeed alone. You don’t have enough hours in a day or enough energy or bandwidth to go it alone. Pain is a good indication that something is wrong and needs to be healed! Realize that you aren’t the only one

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suffering. Think about how your stress and blues are negatively impacting your employees, customers, vendors/suppliers, friends and if applicable, your spouse and kids. Hear this wake-up call! It is time to shift radically your business beliefs and behavior. It is time to expand your view of new possibilities for managing your business and life. The better your business functions, the better your life will function. You deserve to be free from the daily grind; after all, you own a business, not a job. You should actually enjoy the journey of developing and running a business and not defer your personal life and happiness until you retire or sell. Live life now! Do not get so caught up in making a living that you forget to make a life. If your personal life is suffering because of your company, either your leadership approach is misguided or your business design is broken, maybe both! At this point, simply admit that your business centres on you and is totally dependent upon you. Admit that you are buried up to your eyeballs in details of the business. Admit that you are a slave to your business. Admit that instead of your business giving you greater life, it continues to drain more of your personal time and peace-of-mind. Admit that while your headaches and hassles grow, your freedom shrinks.


It is time to face reality! You and your business have some problems that require some solutions. Very simply, you can’t change what you do not openly acknowledge. Identifying and admitting a problem goes a long way towards solving it. To begin the transformation and healing process, you need to do some serious reflection. Be brutally honest when you answer these questions: • Do I often question, “Why do I have to do every darn thing myself ”? • Am I still working too much and making too little? • Am I trapped working “in” my business instead of “on” my business? • Do I ever wonder if business ownership is truly worth the time, effort, headaches, hassles and sacrifices? • Do I go home many nights feeling mentally and physically drained? • Do I confuse busyness with accomplishment? • Do I dread the drudgery of facing and solving the same issues and problems each and every day – the burden of re-creating the wheel time and time again? • Do I daydream about regaining my sense of freedom, joy, passion and peace-of-mind? • Am I fed up with missing family time, family events and making other personal sacrifices on a semi-regular basis? • Do I crave more free time to do the things that matter most to me? Admit to the problem If you answered yes to most of these questions, don’t feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed. You are not alone. Most owners have never learned to be strategic. Role models are scarce. As such, dysfunctional businesses and owners are the rule, not the exception. Like you, most owners feel that they have been sentenced to a life of servitude and some even suffer from the blues. Unfortunately, because of

Bryan Vine is co-owner of The Growth Coach in St. Thomas.

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We are lucky to be Canadian Inspiration from Dr. Sherry Cooper for our economic times by John Regan

“Bottom line: We are lucky to be Canadian.” Those were the words that caught my attention when reading one of the latest articles from Sherry S. Cooper, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group. The statement definitely made me stop for a moment. In a time when there is a lot of grumbling and complaining about the economy, loss of jobs, government spending, community apathy and failing businesses, Dr. Cooper believes that, “Unlike most other developed economies, we have some ammo left and the good sense to know when, and if, to use it.” Dr. Cooper is no economic novice. She received the Lawrence Klein Award for U.S. forecasting accuracy in 2010, beating out a panel of 50 economists predicting the four-year period from 2006 to 2009, a period which encompassed the U.S. housing bubble, financial crisis, recession and re-

covery. Canada’s national newspaper calls Dr. Cooper “the megawatt celebrity economist.” She leads a highly respected team of economists and has been repeatedly cited as one of the most influential women in Canada. “Entrepreneurship is thriving in Canada, although much can be done to develop a deeper venture capital market,” states Dr. Cooper. Venture capital is critical to the Canadian economy. Venture capital investors are the few institutions and individuals who are willing to invest in small start-ups with no proven track record. In 2000, $5.9 billion was invested in 1,007 Canadian startups, according to Thomson Reuters. Last year, just $1.1 billion was raised by 357 Canadian firms. Industry Canada’s 2010 State of Entrepreneurship in Canada Report found that, “Entrepreneurship is a powerful force driving innovation, productivity, job creation and economic growth. Countries with a high

Bryan Vine is pleased to announce Gordon Hall has joined our team at the Growth Coach! Gordon brings extensive coaching and mentoring experience to businesses across Canada and has been a coach in the community for many years.

Entrepreneurship is thriving in Canada

level of entrepreneurial activity tend to be better off economically.” The report also states, “ The fate of entrepreneurial firms is at least partially determined by characteristics of the business environment, such as access to finance, access to international agreements and consumer spending power, that individual entrepreneurs have little control over.” Taking Dr. Cooper’s message to heart, imagine what economic shape we could be in if there was enough local support and venture capital for all new businesses. If we accept Dr. Cooper’s optimism, is it now the time for the rest of us to uphold the signs of life in our economy? Is it time for those that can make a difference by supporting local businesses and local economic recovery to step forward? It does seem more prevalent and defi-

nitely more printable to hear about the doom and gloom tales, but if we accept and support the idea of a positive economic report, let’s now share those accounts that encourage the growth of our region through community involvement and economic investment initiatives. Let’s tell the stories that will revitalize our spirit, our workforce and our community. I say now is the time!

John Regan Ec.D. (F) is the general manager of the Elgin Business Resource Centre.

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February, 2012


Surf online to help you go surfing for real Countless sites are now available on the Internet to help you plan your vacation by Peter Atkinson

One of the areas where the Internet has excelled is in travel. While there’s no substitute for a good travel agent, there are lots of excellent tools to help you prepare and even book a trip online. You’re probably familiar with Hotwire, Travelocity and Orbitz. These sites act like travel agents, searching prices from a wide range of airlines or hotels. While in theory these all use the same source, it’s worth checking more than one as prices can vary. In one recent search, only one of them found a flight on WestJet that was over $100 less than the next lowest fare. Priceline also offers deals but with a twist; travellers sets their price and hotels bid for their business. The challenge is that you don’t always know which hotel you’re getting until you book. BiddingTraveler lets you figure out your best strategy to get the hotel you want based on what you want to pay. lets you book hotels but has a frequent stay program; you get a free night for every ten that you book at any hotel. LuxuryLink focuses exclusively on upscale hotels. It’s certainly not cheap, searches include by discount or for rooms under $250, but is definitely cheaper and ideal for special occasions. For flights, it’s worth searching Hipmunk. This site certainly has the easiest interface to use and lets you sort trips based on price, flight duration, arrival and departure times, as well as ‘agony,’ a combination of these factors. It certainly helps you to understand what you’re getting for

these sites act like travel agents that lower price. Speaking of new sites, Google has created HotelFinder. It builds on Google Maps to give you some interesting ways to find just the right hotel. It’s still in beta but is getting some very good reviews. Cayole has an easy-to-use interface that offers a similar service for cruises (although these can also be found on Orbitz and Travelocity). AirBnB caters to those looking for the bed and breakfast experience. But the Internet offers much more than just a basic shopping experience. To help you know when to buy a plane ticket, Farecast (now part of Microsoft’s Bing search), will not just show fares but also if you should buy now or wait, based on whether the price is likely to change over the next few days.

For research, you can’t beat Trip Advisor. This site posts traveller’s reviews and allows you to sort them to find the reviews that are relevant to your trip. For example, a bad review from a business traveller for no wi-fi might not matter for a romantic vacation for two. Trip Advisor has so many reviews that it has become a very dependable source. SeatGuru lets you see exactly which are the best and worst seats on any airplane. TripKick does the same for hotels but they have a considerably bigger challenge; there’s a lot more variance in hotels, so don’t be surprised if your hotel isn’t mapped out yet. If you want a more local feel and would rather stay in someone’s home, you can use HomeAway or, if you’re prepared to make your own home available, HomeExchange may

work for you. If you’re looking for something really different, lets you live with the locals. It sounds odd, but for thousands of years that was the only way to go. Finally, if you just want to get away but don’t know where, Kayak has a great tool. You enter your details and it shows you where your budget can take you. Happy trails!

Peter Atkinson is E-Services Consultant at the St. Thomas Public Library.


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February, 2012





Are you happy in your work?

Nick Williams, author of The Work We Were Born To Do


we can make money from following our joy

Q&A with best-selling author Nick Williams Part 1 by Sharon Lechner

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing British author and international speaker Nick Williams on the different aspects of career transitions. He is the author of seven books, including the bestselling The Work We Were Born To Do, and is co-founder of I was thrilled to speak with him since it was his book that inspired me to make a career change last April when I left my job as CEO of a local charity to become self-employed as a Certified Life Coach who offers career transition solutions. your books, you talk about Q In the idea that many people believe that work is meant to be a struggle. How have you overcome this self-limiting belief and what is your advice to others who hold this belief? like a fish in water, most of A Ausbit think our beliefs are reality and the context of our lives, not beliefs that we have absorbed and can have some choice over. So step one is to become aware that “work is a struggle” is a belief, and even though it is a commonly held belief, it


doesn’t make it a universal reality. Thousands of people have always made their living from their passions, and that number increases daily. Next is to believe that there are other ways of living and working. Meet one person who does something they love and gets well paid for it and you have a new reference point. I encourage people to explore their first entrepreneurial income whilst they are still employed. As soon as you earn any money doing something you love, you know it’s possible. We have no way of knowing how conditioned we have become. Only by putting ourselves in the company of people who have different beliefs do we recognise our own beliefs. Finally, put yourself in the company of inspired, creative, talented people and see what you can observe in them and absorb from them.


