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U.S. Thousand Islands businesses feel the loss of Canadian customers

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KINGSTON, ONT. —
As the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel, business owners on the American side say they feeling the loss of their Canadian customers.

Kassi Pharoah is a server at Buster’s Restaurant in Ogdensburg, New York, located right near the Ogdensburg International Airport.

She says it’s common for people from places like Ottawa and eastern Ontario to treat the American city as their own.

“A lot of Canadian customers, taking their animals to the vet, coming in to catch a flight, getting their cars fixed,” explains Pharoah. “Sometimes the men would go golfing and the wives would go shopping. We don’t see that anymore.”

In fact, Pharoah says Canadians accounted for about 40 per cent of their business. Over the years, some even became friends.

“Our regular customers, when some of the girls have gone on to have kids, they’ve come over with baby shower gifts. We talk about different trips we know they’re going on, we see them on the way out for their vacations, we see them on the way back as well,” she explains. “We absolutely miss them.”

While she says she understands why they’re not visiting, the loss is felt, as hours and staff are cut.

Non-essential travel restrictions have been in place across the Canada-US border since March because of COVID-19.

Corey Fram, Director of Tourism with the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, says data from Statistics Canada show that in April of 2019, about 18,000 Canadians drove across the border for day trips.

This year, with the border closed, places like Ogdensburg, Watertown, and Syracuse are feeling the effects.

“It’s a little bit difficult to kind of continue to look at this region at this time as a truly bi-national area,” he says. “So many folks are relatives, cousins, teammates, and right now we’re separated.”

Fram says businesses understand why the closures are happening, but are hoping for a way to move forward.

“These two countries rely on each other and, in particular, these two regions rely on each other,” he says. “How are we going to get back there, and when?”

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Bruce Power recertified at highest level by Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

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Bruce Power has been awarded a Gold level certification for the third time by Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) for excellence in Indigenous relations.

This is the highest level of recognition offered by the CCAB. Bruce Power was awarded gold in 2014 and 2017, and the company is one of only 18 in Canada to have received the designation.

“We’re honoured to have received this recognition for a third time, and we are grateful to Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business for its recognition of our efforts,” said David Abbott, Bruce Power’s Director, Indigenous Relations and Business Partnerships. “We’ve spent many years forging a strong relationship with the Indigenous communities which host our site upon their traditional territories. We have listened to and learned from each other, and have collaborated on many projects that will have lasting benefits for Indigenous communities.”

The Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Program is a comprehensive initiative offered by CCAB that supports improvement and best practices in Indigenous relations. A gold-certified company means the PAR criteria is ingrained at all levels of the business, driven through policy, strategy, mature processes and innovative enhancements over a number of years. A gold organization has a high level of appreciation of the significance of positive Indigenous relations. They are a role model for Indigenous relations with a continuous-improvement philosophy, with positive results and good support from Indigenous communities.

“We are thrilled that yet again, Bruce Power has demonstrated its commitment to Indigenous prosperity and economic reconciliation supported by our PAR program,” said Tabatha Bull, president and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. “This gold certification demonstrates the company’s dedication to Indigenous relations through all aspects of their business.

“Congratulations on your hard work, Bruce Power.”

Bruce Power submitted its PAR application in June, the details of which were then verified by an independent third party in August. Bruce Power’s outcomes and initiatives in four performance areas – employment, business development, community investment and community engagement – were reviewed by a jury of Indigenous business people before the gold designation was granted.

“I want to congratulate Bruce Power for its third recertification by CCAB for their exceptional relationships with Indigenous communities across the province,” said Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Bruce Power continues to develop meaningful partnerships with Indigenous businesses and communities across the province, helping to build a robust nuclear industry and supply chain here in Ontario.”

To learn more about the CCAB visit www.ccab.com. To learn more about Bruce Power’s Indigenous Relations program, visit www.brucepower.com/in-the-community/community-programs/indigenous-relations/.

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Fed up with city council, business owner withdraws offer to donate amber lights for Winnipeg school zones

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Chuck Lewis says he’s had enough with bureaucracy and politics at Winnipeg’s city hall, and is pulling an offer to install amber flashing lights in Winnipeg school zones.

“It’s been going on long and the cost goes up every year … so at some point, you have to just take a step back,” Lewis said Thursday.

The owner of Expert Electric initially made an offer more than five years ago to donate two solar-powered flashing lights in each city school zone.

The city launched a process to examine the proposal and accepted the gift in 2019, but there were many details to sort out in a formal agreement.

A draft agreement would have seen Lewis install 480 units, at a minimum rate of two units per month.