my coaching practice I find Q In many people do not make career moves because they are bound by the outward signs of success. Many years ago, you had a very successful career, a house with a large mortgage and a very expensive car. What made you decide to pursue the inward signs of success and what have been the rewards? I was so miserable! I felt A Because I was trapped – that success had me rather than the other way around. I had created an image of myself as successful but didn’t feel a success and just felt that I had so much untapped potential that I had buried away. I guess I made a decision to follow my own joy and happiness rather than define myself by external symbols alone, and what other people might think of me. I still have a nice car and a few toys now, but today success is about how happy I feel, how fulfilled, how much contribution I can make, how free I feel, as well as earning the money I need for a lovely life. The question for each of us I think is: do we want to live by appearance or by truly knowing our essential selves? your books you talk a lot Q In about career joy. Can you tell us what it is and how one can go about discovering it? that joy is already within A Ius.believe I believe we have an essential and eternal Self that is made of love, knows joy, is already happy and is at peace. But when we forget that self, we create another self, a personality that is always looking for and searching for happiness, love and peace in-



stead. So we get caught in the trap of searching for joy rather than sharing joy and following joy. I think we need to become selfaware. When do we come alive? When do we lose our sense of time? How do we love to spend our time when no one is watching and no external rewards and punishments are involved? These are our clues to our joy, and we can make money from following our joy. you believe people can have Q Do financial success while being their authentic selves? I know it! I actually think A Yes, that there is a new world emerging where those who will be successful are those who are showing up as their authentic selves. In his great book Linchpin, Seth Godin argues that the age of being successful by being compliant and colouring between the lines is ending. I agree, and I believe that a lot of the future belongs to those willing to show up with their brilliance, their passion and their authenticity. Just look at Oprah – she has become of the richest people on the planet by feeding our craving for inspiration and authenticity. I think the world is hungry for authenticity and meaning, and we are the ones to bring it. Catch the second half of my interview with Nick Williams in next month’s issue.

Sharon Lechner is a certified master life coach and owner of Reach for the Stars Empowerment in St. Thomas. February, 2012

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• FEBRUARY 2012 • January BA5 Winner

Host Trudy Kanellis of the Wayside Dining Lounge (right) presents Brenda Smallman from Elgin Business Resource Centre with one of two door prizes won by Delia Reiche from the ICE Centre at the January Business After 5.

Business Beat Table of Contents Eric and Lola 10 Free Enterprise Award nominations 11 Engage and Inspire 12 Get ready to rock 13 It is all about selling page 14 Out-of-country travel insurance 15 Welcome new members 16

Business After 5 Wednesday February 8, 2011 Boston Pizza 860 Talbot Street St. Thomas Sponsored by Boston Pizza Doors open at 5pm. Sponsor remarks and prize draws start at 6:15pm. Free admission for anyone from a business organization that is a Member of the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber to host area mayors The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will host St. Thomas Mayor Heather JacksonChapman, Central Elgin Mayor and Elgin County Warden Bill Walters, and Southwold Mayor Jim McIntyre in an event we’re billing as our “State of the Municipalities” luncheon on Wednesday, February 22. Last year, 100 days after the local election, the Chamber brought the three area mayors to the stage in an event that was one of our best attended of the year, and one that Members rated highly in our postevent evaluations. Members have told us they value this event so the Chamber is pledging it will become a yearly function. We’re also aiming to bring together our Elgin MP and MPP in a similar luncheon forum in late spring. Our February 22 event will be held at St. Anne’s Centre, 11:30am to 1:30pm. Tickets are available by advance sale only from the Chamber office at $25 per person. Reserved seating will be provided for anyone placing a single order of four tickets or more. Until February 13,

St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman

tickets to this event will be available exclusively to people from businesses and organizations that are Members of the St. Thomas & District Chamber. Remaining tickets, if any, will be available to the public February 13 to 17. Food service will include a bistro lunch placed at each table with assorted sandwiches and salad plus hot/cold beverages. Some might refer to it as a working lunch as at-

Southwold Mayor Jim McIntyre

tendees will be invited to enjoy their meal while our local mayors speak. Each mayor will have 10 minutes of individual speaking time to comment on plans and projects in their municipality for the year ahead. Once their remarks conclude, the focus turns to questions from the audience. Anyone purchasing a ticket to attend will be welcome to submit questions to the Chamber office

...attendees will be invited to enjoy their meal while our local mayors speak.

Central Elgin Mayor and Elgin County Warden Bill Walters

in advance of the event, and we will also entertain questions from the floor as the event proceeds. The State of the Municipalities luncheon is made possible through the generous support of sponsors. Steelway Building Systems, the Elgin Business Resource Centre & ICE (Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs), and the Workforce Planning and Development Board are our main sponsors. A&M Sounds Disc Jockey Service and myFM 94.1 Radio are our media sponsors. Order forms for tickets are posted on the Chamber’s website now at We can also accept ticket orders by phone at 519631-1981 during business hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Take part in our feature on Income Tax In the March edition of Elgin This Month To take advantage of excellent advertising opportunities like this, give me a call at 519-633-1640 (ext. 22) Greg Minnema, Advertising Sales

or email me at March Edition Advertising Deadline is February 13th

Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and your favourite beverages. February, 2012





LEGAL BUSINESS Legal News and Issues for Business

Eric and Lola by Monty Fordham

On Thursday January 19, the Supreme Court of Canada was scheduled to hear the appeal of the case that has been referred to as “Eric v. Lola”. The original case, having given rise to the appeal, began in the Province of Quebec and involves the issues of spousal support, or alimony, and the rights of common-law (or de facto, as they are referred to in Quebec) spouses to division of property in the event of separation. So, who are Eric and Lola, and why do their matrimonial troubles concern us, especially here in Ontario? Eric is a 51-year-old Quebec billionaire businessman and Lola is a former Brazilian model. They lived together in what in Ontario would be termed a common-law union for some seven years. During that time they had three children together. Apparently Eric was not the “marrying kind” and their union was never formalized by either a religious or civil ceremony. Under Quebec law, the issues of spousal support, division of property

and rights to the family residence in the event of separation and divorce are covered by the Quebec Civil Code. However, unlike some other jurisdictions, Ontario included, Quebec does not recognize any of these rights in the case of de facto unions, as opposed to married and civil unions. After a number of, reportedly, tumultuous years together, Eric and Lola separated. By all accounts the lower court hearing was every bit as tumultuous. Although Eric had agreed to rather generous child support, he did not concede that Lola was entitled to any spousal support. The lower court agreed, and the case eventually wound up in the Quebec Court of Appeal. The decision of the Court of Appeal rocked the foundations of Quebec family law. The Court found that section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (dealing with equality under the law) applied, and that, therefore, Lola was entitled to spousal support as if she were married. It also struck down the applicable section of the Quebec Civil Code. So what does all this have to do with common-law spouses in Ontario? That will depend upon what

the Supreme Court of Canada decides. Since the decision will arrive after press time for this article, I will simply promise to update you when it does. Should the Supreme Court of Canada agree with the Court of Appeal, its decision could have wide reaching ramifications for spouses in Ontario and the rest of Canada. In Ontario, common-law unions are recognized to a limited degree under the Family Law Act. This arises as a result of the expanded definition of “spouse” contained in the spousal support provisions of the Act. This expanded definition includes persons who have resided together for a period in excess of three years, or where there are children of the union. So, what’s the problem if Ontario recognizes rights to support?


Eric was not the “marrying kind”

Published by Carroll Publishing Inc. and delivered to businesses in St. Thomas and Elgin County For complete information on the St.Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, reach us at: 115-300 South Edgeware Rd., St. Thomas, Ontario N5P 4L1 Telephone: 519-631-1981 Fax: 519-631-0466 E-Mail: Website: President & CEO

Bob Hammersley

Member Services Coordinator Accounting Coordinator Member Services





Mike Vecchio Susan Munday Wes Bailey

Remember, the Quebec Court of Appeal struck down the entire section of the Code, which also dealt with property rights. The Ontario Family Law Act does not recognize property rights in common-law spouses, regardless of the duration of the union. Should the Supreme Court of Canada decide that common-law spouses have equal rights as married spouses, we can anticipate a flurry of challenges to the Ontario Family Law Act with respect to both property rights and spousal support, insofar as the ‘three year rule’ is concerned. Common-law spouses involved in businesses, incorporated or not, as well as individuals need to follow this decision. It may forever change the way pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements are structured by family lawyers. Finally, if there is uncertainty concerning spousal rights in Canada, a judge in Bracebridge has removed all doubt as to whether you can order from a drive through window au naturel. You may not! The male driver was charged and convicted. However, the passenger in the case was acquitted as he may have been wearing (eek) a thong. Where are the fashion police when you need them? Remember when a thong was thomething we thang?

Lawyer Monty Fordham prepares this monthly column for the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce and our Members. Monty is also a volunteer serving on the Chamber’s Board of Directors. Questions, comments and suggestions for future columns are welcomed by Monty at his Law Office, 4 Elgin Street, St. Thomas. Telephone 519-633-4000, FAX 519-633-1371 or e-mail:

2012 Board of Directors Chair: Jason White Past Chair: Linda Sawyer Treasurer:  Mark Lassam, CA

Steelway Building Systems BMO Bank of Montreal Kee, Perry & Lassam Chartered Accountants Director: Pete Charlton Charlton’s Quality Meats Director:  Monty Fordham Monty Fordham Law Office Director:  Jeff Kohler                      Presstran Industries Director:  Debra Mountenay         Workforce Planning & Development Board Director:  John Regan Elgin Business Resource Centre Director:  Darren Reith Reith and Associates Insurance & Financial Director:  Paul Smith P.J. Smith and Associates Director:  Allan Weatherall            St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation Director:  Laura Woermke             St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre

February, 2012

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members Free Enterprise Award nominations now being accepted BUSINESS BEAT

The Free Enterprise Awards are the cornerstone of the Chamber’s work to celebrate success. Each year since the 1970s, we have welcomed nominations of businesses, organizations and individuals who deserved to be recognized for their excellence in business and community service. To nominate a deserving candidate, contact Bob Hammersley at the Chamber, There are three award categories: Chair’s Awards This presentation reflects service and contributions, including volunteer activities, that have assisted the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce. Presented at the discretion of the Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors when events or circumstances reflect service or contributions of an extraordinary nature. Free Enterprise Award of Merit Recognition of those businesses and/or individuals whose recent or specific accomplishments are significant. There is no limit to the number of times that an individual or business might receive a Merit Award. Entrepreneurial success is the primary focus of the Merit Awards with consideration of other desirables reflecting on community, civic and/or social betterment. No more than three winners may be named in any year. Free Enterprise Master Awards Our major award. This honour recognizes businesses and individuals making significant, all-encompassing contributions within St. Thomas, Central Elgin and/or Southwold. The recipients are proven leaders, as evidenced by repeated success in endeavours that relate to entrepreneurship along with community spirit and social well-being. No more than three winners may be named in any year. Award presentations are held each

spring. The date and location of the Free Enterprise Program is finalized in harmony with the schedule of the keynote speaker. Nomination submissions are welcome year round. Here are the details to consider when building a nomination submission: • Describe the nominee’s relationships with staff, clients, suppliers, etc. • Growth, changes or improvements that have enhanced performance? • Are there any innovation, trailblazing or risk-taking initiatives and strategies that have been developed or undertaken? • Describe any situation where the nominee has created new jobs or successfully fought to sustain jobs in our market. • Describe successes and achievements in community service, work with civic or charitable/non-profit agencies, or volunteer activities. • Has the nominee utilized conservation and stewardship techniques, advanced technologies, or developed programs to save, protect or enhance or environment? • Name something that makes this nominee stand out above all others. • Describe the time, energy, resources dedicated to professional growth and continuous learning. • Details on measurement, practices and internal processes for customer service. • Coaching, mentoring, assistance to other businesses, individuals or organizations? • How has new technology helped? • Marketing successes and strategy? • Growth beyond local service to regional, national and/or international levels? The 2012 submission deadline is Friday March 2, 4:30pm. 

Regional Business After 5 It’s called diSTRICTLY BUSINESS – showcase of enterprise in the local and regional economy. If you’re interested in regional business opportunities, then don’t miss our multi-Chamber event at Western Fair District on Thursday, June 14. Six regional Chambers – St. Thomas, London, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, Woodstock and Ingersoll – are pooling resources and energy to create an event that will be like a giant Business After 5 with 200 exhibitors. Details and pricing will be finalized by the end of this month. Bob Hammersley at the St. Thomas & District Chamber welcomes calls, emails and questions on participation now and the St. Thomas & District Chamber has opened a file to book tentative reservations for space. diSTRICTLY

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BUSINESS will be the largest regional Chamber Member showcase in history, and our goal is to make it an annual event. First come, first served on space bookings. Exhibitor costs for display space will be $225 for the whole show, 3pm to 8pm, in the Progress Building. Electrical service and a small group of other options will be available to exhibitors at cost. With six area Chambers participating, we expect St. Thomas will have an allocation of close to 40 exhibit spaces for our Members. Call Bob now to get on the list at 519-631-1981, ext. 524 or email:  Registration forms and contracts are expected to be available from the Chamber office by February 15. 





MEMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

Engage and Inspire Can social media help my business, or is it just a fad? by Bob McNaughton

As a business owner, manager or entrepreneur, here are some facts that you need to know about social media and online marketing. According to, over 2.1 billion people are online. Yes, that’s a “B”! Some of these people are your ideal prospects. There are 70+ billion online searches every month. That’s ten times the world’s population! Some of these people are interested in what you have to offer but most of them can't find you. Of all people on earth, 46 percent access a social network daily, says Most traffic is to one of the big four – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube. Connecting through these platforms must be fulfilling a human need. Which ones are you active on to connect with prospects and clients? For recruitment purposes, 80 per-

cent of all companies use social media. It must be working to find and be found! LinkedIn can be your online resume. What does your social profile say about you or your company? Facebook forecasts it will reach 1 billion users in 2012. That’s one in every seven people on earth. Human connection is important. Three of every four minutes spent on social networking sites is on Facebook. You need to be there, whether you are B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). Interactivity and responsiveness is still an opportunity as 95 percent of wall posts get no response from brand page owners, reveals Interact with your prospects who are talking to you, about you, your brand or your company. People need a reason to act. Of all people that like brands on Facebook, 57 percent do it because the brand offers them free discounts or coupons, according to Mashable. What can you offer? Every day, Twitter states that 95

million tweets are exchanged. The information must be of value to those involved. This rapidly increases when a breaking news story hits. You can get your message out there fast and search for prospects. When publishing on social sites, 73 percent of all people believe that employees over-share, says Policies and guidelines are important. Keep your updates positive, uplifting and professional. A Department of Education study in the USA showed that students who learn online do better than students who learn via face-to-face interaction. This is our future! Do you and your company have an online presence? For marketing? For training?

Annual TV sales are projected down for the first time since the device was invented. ReelSEO suggests it’s because many younger people don’t NEED a television. Makes you think, doesn’t it? How can you use this information to your advantage? Half of the world’s population is under age 30 and the people most active on social networks tend to be older than 30. Compare this to an hourglass full of sand (potential) at the top and imagine how quickly that potential will flow into opportunity at the bottom – and how big it will be. Do you still believe that social media is just a fad or is it a new tool in your toolbox that you didn’t know was there? Perhaps you didn’t see the value in it for business or how to use it? How can you harness it to your advantage and get in the flow of opportunity? What is effective social media marketing? The real key is to use the same approach as social networking. Approach social media marketing with an attitude of giving rather than receiving. Success results from providing information needed to: 1) overcome a challenge, 2) satisfy a need or 3) enhance an interest or passion. Want help or more information? I invite you to visit my website:

The information in the article was submitted at the invitation of the Chamber by Bob McNaughton, co-owner of Dog & Pony Productions Inc. and The writer welcomes your comments, calls and questions at 519-637-6410 or email

Exhibitor invitation – May 16

1.59 6.9 1.64 %





Concerned about tomorrow’s workforce? Here’s a chance for today’s employers to participate in a one-day experience focused on the local future in science, technology and trades. SLOME is an event run annually since 2000. It has welcomed over 30,000 youth and 80 percent of previous exhibitors rate student interaction as “excellent.” The Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board invites employers in Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford to participate in this unique opportunity at Western Fair District in the Agriplex Building on Wednesday, May 16. SLOME is a chance for employers to connect with over 2,500 students, from all three area counties, and it will provide employers with a chance to share with students the valuable work they conduct in the community and how it can lead to a possible career. Students will engage with employers by asking questions and gather information on future career choices relating to science, technology and trades. The organizers want to hear from employers who may want to participate, exhibit or sponsor to join in making SLOME 2012 a success. Help students see a full variety of career choices by getting involved! Admittance to SLOME is free for exhibitors. SLOME is always looking for new and exciting exhibits and certainly open to working with employers to find something suitable. Do you have any questions? Not sure if your organization would be a good fit? For more details, contact Chad Callander at



February, 2012


CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

Get ready to rock!! Survey via web and email The St. Thomas & District Chamber presents our popular annual on-ice extravaganza of curling on Saturday, February 11 at the St. Thomas Curling Club on Parkside Drive. The day begins at 8:30am and wraps up by 3pm. Experience is NOT a necessity, but may keep you on your feet! Teams of 4 can register for only $250 plus HST, or singles can join in by registering for $65 plus HST. A light breakfast and hot lunch are included in your day, plus great prizes, draws, and cash bar.  Call Member Services Co-ordinator Mike Vecchio at the Chamber office today to book your team at 519-631-1981 ext. 523, or you can download a registration form from the Chamber website and fax or email it back us. Thanks to our Gold Sponsor, Ascent Energy Services Inc., and our Silver Sponsor, Yurek Pharmacy, for making our 11th annual Funspiel possible!

The Chamber’s Member Services Committee has launched a new survey project to collect Member views and opinions on potential new networking opportunities. The Chamber’s role in our community is based on information and communication. One of the key ways we keep Members connected and informed is through delivery of special events. We want and need your opinion! Tell us in three minutes or less, and let our Member Services Committee volunteers know what you feel should be on our special events calendar. Links to the survey will appear weekly in our Green Mail broadcasts and on the Chamber website at until the survey closes at 4pm on February 15.

Board plans activity and goals The Chamber’s Board of Directors, Committees and staff are developing a new Strategic Plan for the Chamber that will focus on objectives and goals over the next five years. Shown here, Member Services Representative Wes Bailey reviews ideas with the group attending a “working dinner” meeting on January 18. Special thanks to our community partner, Fanshawe College, for providing facilitator Tom Pickard to help our team develop and shape our plans.

Make Hiring Simple... Contact a Job Developer today



All services are Free! Employment Services Elgin 400 Talbot St., St. Thomas P: 519.631.5470 Mon-Thurs 8:30am-6pm • Fri 8:30am-4pm

Aylmer Community Services West Elgin Support Services 25 Centre Street, Aylmer P: 519.765.2082 Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm Tues 9am-6pm

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This Employment Ontario program is funded by the Ontario Government



POSITIVE EXPOSURE Doing Public Relations Right

It is all about selling – it’s just called something else One of the programs I love to watch on television is Dragon’s Den on CBC. One of the regular ‘dragons’ is Robert Herjavec, who also appears on ABC Television’s similar show, Shark Tank. He has built and sold businesses on his way to amassing a personal fortune of millions of dollars. A first-generation immigrant, he was eight when he came to Canada with his parents and they arrived in Halifax after escaping communism in former Yugoslavia. They had only one suitcase, few prospects, $20 and no understanding of the English language. Now more than 30 years later, his unlimited dreams led him to experience the classic "rags to riches" immigrant story. I have been reading his book Driven – How to Succeed in Business and in Life. In just a few hundred words I cannot give you a good synopsis of his overall message but here are a few highlights. Television is such a vital part of our life today and here’s what Robert Herjavec says about how TV is like the real world! • You only have a short amount of time to make your point. In real life, you don’t know when the other person isn’t really listening to you. In the TV world, you always know. • People judge you by who you appear to be. • Past success does not guarantee future success. Great ratings last year mean little this year. • Fast listeners have a distinct advantage. • People who don’t really love you are around when you’re important and shun you when you’re not.