The city eventually determined some school zones needed more than two units, and said it would need to install 391 additional lights, at an estimated cost of nearly $1.4 million. There was no approved budget for the additional lights.

Lewis installed some flashing lights last winter on Bedson Street, to pilot his offer of installing two lights per school zone across the city. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Lewis says he signed an agreement with the city this spring on the donation, but was later told the employee with whom he’d signed the document had left their job, and it needed to be redone. 

He finally threw in the towel on Thursday, when he heard decisions on the donation had been referred to another committee.

“I thought this fall we were rolling this out,” he said.

The matter was the subject of much back-and-forth between councillors on the city’s property, planning and development committee and members of the city’s public service at the committee’s Thursday meeting.

Among other issues, concerns were raised about which zones might be equipped first, whether priority would be given to those that had higher instances of speeding tickets, how the city would budget for its costs, and whether the property and planning committee was even the appropriate place to discuss traffic and public works issues.

“I would hate to see us lose a willing partner in this,” said chair Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) before the councillors voted.

That’s what happened in the end — after the committee voted three to one in favour of sending the matter to the city’s executive policy committee, Lewis withdrew his offer.

Waverely West Coun. Janice Lukes was the lone dissenter in the vote. 

“It’s been here for two years and I think we really need to make a decision on this,” she said.

Lewis, for his part, was fed up with the process.

“This whole thing is about children’s safety and not money. And why wouldn’t you start rolling out the lights? The only reason they’re not, it’s about the money,” Lewis told CBC News.

The electrical contractor rejected the idea he should stick out the process at city hall, saying his own personal costs had risen beyond what he’d expected. After several years of trying, he says he saw no end to the delays in getting the project completed. 

“You’re constantly fighting or trying to wrap your mind around what you can do next to try to get it passed.”

Politicians express regret at loss of donation 

Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood), who had championed Lewis’s cause, expressed dismay the donation had been rescinded.

“I’m going to work with Mr. Lewis and others to bring it back in a different fashion and try to find another way,” Klein said. “It is really disappointing to see this become political.”

In a statement, Gilroy said the loss of the offer was “unfortunate.”

Mayor Brian Bowman also expressed regret through a spokesperson.

“The mayor has been supportive of accepting the donation and will discuss this matter with his council colleagues, and have more to say after Monday’s [executive policy committee] meeting,” the statement said.

Lewis says he may consider starting the process again, but not until there is a change of government at city hall.

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New resources from OPC to help businesses manage breaches and keep personal information safe

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) this week introduced a series of videos and other resources to help businesses address breaches, and follow breach record-keeping obligations and other legal requirements.

As part of the breach record-keeping obligations, which became mandatory on November 1, 2018, businesses subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) are required to report to the OPC breaches of security safeguards involving personal information that pose a real risk of significant harm to individuals. Business must also notify affected individuals about those breaches, and keep records of them. 

Related:

Canadian firms now must report serious data breaches: Get ready for more victim lawsuits [IT World Canada]

 

In its 2019 breach record inspections, the OPC says it engaged with seven telecommunications companies as a first on-the-ground assessment of the state of compliance with these obligations and found that in general, the telecommunications industry has record-keeping systems in place and the companies it visited appeared to be taking their obligations seriously. At the same time, the Office observed key areas where opportunities for improved compliance are evident.

The OPC notes on its website that 40 per cent of sample records about breaches did not include sufficient information for the Office to adequately understand the organization’s assessment of whether the breach created a Real Risk of Significant Harm (RROSH). The review revealed that organizations need to enhance their assessment and recording of information about how they assessed RROSH.

“Importantly, breach records need to include details that can explain the basis for the organization’s RROSH assessment, particularly in cases where the breach did not create an RROSH. This information should be included in breach records as this will allow the OPC to verify compliance with breach reporting and notification requirements in PIPEDA,” the OPC says.

The Office has therefore developed a series of six videos to help businesses understand what breach reporting is, how they can assess the risks of significant harm, business obligations for reporting breaches, how they can submit an effective breach report, when and how they should notify organizations and people, and how they can keep all necessary records. 

The OPC says these videos have been designed to help businesses open up a discussion with their staff on what they should do to protect the personal information of customers, clients, and their own employees and ensure the business is prepared in the event of a breach.  Additional information related to breaches and other privacy issues is available in a suite of guidance documents aimed to help businesses. A breach reporting portal that allows businesses to submit their breach reports and receive a file number to facilitate future communication about the report, was also included in this week’s OPC care package.

 


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