Five ways TV is not like the real world: 1. Life is long. TV is short, mostly one-hour time periods. 2. Despite your audience size and approval rating, the only opinions that should really matter are those of your family and friends. 3. Success is not measured by the hour, it is measured in years. 4. In the real world, you cannot be called a major success based upon two weeks of good ratings. 5. People who truly love you do so no matter how big your audience ratings are. He has an interesting perspective. He also spends a great deal of time on the fact that everyone in your organization should be a salesperson as “nothing happens until somebody sells something.” In the end, selling consists of relating to another person

– or communicating effectively – and thus persuading that person to go somewhere he or she perhaps had not planned to go. Many things we do in the course of our lives relate to selling – just with a different label. We witness examples of natural-born salespeople each day and most of us just understand the basics, but everyone can learn the techniques. Planning a sales pitch to anyone begins with reviewing all the good things that could happen but also why a ‘no’ answer might occur. It may be the price or performance or

by Allan Weatherall

nothing happens until somebody sells something

timing and any number of other reasons. Good salespeople love the challenge of getting ready. They review the situation, assess the needs, match their product of service to the perceived need, find a way that fits and then ask for the order. That is the standard approach but one other thing to add is fun. Often people forget the technical stuff but remember a meeting that was fun and that you left an impression. It’s the feelings – both negative and positive – that will be the lasting impression. Robert Herjavec leaves the reader at the end of his book with a few more things. • Love what you do • Money is great, but never the sole reward • Fill a defined need or requirement • Base your business decision on facts • Trust customers to know what they need and want • Your life is not that hard – you can always do more • Smile • Learn from others • Never give up I hope your sales pitch is firmly in place – to succeed in business and life. As Mark Twain said, “Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.”

This article has been prepared for the Chamber and our Members by Allan Weatherall, B.A., CFRE, APR – Executive Director of the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation. He received accreditation (APR) from the Canadian Public Relations Society in 1993 and a CFRE (certified fundraising executive) in 2000. He welcomes your comments via email to: or telephone 519-631-2030 extension 2247.

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3-9 Princess Ave., St.Thomas, ON N5R 3V3

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Tony Milles, AMP Mortgage Agent

February, 2012


PRO TEXT Business Management News & Issues

Out-of-country travel insurance by Dan Reith

Planning a vacation to a tropical island or a road trip state side? Thoughts of extending a business trip or are the children travelling for a school trip or sports team south of the border or to Europe? If so, take the time to put the proper provisions in place before leaving Canada so you are prepared for the unforeseen and unexpected emergencies and accidents that can and do happen. Preparation is key to a safe and successful trip! Aside from carrying your passport, traveller’s cheques and the right wardrobe, remember to pack your travel insurance documents. Don’t rely solely on what you think you may have for coverage through your group benefits at work. Before departure, contact the group plan administrator and clarify exactly what coverage is available for out-ofCanada medical coverage, including emergency transportation and repatriation expenses. You may not need to purchase a separate policy, and you can purchase additional coverage to top up or add to an existing plan. It is also important to investigate the limitations, if any, that your insurer may have for pre-existing conditions.

Additional coverage may be required to protect you or a family member. (Editor’s Note: For Members and/or employees enrolled in the national Chambers of Commerce Group Plan, there is extensive out-ofcountry/out-of-province coverage included in your plan. For details, call the national Chamber service line at 1-800-663-0805.) Telfer International Consultants Inc., international medical insurance specialists, suggests some reasons why travel insurance is an essential part of any family’s travel plan: • Accidents or illness can happen to anyone at anytime—an unguarded moment or exposure to a harmful virus. • Some American hospitals will not admit unless you have insurance or can pay upfront regardless of your medical condition. • You cannot take Medicare for granted when working outside Canada, even for short periods. The Ontario Government Health Plan (OHIP) will foot only a portion of the bills. • Your OHIP coverage may terminate after you have lived outside of Canada for a prolonged period of

time. • With certain exceptions, when you return to Canada there will be a wait of up to three months before you can benefit from OHIP after a prolonged absence outside Canada. • A comprehensive travel insurance plan can help you leave a country, at no extra cost, in the event of a major medical emergency for which local facilities are unable to deal with. • Travelling to a country with war or civil unrest may require specialized coverage to ensure full protection. • Extended vacations may not be covered by a group plan due to plan limitations. • Certain high-risk activities (scuba, parachuting, rock climbing) can be

excluded from group plan travel coverage, therefore you must ensure your coverage meets the possible risk of any activity on your itinerary. • Much of the coverage we take for granted in Canada is not available abroad. Travel insurance today can be purchased for annual terms with maximum per trip exposure; or short single trip coverage can be obtained. Policies can allow for certain coverage to be bought as a means to top up what you may already have. Make sure your family vacation is as enjoyable as you plan and hope for by reviewing your out-of-country medical coverage carefully and seeking the advice of a trained advisor before you leave the country. Once you land at your destination it is too late to buy the coverage. This column appears regularly in Business Beat and has been submitted by Dan Reith, BA(Hons) CAIB, Principal Broker, Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services Limited. Questions and comments on this column are welcomed by the writer at 519-631-3862 or via email:


Disbrowe team deliver to myFM a new Disbrowe Cruzer – the all new 2012 compact 7 seater Chevrolet Orlando. Visit to book the Cruzer for your next event.

116 Edward Street, St. Thomas February, 2012

519-631-7960 E L G I N


M O N T H 15


NEW MEMBERS Welcome To The Chamber Network

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is pleased to welcome the following businesses and individuals as our newest Members. The staff and management of the organizations shown below were accepted as registered Members from December 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012. Accounting With You 405 – 300 South Edgeware Road St. Thomas, ON N5P 4L1 Phone: 519-633-7597 ext. 405 Fax: 519-633-5139 Email: Website: Contact: Ms. Gail Dennis, Prosperity Coach Buyer’s Guide Categories: Accounting Services; Financial Services; Investment Services; Tax Services Products & Services: Experienced in accounting, payroll, income tax and financial planning. Accounting experience in various industries enables this firm to learn your business specifics quickly, as well as how to best track your information through record keeping and statistics

handling. A Financial Planner able to analyze financial needs in the present and future, including long-term retirement and estate planning. An Income Tax Professional able to advise on best practices tax strategies and prepare income tax returns for mailing or e-file. London Hotel & Suites 855 Wellington Road London, ON N6E 3N5 Phone: 519-668-7900 Fax: 519-668-7923 Website: Contact: Ms. Lynn Walker, Marketing Buyer’s Guide Categories: Accommodations, Banquet Facilities Products & Services: Discover true hospitality the moment you arrive at the London Hotel & Suites. Ideally located near downtown and minutes from the 401, the London Hotel & Suites is one of the leading London Ontario hotels. At the end of the day settle into one of their 144 spacious guestrooms and suites which include such welcome amenities as high-speed Internet access, dual-line telephones, data ports, refrigerators, coffee makers, hair dryers and iron/ironing boards. Select suites include

a microwave and Jacuzzi tubs. Just step outside the front door and London's world class attractions & activities are minutes away including: the University of Western Ontario, Fanshawe College, John Labatt Centre, and London Health Science Centre, East Park Family Fun Centre, Story Book Gardens and Adventures on Wonderland making it one of the city’s most convenient hotels. Milles, Tony – Mortgage Consultant 3 – 9 Princess Avenue St. Thomas, ON N5R 3V3 Phone: 519-207-8669 Fax: 519-488-4734 Email: Website: Contact: Mr. Tony Milles, Mortgage Consultant Buyer’s Guide Category: Mortgages Products & Services: With more than 14 years experience in financial services, Tony brings a wealth of insight and indepth knowledge to help individuals and their families enjoy home ownership. As an Accredited Mortgage Professional, he will determine your specific mortgage financing requirements, negotiate with the lenders on your behalf, get you the most

competitive rates and will offer you the widest choice of mortgage options. He will counsel you on credit and mortgage qualifications, offer efficient and highly personalized service and help you every step of the way. The good news is that there is no cost to you for his services for standard mortgage financing – the selected lender pays OMAC to source the mortgage. You benefit from his access to a long list of lenders, market knowledge, exceptional negotiation skills as well as Tony’s commitment to highly personalized service. Stork Club Big Band Museum & Hall of Fame 302 Bridge Street Port Stanley, ON N5L 1C3 Phone: 519-854-1646 Website: Contacts: Mr. John Robinson, President; Ms. Cynthia O’Neil, Director; Penny Crichton, Program Manager Buyer’s Guide Category: Agencies & Associations Products & Services: The Stork Club Big Band Museum is a multi-faceted not-forprofit organization committed to communicating messages and stories about the aspects of our community’s cultural heritage, which was epitomized by the Port Stanley Stork Club. They will inform, educate and entertain the general public about Big Band music, the Dance Hall phenomenon in Ontario and, in particular, the fond memories so many residents from our area have of the Port Stanley Stork Club. Uffen Management Systems & Support 10138 Lynhurst Park Drive St. Thomas, ON N5R 2E7 Phone: 519-488-1425 Fax: 519-488-1767 Email: Website: Contact: Mr. Ted Uffen, President Buyer’s Guide Category: Management Consulting Products & Services: Uffen Management Systems & Support offers implementation, maintenance and training related to ISO9001, TS16949, ISO13485, ISO18000, and ISO22000/HAACP.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES DIRECTORY Save 3.5¢/litre Chamber members qualify for Esso’s Direct Billing Program; you pay 3.5¢ off the posted retail pump price whenever you fuel up. You may also get a convenient, detailed monthly invoice and also qualify for Speedpass®. For an application, contact:

Lynhurst ESSO & Variety 16

Wellington Road at St. George St. 519-633-0002

t! Fresh at Its Bes

• Delicious, Fresh Baked Goods like no other! • Parties • Weddings • Anniversaries • Meetings • Any Special Occasion

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February, 2012

St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce

be seen be heard

Pete Charlton

Pete Charlton’s Quality Meats 273 Ross Street, St. Thomas 519-631-2340

Pete Charlton’s Quality Meats has been a Registered Chamber member for 20 years

I have experienced the benefits and support of the St Thomas Chamber, not only with improved business but having a stake in the continuous improvement of our Business Community.

We belong because we believe in the business community. Barbara Beechey

Small Business Account Manager RBC Royal Bank 1099 Talbot St. E. St. Thomas 519-631-7480

Royal Bank has been a Registered Chamber member for 97 years

As a family owned business, we find that being a part of the St Thomas Chamber of Commerce opens a lot of doors with other Chamber members and provides many business opportunities.

To me, it’s about maximizing business potential. Jeff McGregor

Co-owner, McGregor Auto Parts 44267 Elm Line St. Thomas 519-631-4801

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The Annual Membership Guide is a huge benefit.

Harry Geerlinks

Co-owner, Geerlinks Home Hardware Building Centre and Furniture Store 295 Wellington St. St. Thomas 519-631-2910 Geerlinks Home Hardware has been a Registered Chamber member for 12 years

We’re a family owned auto repair business, we’ve always appreciated the business and personal relationships we’ve developed over the years.

Chamber membership is a must if you’re serious about your business. Ron Buchanan

Owner, Ron’s Auto Service 255 Edward Street St. Thomas 519-633-6130

Ron’s Auto Service has been a Registered Chamber member for 12 years

I’ve enjoyed being a Chamber member since my return to my Hometown of St Thomas. It’s great to be a part of such a vibrant business organization.

The networking opportunities helped grow my business.

We joined the Chamber because we believe in our community and we understand the importance of staying in touch with local people and business. It has been a great asset for us as a company.

We’re a small but very popular business, and quality customer service aside, I believe the valuable networking opportunities we received through Chamber membership helped contribute to that success.

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I like being active in the growth of our community. Shawn Jackson

Owner, Shawn Jackson Funeral Home 31 Elgin Street, St. Thomas 519-631-0570

McGregor Auto Parts has been a Registered Chamber member for 20 years

Shawn Jackson Funeral Home has been a Registered Chamber member for 4 years

Joining the chamber provides you one of the best opportunities to develop your business. You can take advantage of the great benefits we offer to help you not only grow your business but also to grow your network, increase your exposure, build your customer base and make a direct impact on the business community. You will be entitled to some of the best savings, but in addition to savings programs, monthly newsletter, and special offers, your membership will entitle you to enjoy many more learning and networking opportunities. Call Membership Coordinator Mike Vecchio at 519-631-1981 to talk about how you can join over 700 community business in growing business and community. February, 2012






Saving for retirement? How a Tax-Free Savings Account can be a valuable addition to your financial plan by Stephanie Farrow

The New Year is a time when many people revisit their personal savings and retirement plans. Every January 1, we have an additional 60 days to contribute to our RRSPs for our previous year’s tax return, and another year of TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account) contribution is available for every Canadian over the age of 18. Decisions need to be made whether to contribute, how much and where to invest. The need for Canadians to independently deal with their financial planning for retirement is on the rise. Fewer businesses provide traditional pension plans for their employees than in years past, which means most people will not have the security of a defined benefit pension plan providing them guaranteed income for the rest of their lives in retirement. In fact, according to Statistics Canada in 2009, only one in four working Canadians has access to a

Gail Dennis

defined benefit pension plan. The tides have turned, and the majority of Canadians need to take a lead role in planning for their own retirement needs. TFSAs are still relatively new on the Canadian financial planning scene (introduced in January 2009), so there is still some hesitation and confusion surrounding their rules, how they work and how they can fit effectively into a financial plan. The annual TFSA room available may seem low to some people, but make no mistake, as time goes on, they will play an increasingly prominent role in the financial plans of Canadians. When they were introduced in the 2008 Federal Budget, the Government called the TFSA the single most important savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP in 1957. That same year, the CD Howe Institute said “One real advantage of TFSAs for individuals without an occupational pension is that they will have a mechanism to save

effectively.” As a rare opportunity to generate tax-free income, a TFSA can be an important part of your overall financial plan. Whether you are saving for the short term (0-5 years) or the longer term (6+ years), a TFSA can be a valuable addition. • Contributions can be made anytime for Canadians age 18 and older. • You can contribute up to $5,000 each year (indexed to inflation to nearest $500). • Contributions are made with after-tax income (no tax deduction). • You pay no tax on the investment growth in the account. • Withdrawals are tax free. • There is no restriction on how withdrawals may be used. • You can contribute beyond age 71. • There is no requirement to withdraw at any age. • A TFSA may invest in a wide range of qualified investments such as stocks, bonds, GICs, mutual and

Prosperity Coach for Your Business and You



Don’t go it alone... Are your books up to date? Have you had your Annual Financial Review? Don’t stress... Call Gail Dennis and maximize your Investment Portfolios 300 South Edgeware Rd., St. Thomas, ON N5P 4L1 519-633-7597 (Ext. 405)

segregated fund contracts. Your current and future income and levels of taxation are one of the main considerations in how to structure the combination of TFSAs and RRSPs in your financial plan. Your financial advisor can help you determine the right fit for your personal situation. Stephanie Farrow, B.A., CFP, is a Certified Financial Planner and co-owner of Farrow Financial Services Inc. in Belmont.

Join us for a free workshop that can help you live the retirement you really want Your Future by Design® is a holistic approach to retirement planning that looks at so many aspects of your retirement, so you get a plan that truly works for you. Attend our free retirement workshop and learn how your priorities can shape your retirement and help create a plan for the life you want to live. Please join us at: The CASO Station — 750 Talbot St, St. Thomas March 6, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. To Register for this event: Please call Julie Broughton at 519-631-7381 Chris Davies 519-473-9974

Financial planning services and investment advice are provided by Royal Mutual Funds Inc. (RMFI). RMFI, RBC Global Asset Management Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. RMFI is licensed as a financial services firm in the province of Quebec. ® / ™ Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. RBC and Royal Bank are registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. ©2011 Royal Bank of Canada.





February, 2012


Don’t make these 10 common RRSP mistakes How to take a smarter look at your investments by JoAnn Pay

No matter what the markets are doing, RRSPs are still one of the best ways you can save for long-term goals like retirement. So take full advantage of them, and avoid making the following mistakes: 1. Missing a contribution. Skipping just one annual contribution of $5,000 could reduce the value of your RRSP by almost $17,000 at the end of 25 years (assuming a 5% annual rate of return). So, it’s important to contribute every year to take advantage of tax-sheltered compounding growth. 2. Indecision. If you’re rushing to meet the deadline, it’s easy to make a bad investment choice or none at all. So make your RRSP contribution in cash. Then, later, when you’ve carefully evaluated your options, transfer your ‘parked’ money into an appropriate investment. 3. Waiting until the last minute. Life is busy, so you may end up scrambling to contribute just before the RRSP deadline. A smarter approach is to put your savings on autopilot and have smaller pre-authorized amounts deducted from chequing regularly throughout the year. You’ll get the advantage of dollar cost averaging, improve your chances of maxing out your RRSP every year and get the advantage of tax-deferred compound growth working for you earlier. 4. Thinking only cash. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to contribute then consider moving investments from your non-registered plans to your RRSP. This ‘in-kind’ contribution can be made with various investments deemed eligible. You’ll have to report any capital gains earned on your investments up to the date of the transfer. 5. Over-contributing. You’re allowed a $2,000 lifetime over-contribution. If you exceed this, you may be subject to penalties of 1% per month. So before making a contribution check the Notice of Assessment the Canada Revenue Agency sent you for your allowable contribution room. 6. Dipping in prematurely. Cashing in a portion of your RRSP has significant tax consequences unless you’re doing so through the Home Buyers Plan or Lifelong Learning Program. First we’re required to imFebruary, 2012

mediately withhold between 10% and 30% of the amount withdrawn and forward it to the CRA on your behalf. Plus, your total withdrawal must be reported as income and taxed accordingly. In the end, the cash you’re left to spend may only be half of the amount initially taken out. So, cash in your RRSPs only as a last resort. 7. Forgetting to update beneficiaries. If you’ve had any major changes in your life, update who


you’ve designated as a beneficiary. 8. Not consolidating. Spreading your RRSP accounts across multiple investment firms may result in additional account fees and over-complicate the tracking of your investments. Plus, in order to make proper recommendations anyone advising you should have a full understanding of all your holdings, and their combined diversification and risk. Consider consolidating all your RRSPs in one place. 9. Not income splitting with your spouse. If you’re the family’s higher income earner you can invest some or all of your contributions in your spouse’s RRSP and claim the tax deduction. The big benefit comes at retirement when more equalized nest



eggs can reduce your combined tax bite and mean more cash to live on. 10. Not getting advice Talking to an investment expert on a regular basis can help you stay on top of your progress, your investments, and your options. If you find yourself making any of these mistakes, contact a certified financial planner to help you take a fresh, smarter, look at your investments.

JoAnn Pay is a Certifed Financial Planner at Libro Financial Group in St. Thomas.




A TFSA can be an excellent complement to an RRSP by Ellen Luft

The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a unique way for people, who are 18 years and older, to save more money by paying less tax. Every year an individual can contribute up to $5,000. Both TFSAs and RRSPs are Government of Canada sponsored savings plans with tax benefits. No one savings plan is more beneficial than the other. Both were designed to help Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money. RRSPs are meant for longterm retirement saving, while TFSAs allow for both short-term and longterm savings with flexibility. A TFSA can work in unison with an RRSP by maximizing retirement income when contribution limits to RRSPs have been reached. When do you choose a TFSA or an RRSP? One should choose an RRSP if your income before retirement is likely to be more than your income

at retirement. This allows for a lower income tax rate at retirement. If it is expected that your income before and after retirement will be equal, you can choose either a TFSA or an RRSP. When your income at retirement exceeds your income prior to retirement, a TFSA would be more beneficial. A TFSA will allow tax-free income withdrawals during retirement. When comparing TFSAs and RRSPs, there are few differences. Where contributions to an RRSP are

tax-deductible, contributions to a TFSA are not. When withdrawing money from an RRSP, the funds are considered earned income and are taxed as such. Since these funds are considered income, federal income based benefits and credits will be affected. Conversely, withdrawals from and moneys earned on the TFSA investment are tax-free. They have no effect on Government benefits and credits. This is something that can greatly impact seniors receiving Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.


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In retirement, you’ll primarily rely on pensions and savings to cover your expenses. None of us know for sure how long we’ll need those savings to last and mistakes like not investing wisely or withdrawing too much money can be difficult to fix. I can help you understand where you are today, determine the income you’ll need in retirement and recommend changes to help make it last your lifetime. Let’s talk about growth potential, tax efficiency, guarantees on your capital and innovative payout strategies. Call me today to get started on your plan. Mary Gillick, CFP EPC Executive Financial Consultant Investors Group Financial Services Inc. 254 Pall Mall Street Suite 100, London, On N6A 5P6 Ph. (519) 679-8993 Toll Free 1(888)679-8993

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Ellen Luft is an Investment Advisor with DWM Securities Inc. in St. Thomas. The views expressed are her own.

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February, 2012


Saving for retirement takes a back seat Canadians focus on jobs, rising healthcare costs and stock market performance by Raymond Bosveld

For 2012, one thing is clear: job security is a major worry for Canadians, according to a new poll commissioned by Edward Jones. When asked which of the following they were most concerned about for 2012, one-third (31 percent) of Canadians cited employment security. The concern has gone unchanged from a similar poll completed by Edward Jones in 2009. Not surprisingly, there has been a 10 percent rise in the concerns about healthcare costs (25 percent, up from 15 percent in 2009). Although, job security is still the biggest concern for half (51 percent) of young Canadians aged 18-34, they are also becoming increasingly worried about healthcare costs, as their concerns rose sharply from 8 percent in 2009 to 17 percent in 2011. Canadians aged 65+ are the most concerned overall (47 percent) about the cost of healthcare. "It's no surprise that job security continues to loom on the minds of Canadians as we continue to feel the effects of the economic recession," says Raymond Bosveld, an Edward Jones financial advisor in St. Thomas. "But while employment may seem like the priority, it is also vital for Canadians to prepare for the expected and unexpected costs of aging and retirement. Having a solid

long-term financial plan in place will help ease the fears of job insecurity and rising healthcare costs." Like healthcare costs, Canadians' concerns about stock market performance (21 percent, up from 19 percent) have increased since 2009. But nervousness about saving for retirement (unchanged at 14 percent) remains stable. Bosveld recommends the following tips to help Canadians prepare for the unexpected: • Stay one step ahead – Working with your financial advisor, set aside

cash reserves or put money in shorter-term securities. Investors should have a plan in place for dealing with unforeseen events like a job loss or sudden illness. • Plan for expenses – Try to estimate out-of-pocket expenses such as health or long-term care as "necessary expenses" and factor these into your overall budget. Consider what other expenses you might have to worry about if you leave or change your job. • Focus on what you can control – No investment performs well under

all conditions, so don't make emotional decisions based on short-term market fluctuations. Staying diversified and taking a long-term outlook can help smooth out the normal upsand-downs of the market. Working with your financial advisor to prepare for the expected – and unexpected – will help to make sure that healthcare and saving for retirement don't take a back seat.

Raymond Bosveld is a financial advisor at Edward Jones in St. Thomas.

Dreaming Up the Ideal Retirement Is Your Job. Helping You Get There Is Ours. Maybe your idea of retirement is having a second career or working part time, volunteering or indulging in your favourite hobbies. Doing the things you want to do is what retirement should be about.

Before you make your retirement investment decision this year, let’s talk about: đ Whether you’re saving enough đ Whether your retirement plan needs some adjustments to help you reach your retirement goals đ How much you want to spend in retirement đ How you can reduce your taxes* *Edward Jones, its employees and Edward Jones advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Review your situation with your tax advisor or legal professional for information regarding, or issues concerning, the tax implications of making a particular investment or taking any other action.

job security continues to loom large in the minds of Canadians February, 2012

To see if your retirement plan matches your idea of retirement, call for a personal retirement review. Kelly Ruddock 584 Talbot St., St. Thomas 519-633-7824

Kelvin Saarloos 310 Wellington St., Unit 5, St. Thomas 519-637-0305

Scott Carrie 534 Elm St., St. Thomas 519-631-4282

Ray Bosveld 300 S. Edgeware Unit 2, St. Thomas 519-633-4334

Paul Bode 287 Talbot St. W., Aylmer 519-773-8226 Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund






Real world experience Involvement in Junior Achievement helped Dan Kelly succeed – and now he’s giving back by Dorothy Gebert

“If kids are looking for an edge,” says Dan Kelly, “being involved in Junior Achievment is experience they’re not going to get in high school.” Dan should know. When he was in his teens growing up in London, he was active in Junior Achievement (JA) companies for three years. Now as controller at Dowler-Karn Fuels in St. Thomas, Dan feels that early experience helped him a lot. Junior Achievement is an organization that teaches young people about success in business through several different programs. But its flagship high school program helps students learn about business by running a business. “I heard about JA in my Grade 11

Dan Kelly gives advice on improving a business plan to board members of the St. Thomas Junior Achievement company, Between Bindings: Taylor Spinney, President, Brittany Miller, VP Finance and Tess Ward, VP of Human Resources.

marketing class,” Dan says. It sounded interesting to him so he got involved and was part of a company that manufactured backgammon boards. “We thought it was a great idea,

Congratulations to Junior Achievement on another successful year!

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but it didn’t turn out to be,” he says, shaking his head with a laugh. “But it was a great learning experience.” In his second and third years with the program, the companies he was involved with were more successful. “JA helped me understand what I wanted to do,” Dan says. “I made lifelong friends and learned leadership and personal skills. And it definitely helped my self-confidence and drew me out of my shell.” He went on to study economics at the University of Western Ontario and eventually attained his Certified General Accountant certification. Because he felt JA had made a difference in his life, Dan was more than happy to volunteer his time to help mentor and advise students in the program in St. Thomas, one of the JA groups in the London & District area. “I get a lot of satisfaction in watching students work through a problem,” he says. “Seeing the light bulb go off is why I do it.” This year, the JA company in St. Thomas is called Between Bindings. It manufactures and sells copper bookmarks. “There are 17 in the program this year from Arthur Voaden, Central, East Elgin and Parskide secondary schools,” Dan says. “The company consists of a president, five vice-presidents and employees, but everybody gets the opportunity to sell and produce.” As well as learning the planning, manufacturing, selling and financial aspects of the business throughout the 17-week program, students also



earn a salary, sales commissions and shareholder earnings. “This is not a simulation. We’re playing with real money here,” Dan says. “The wages may not be realistic, but the concepts are.” Dan has recently taken on the role of JA Ambassador for Elgin County to increase awareness and help recruit more students and volunteers. “We’ve got one program running in St. Thomas right now, and we hope to have two,” he says. “But we need volunteers who can help teach business concepts and act as advisors.” He emphasizes that the work is challenging but the satisfaction and rewards are worth it. “The kids are driving the bus and most of the time the advisors are sitting on the bus watching,” Dan says. “But if they start to go off the edge, we’re there to grab the steering wheel.”

RESOURCES Junior Achievement

Dorothy Gebert is editor of the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News and Elgin This Month. February, 2012


Junior Achievement makes a difference

Inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy Financial literacy JA programs produce more financially literate graduates who save more and borrow less than the average Canadian; and, Junior Achievers themselves believe JA to be the driving force behind their heightened financial literacy skills of budgeting, long-term planning and investing. The result; more solvent citizens who put a lower burden on the social safety net, provide for their own retirement and are a more active investor base. Work readiness JA graduates believe that participa-

tion in JA programs had a significant impact on their desire to stay in school and pursue a post-secondary education, and their ability to get a job and perform at work. As a result, Junior Achievers are better prepared for the workforce. The result; accelerated career tracks, altered trajectories and more skilled employees for employers. Entrepreneurship JA produces graduates who are more likely to become entrepreneurs, create jobs and power our economy. These future business leaders attribute JA as being the catalyst that gave

them the ambition to open their own business, and the transformational force that empowered them with the skills and abilities to do so successfully. These new enterprises and net new jobs will drive the economic engine that will create increased prosperity and help close the productivity gap moving forward. JA is the successful link between education and the business world, giving youth the confidence and knowledge they need to define personal success, enhance their workforce readiness and pursue their dreams. Furthermore, JA inspires youth to make informed, educated and knowledgeable financial decisions, start companies, develop career plans and express their innovative spirit. In short, JA in Canada is making an impact.

For over 55 years, as the largest youth education organization in Canada, Junior Achievement (JA) has been inspiring and preparing more than 2.7 million youth to succeed in an ever-changing global economy. Last year alone, more than 216,000 students, in 400+ communities, benefited from JA programs that were delivered by over 13,000 dedicated business mentors who presented in excess of 1.4 million hours of instructional time.  Each day, Junior Achievement staff and volunteers located in the National and 15 Charter offices across Canada work hard toward the attainment of one common goal - to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Guided by core values, JA aspires to be recognized by businesses, educators and policymakers across the country as the premiere organization for inspiring and preparing youth to be successful, contributing members of a global society. Results of a study,  conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, entitled “Making an Impact, Assessing Junior Achievement of Canada’s Value Creation,” would suggest JA is over-delivering on all three of its main pillars:

JA is the successful link between education and the business world

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Steed and Company Lavender

A story of a horse, a farm and a feast for the senses

the heady fragrance of lavender”

by Kate Burns

Finding a home for a show horse has lead to one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations. Steed and Company Lavender was created when Suzanne Steed was looking for a farm for her show horse and came upon a property outside the historical village of Sparta. The lavender farm is part of a 45acre horse farm nestled at the edge of the spectacular Carolinian forest and is designated as an Area of Natural Special Interest (ANSI) by the Ministry of Natural Resources. From this natural setting grew the idea of a lavender farm as the perfect combination of design and wellness. Steed & Company Lavender grows several varieties of English lavender landscaped into beautiful gardens integrated into the natural beauty of the rural setting. Suzanne is committed to protecting the natural heritage of the property and does so by practising ecologically sensitive growing methods including no pesticides and manual weed control. You are invited to stroll through the lavender flowers and enjoy the experience of the unique heady fragrance 24

of lavender and the outstanding natural features of the property where by chance you may even see one of a nesting pair of bald eagles in flight. Steed and Company offers events throughout the year including their Lavender Festival in June. The gift shop opened in late 2007 and offers exquisite handcrafted lavender products including toiletries, home essentials and a full range of culinary lavender products. Suzanne started with more obvious recipes for her culinary line, but has experimented widely to include lavender chocolate and lavender coffee. Drawing from the experience gained from a healthcare background, the ingredients for the products are chosen with great care. Local, natural and where possible organic ingredients are used. For products not produced at the farm, Steed and Company is committed to working with local businesses and responsible sourcing. Steed and Company’s’ specialty foods are also available at Kingsmill's Department Store and Remark Fresh Markets, London; The Buzz Stop and Anything Grows, Stratford; Culinarium, Toronto and for that hard to buy E L G I N

Steed and Company is a member of Savour Elgin. Savour Elgin is a program with a goal to promote and enhance culinary tourism in Elgin County and St. Thomas. The Savour Elgin trail is a route through Elgin County that visits some of the best restaurants, farms, wineries, and other culinary attractions that focus on food and drink that’s local and unique to Elgin County and St. Thomas. For full trail information visit

for friend across the country, Steed and Company ships to anywhere in Canada. Steed and Company opens for the 2012 season on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13. Before then you can join them at the Stratford Garden Festival March 1-4 or visit them online at



Kate Burns is the business development coordinator at the County of Elgin.

February, 2012


How a trip to Denmark inspired thoughts of different ways of tasting wine

the more vintages, the greater the experience

by Jamie Quai

Over Christmas, I had the opportunity to get away for a little vacation. My wife and I found ourselves visiting extended family living in a small town in the south of Denmark called Maribo. Denmark, like Canada, is a country that, while having a small domestic wine industry, does not dominate its own market. I envy the Danes. While taxed at a rate that, even to a Canadian wine lover, seems excessive, wine can be sold in grocery stores, markets, boutique wine shops and even convenience stores. I absolutely loved that each sales venue, while carrying some identical products, genuinely tailored their selection to the customer they targeted. The boutique carried higher end wines, the convenience store carried all the vogue 'buzz' wines. One of the biggest complaints I have with our distribution system, the LCBO, is that, because it has been forced upon us as a one-stop shop and since their political goodstanding is based largely on their fiscal bottom lines, there is less impetus to carry the boutique or niche craft wines that don’t move as quickly, let alone past vintages. On one of my morning walks in Maribo, I entered a local wine shop and was astounded. There were less than 100 producers represented, the shop wasn't huge, yet the owners had made an obvious effort to carry products they enjoyed. And in a feat rarely seen in Canada, the shop carried back vintages. Doing a tasting of the same wine across different years is referred to as a vertical. Often, as a winemaker, I

do verticals of my back vintages when blending new vintages to ensure a stylistic consistency. Conversely, trying all the wines from one vintage is called a horizontal. Winery tourists are often, unintentionally, doing a horizontal tasting when they visit a winery. I left the shop with a small vertical of Gewurztaminers from an Alsatian producer. I hadn’t planned on the

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purchase but the chance was too good to pass up. The purchase was a bittersweet moment walking away from the store – both excited at the tasting ahead and sad that when I came home, as a wine lover, tasting a vertical would mean years of collecting as new vintages are released, or travelling to my favourite vintners in the hopes they keep and will part with their back vintages.

Jamie Quai is head winemaker at Quai du Vin Estate Winery in Elgin County.

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February, 2012

If you've never had the opportunity to taste a vertical, I highly recommend it. Quality-minded producers pride themselves on stylistic consistency between vintages. This usually means the nuances of a vineyard or growing season will shine. While you need at least two different years to host a vertical, my experience has shown that the more vintages, the greater the experience. One of my most memorable vertical tasting experiences was an Ontario Pinot Noir tasting of 10 wines spanning 18 years. Aside from different vintage years and (ideally) the same producer, there really are no restrictions. Any wine region will do, and the wines don’t have to be pricey. My only suggestions are to stay away from the lower-end wines that aren’t generally meant to age, to pour all the wines at once, and to taste from most recent to oldest. I brought several of the bottles home and plan to open them the next time we host friends. In the meantime, I keep on collecting vintages on my own, waiting patiently for the day our wine-shop monopoly enters a more progressive era of wine sales. Maybe we in Ontario could look to Denmark as a model for wine sales success. Skål (Cheers)!


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That it will never come again makes life so sweet.

Emily Dickinson

Impatient to grow up But a mother isn’t always so excited about the process by Elizabeth VanHooren

It happened. I knew it was coming, but still I was unprepared. It was going to be a great weekend. My two nephews aged eleven and six had come for a sleep over. This is a big deal for my eldest son who considers his cousins not just relatives but his “best friends.” He has learned just about everything from them – the good and the bad. He loves Thomas the Train, because they love Thomas the Train. He can spit because they taught him. And he is going to go to school just like them some day. These days it’s all I hear about. It starts at breakfast when he asks what time it is. No matter what I say he

replies, “Then I better hurry up. I’m going to be late for school.” Then he finishes his oatmeal, gets down from the table and proceeds to pack his backpack up with all the things he will need at school. Usually this consists of various trains, some plastic food and a dinosaur. He stops for a quick kiss goodbye and then proceeds to the dining room where he sits on the piano bench and waits for the school bus to come. The school bus won’t stop at our place until September, but the fact is my three year-old is almost four and desperately wants to show some independence. He can reach light switches, dress himself, put toothpaste on his own toothbrush and open the fridge door – yes he can all by himself. And all because – as he constantly reminds me

– “I’m almost four years old.” Most days I can deal with the fact that he is growing up and needs me less and less. After all, the fact that life’s moments – our first steps, our first words and first smile – will never happen again is what makes life so sweet. But I have to admit I took it rather hard when my son, aged three and half, didn’t want to hold my hand anymore. I could tell he was embarrassed. Walking into the grocery store with his big cousins, he and I held each other’s hand as we have always done since he started walking. But when he saw his cousins walking ahead – he pulled his little hand from mine and ran to catch up. There are seven months and nineteen days until his first day of school.

In that time I will busy myself teaching him how to print his name, count to ten and how to hold scissors properly. And I will think about the day he pulled his hand from mine to remind myself that he is ready and that life is sweet.

Elizabeth VanHooren is general manager of the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.

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February, 2012


It’s never been a better time to buy a house

Low mortgage rates continue to drive affordability by Brian Lippold

In university, I avoided Finance 101 like the plague. At that time, I was a perpetual renter and didn’t have a penny to invest, so there was really no harm in not knowing. A couple years after university, I had saved up enough for the downpayment on a small, starter house and found out quickly how confusing the process can be to a first-time buyer. It turned out that it was almost as confusing the second, third and even the fourth time. Each time that I went to shop, the game had changed; the rates as well as the lending conditions were a moving target. Thankfully, I was able to depend on some great advice from a family friend. He was a certified, licensed mortgage broker. He encouraged me not to fear the process. However, he urged me to be cautious of the hidden costs of home ownership. He wisely said, “Buy what you can afford, not necessarily what you want or think that you can afford.” He prepared me for the possibility of mortgage rate increases and what those increases translated into over time in terms of affordability. Fuelled by recent fiscal insecurity within the European Union, The Bank of Canada has kept prime lending rates low. Such a global climate is making the cost of a mortgage the most affordable it has been since before my parents bought their first home. There are three great things about being a home buyer today: mortgage rates remain at all-time lows; even with exit penalties paid on certain mid-term fixed mortgages, you can often renegotiate a better rate; and there is great market competition between lenders. Homeownership doesn't have to be a risk. Paul Nicli of the Royal Bank in St. Thomas offers some great advice: • A shorter amortization period will mean higher monthly payments but will ultimately reduce the amount of interest you pay over the term. • Consider weekly or bi-weekly February, 2012

payment schedules instead of monthly payments. If you have the means to do this, it will save you considerably over the term. • Increase your regular monthly payment or if your mortgage permits. • Make lump-sum payments to decrease your interest over the life of your mortgage (assuming your mortgage permits additional payments). • Take caution by not assuming too much debt. Calculate and even exaggerate the other costs involved in ownership, such as property taxes, energy bills and potential repairs or upgrades. • Seek expert advice! Ask your Certified Mortgage Professional to define any term that you do not


understand. On December 1, 2011, the C.D. Howe Institute’s Monetary Policy Council (MPC) recommended that the Bank of Canada maintain its current rate. They said that the risks that Europe’s fiscal problems pose to the international financial system and the world economy are so severe that the MPC called for the Bank’s overnight rate to stay at 1.00 percent through the end of 2012. Interest rates will eventually normalize. With the correction in the market looming, you may want to consult a local professional. Our current global economic climate may present an opportunity for you to either consider first-time home ownership or improve the terms of an



existing residential mortgage. Paul Nicli is a Mortgage Specialist and a long-time STEHBA member. He is always happy to provide mortgage advice. He can be reached by phone at 519-637-7283. You may also email him at if you have specific mortgage questions. Brian Lippold is Manager of Builder Markets at Reliance Home Comfort™ and Vice-President of the St.Thomas & Elgin Homebuilder’s Association.


by Dr. Greg Johnston B.H.K., B.Ed., D.C

A recent article in the Windsor Star newspaper entitled “Use Fewer Painkillers, Critics Urge” discussed the growing concern over the ever-increasing use of powerful and dangerous medications. It warned that a wave of new prescription painkillers presents a potential danger to society. The article presented some very interesting and disturbing information about the use of a family of drugs called opioids. Opioids are psychoactive drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the nervous system. They decrease the perception of pain and are among the world’s oldest known drugs, exhibiting similar analgesic effects to the opium poppy. Examples of drugs in this category include Oxycontin, Dilaudid, Morphine, Demerol, Oxycodone, Hydromorph Contin and Codeine. Heroin is also an opioid. The article stated that pharmaceutical companies have made billions and billions of dollars on these drugs and over the past 20 years more than 100,000 people have died in North America and probably many millions of people have become addicted to these drugs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently released a report calling the number of opioid-related deaths an “epidemic,” noting that more people now die from opioids than from heroin and cocaine combined. There appears to be a similar trend in Canada. In a 2009 Canadian Medical Association Journal article, research showed that between 1991 and 2007 opioid prescriptions rose 29 percent in Canada. Opioid-related deaths doubled between 1991 and 2004. Prescriptions of oxycodone increased 850 percent between 1991 and 2007 and the addition of long-acting oxycodone was associated with a five-fold increase in oxycodone-related deaths.

Are painkilling drugs the only way to treat chronic pain? An alarming increase in the use of painkillers is reaching epidemic proportions

With all the concerns about the risks of these opioid drugs, many experts in the area are questioning why there is such a huge increase in their usage. The commonly accepted indications for the use of these drugs include the treatment of the severe and acute pain associated with post-surgical pain, the treatment of chronic and often severe pain associated with terminal cancer and other severe degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The controversy stems from the increasing use of these drugs for the treatment of chronic pain that does not fall into one of the above categories. A registered nurse and pain management consultant is quoted in

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longterm use of these drugs is proving to be dangerous

the Windsor Star article as saying that, “battling chronic pain through the long-term use of medication is a fiction perpetuated by those that seem to have a vested interest in the industry.” To be more specific, examples of situations where the use of these drugs is being criticized includes long-term chronic pain of musculoskeletal origin such as in chronic back or neck pain. Dr. Roman Jovey, a general practitioner and spokesperson for the Canadian Pain Society, says, “We continue to struggle to treat chronic pain. It is the most underserviced domain in Canada.” He goes on to say that the best treatment for these conditions is an interdisciplinary, multi-modal treatment. So what is an “interdisciplinary, multi-modal treatment”? These treatments include the use of medications but only as one part of a multidisciplinary approach which also may include physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, exercise therapy,



acupuncture, psychological counseling and meditation. As well it is important to discover the types of activities or work requirements that may be contributing to the chronic pain and develop adaptations and changes to alleviate the main instigating factors contributing to the problem. In theory the use of narcotic/opioid pain medications is intended to be only a short-term solution to control pain of musculoskeletal origin until a more comprehensive permanent treatment plan can be developed. Longterm use of these drugs is proving to be dangerous and ultimately in many cases ineffective in managing these types of conditions. Patients that find themselves in situations where the use of these medications is the only tool being used to help them manage their pain should seek out alternative therapies in the hopes of finally freeing themselves of their long-term chronic pain.

Dr. Greg Johnston is a chiropractor and partner in Family Health Options Treatment and Resources Centre in St. Thomas. February, 2012


Go smoke free Employers can lead the way in encouraging smokers to quit the habit

by Jessica Lang

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) has been in effect since May 31, 2006. Since that time, all indoor workplaces, including workplace vehicles in Ontario have been required to be smoke-free. Studies from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit have since proven that the SFOA has decreased employer and employee exposure to second-hand smoke, while creating a healthier work environment for all. Smoke-free workplaces benefit the overall health of employees and contribute to increased productivity and decreased lost time. Health Canada estimates that increased absenteeism and decreased productivity due to tobacco use can cost an employer up to $3,396 per employee. Ensuring compliance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act while also encouraging and supporting smokers who want to

quit, are ways in which employers can reduce the burden tobacco use can have on a workplace. Employers are responsible for: • Ensuring that employees are aware that smoking is prohibited in the enclosed workplace. This can be accomplished by reminding employees about the Act during an all staff meeting, by distributing a memorandum of understanding, a newsletter, an email or another type of communication. • Removing ashtrays and any other object that serves as one (i.e. a pop can or other receptacle) • Ensuring that no one smokes in the workplace • Ensuring that if a person does not comply with the prohibition on smoking, that they do not remain in the enclosed workplace • Posting No Smoking signs at all entrances, exits, washrooms and other appropriate locations in order

to ensure that everyone knows that smoking is prohibited. Tobacco Enforcement Officers conduct routine inspections, followup with complaints, and provide education to local employers in an effort to ensure compliance with the legislation. However, employers can be fined up to a maximum of $300,000 for not ensuring compliance with the Act, while employees can be fined up to a maximum of $5,000. Elgin St. Thomas Public Health has recently launched a campaign to remind employers and employees alike, that smoking is prohibited inside a workplace vehicle. To avoid unnecessary warnings and fines, post signage inside all workplace vehicles to remind those who smoke that smoking is prohibited. With New Year’s resolutions in full swing, employers can help support employees trying to quit by running

workplace quit smoking contests, hosting lunch and learn sessions, and offering to subsidize a portion of the cost of quit smoking medications in the employee health benefit plan. Speak to your benefit plan provider about adding this to your plan.

Jessica Lang coordinates the Smoke Free Ontario Strategy for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

RESOURCES Signs can be obtained from Elgin St. Thomas Public Health by calling 519-631-9900 ext. 253 or ext. 304.


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Bathtub inspires brain wave Can scrub-induced endorphins give St. Thomas an edge, or is this idea all wet? by Duncan Watterworth


I’m just another retired guy with a plumbing problem. So it seems immodest to compare myself with Archimedes, the legendary Greek scientist who had a brilliant idea while in his bathtub, and ran naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!” But I also had a eureka moment in the bath. And I was bathing under protest, unlike Archimedes, who apparently liked baths. My plumbing problem is that my shower isn’t working, so I have been forced to bathe while I wait for new plumbing parts. I am a shower guy. I don’t do baths. In a tub, I feel like a soup bone in my own broth. So while stewing in the tub, my thoughts drifted back to a better place – the hammam I recently visited in Morocco. Hammams are the communal scrub-fests – sometimes called Turkish baths – found throughout the Islamic world. Sure, I was apprehensive when I first entered the hammam. But as my fridge magnet says, “Ever Notice That ‘What The Hell’ Is Always The Right Decision?” In the dressing room, I took off my clothes and met my attendant – fortyish, blue trunks, mustache. And since you are wondering – do you think I wasn’t? – one

my bathwater started to shake with the possibilities

keeps one’s underwear on throughout the process. He led me to a hot, steamy room with a white tile floor and walls. As I lay on the floor on my front and then my back, he went over me almost everywhere with an abrasive mitt, using a black, olive-oil soap. Pails of hot water provided a rinse. The massage that followed involved him standing over me as I lay


on my stomach, pulling both my arms skyward, and pummeling my back with his heel. But afterward I felt invigorated, my skin soft and rejuvenated. And here’s the thing: most of all I felt happy, expansive, full of goodwill. And all the other guys in the place were relaxed, chatting and laughing. I felt we could have solved the problems of the world right there, if only I spoke Arabic. And then it hit me, right in the tub. Eureka! St. Thomas needs a hammam! It could be a multi-functional dispute-solving and networking facility. My bathwater started to shake with the possibilities. City council budget discussions, for instance. Shed the clothes, get the feel-good endorphins flowing, and squeeze a deal. Labour/management issues could be settled. Or neighbourhood disputes. Politicians could extend their open-door availability. Just take it to the hammam! Anyone could get a jolt of goodwill and human kindness. The hammam would also be a great



place for networking, like a wellscrubbed, moisturized Business After 5. Oh, the ripples. It would be an incubator for cross-pollinating ideas, a bloom of innovation. It could become the focus of local business culture, the new town square, the wellspring of a local renaissance. It could be the economic edge our community has been looking for. Eureka. So that’s my idea. Whew. I might have run naked down the street, but it is winter, after all. And now it’s up to the Chamber, the politicians, the community boosters to seize this idea and run with it. Make a splash, St. Thomas!

Duncan Watterworth is recently a retiree and emptynester in St.Thomas.

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February, 2012

February 2012 Issue  

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