Workplace Mental Health Top of Mind 

By: Kerri Davies, Manager of Development, Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge

May 2nd to 8th is Mental Health Week, a good time to talk about Mental Health in the Workplace. In 2013 the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.  This document was developed to help organizations
strive towards a vision of a workplace that works to prevent harm to worker’s psychological health while also promoting psychological well-being.  

According to The Standards, “Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety are better able to recruit and retain talent, have improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, are more creative and innovative, and have higher profit levels.” The study indicates the economic cost of mental health problems and illness to the Canadian economy is at least $50 billion per year. This was 2.8% of Canada’s gross domestic product, in 2011. 500,000 Canadians in any given week are unable to work due to mental health problems and 1 in 3 disability claims are related to mental illness. Furthermore, stress causes 19% of absenteeism, 40% of turnover, and 60% of workplace accidents. 

At the end of the day, while we know that mental illness will affect 1 in 3 over a lifetime, ultimately mental illness affects us all. With only 50% of individuals living with mental illness ever seeking help – most often due to stigma – workplaces play a significant role in helping to reduce that stigma and helping people to find supports to enable them to live mentally healthy and productive lives – to the benefit our whole community.



Chamber Network supports mental health strategy

In May of 2015, the Ontario Chamber Network went on record with recommendations to the provincial government on the issue of mental health and the workplace.  


  1. Develop a comprehensive workplace mental health strategy that emphasizes mental health awareness, education and rehabilitation for employees. The strategy must not be prescriptive or place an additional burden on businesses but should instead be focused on improving mental health awareness.
  2. Broaden the focus of regional mental health centres to include workplace mental health issues enabling them to refer to agencies or for-profit local providers to treat employees of local workplaces by providing workplace-oriented programs.
  3. Create a public education and awareness campaign on the social and economic value of workplace mental health and the availability of community workplace-oriented resources.


According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the total economic cost arising from mental health problems and illnesses is at least $50 billion per year. Health care, social services and income support costs make up the biggest proportion of these costs, but the costs to business are also staggering: Canadian businesses experience $6.4 billion in lost productivity (from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover) every year. If left unabated,the cost to business will increase to $16.0 billion by 2041.



Who's who at Peterborough Economic Development

Peterborough Economic Development is a community partner of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  

Today, Peterborough Economic Development (PED) is hosting its Annual General Meeting.  Three new board members will be joining the ranks, including myself.  I am extremely excited to be joining this board as it enters a new era of collaboration, focus and leadership.  Economic development is about building our community in a way that is sustainable, innovative and purposeful.  It is a community effort that I look forward to championing. 

PED's current five year strategic plan  has an overarching commitment to think big and challenge the status quo by:

  • Igniting the transformation towards a high-performing economy and outperforming* Ontario’s economic growth averages over the long term.
  • Working with the private sector to provide desirable job opportunities, encourage enhanced and sustainable prosperity, and quality of life within the community.
  • Leveraging resources and increasing organizational and community economic development capacity (our ability to grow the economy).
  • Enhancing community collaboration and partnerships.

“We continue to lead the transformation of Peterborough’s economy to generate job-creating leads, uncover opportunities and put Peterborough on the map as a place to live, work, invest and visit, and ultimately, create results for the communities we serve,”says Rhonda Keenan, President & CEO, Peterborough Economic Development.

So who is working for our community at PED?  

The Board of Directors and 12 staff dedicated to economic development and 6 dedicated to tourism in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.  Here is the leadership team.

Rhonda Keenan

As President & CEO, I lead and mobilize the organization to achieve its mission and vision. I bring a collaborative approach to developing partnerships and working with community stakeholders to deliver on our strategic plan and operations. Together, our mission is to lead Peterborough’s economic growth by attracting talent, innovation and investments that create desirable jobs and an irresistible place to live, learn and visit. 



Lorne Kelsey

As Director of Investment Expansion, I build and lead the strategies, key relationships and partnerships that enable the Investment Expansion team to attract and retain the talent and investments in the Peterborough region that ultimately lead to the creation and development of quality jobs and an irresistible place to live. I work closely with government agencies such as the Ontario East Economic Development Commission and the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation to seek investment opportunities. I also search for local opportunities with innovation, academia, research and development and commercialization functions to maximize investment expansion in the community.


Fiona Dawson

As Director of Tourism & Communications, I coordinate the promotion of Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism, Peterborough Economic Development and the services we offer within Peterborough & the Kawarthas to targeted regional, national and global markets. I also lead both the tourism and communications teams in attracting visitors and larger scale tourism related investments to the local economy which ultimately creates desirable jobs, and increases visitation to and spending in the region.


Barb van Vierzen
As Director of Operations & Finance, I develop and manage the processes and support systems that help ensure the smooth functioning of the PED organization so that staff can successfully fulfil their mission.




For more information on the PED team go to:



Businesses asked to help cut provincial red tape

The province’s new Red Tape Challenge has been online for just over three weeks now.  The first of six sectors the government will be accepting input for is automotive parts manufacturing.  This program is a direct result of lobbying by the Ontario Chamber Network.  In 2015, the first recommendation in the Emerging Stronger document was to create a Red Tape Challenge similar to the United Kingdom. That program resulted in the UK government amending or scrapping 3,000 regulations, which will save
business over a £850 million every single year (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

The journey through the process of providing feedback starts with an overview of the sector from the province, along with an outline of the desired outcome.

The automotive industry has long been a cornerstone of Ontario’s economy. It includes 12 assembly plants, over 700 parts suppliers and over 500 tool, die and mould makers. The sector also employs over 103,000 people. By reducing regulatory burden through the Red Tape Challenge, we will cultivate a more innovative and dynamic business environment. This will help attract global automakers to produce the next generation of transportation here in Ontario (

The website also lists six areas of regulation: health and safety, employment and labour, corporate and
commercial law, environmental, land use and planning, and taxation and financial reporting. So far, almost 50 comments have come in on the 97 regulations being examined in the automotive parts manufacturing sector. 

The Government of Ontario also outlines its commitment to the process and why they have launched this program: Ontario is committed to developing modern, outcome-focused and evidence-based regulations, helping to foster an innovative and supportive business environment while protecting environmental and health standards and enhancing worker safety.  This includes identifying and fixing unclear, outdated, redundant, or unnecessarily costly regulatory requirements.  The Red Tape Challenge encourages a free and open conversation surrounding the regulations that apply to businesses in the province.  

Red tape, over regulation, whatever you would like to call it is one of the most common sources of frustration the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce hears from its 900 members.  “Removing unnecessary regulation can make a world of difference for a business,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce. “We also know it’s important for the government to understand that it may not be the regulation that is solely responsible for creating the red tape, but how a regulation is enforced.”   

Harrison brought the comment forward recently during an Ontario Chamber Network Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park.  Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid acknowledged the validity of the statement with an example from his own riding where a trucking company was facing a fine because of a different interpretation of a regulation by an inspector. 

At the federal level, the Red Tape Reduction Act received Royal Assent in April 2015 enshrining the one-for-one rule in law.  The rule requires federal government regulators to offset the cost increases of administrative burden on business, and for every new regulation added that imposes an administrative burden, one must be removed.  The one-for-one rule started in 2012 and up to 2015 had resulted in a net annual administrative burden reduction of over $22 million, a saving of 290,000 hours in time spent with regulatory red tape and a net reduction of 19 regulations taken off the books (  

For the Ontario Red Tape Challenge, the comment period for the automotive parts manufacturing sector runs until May 31st, 2016.  A preliminary report will be issued on June 8, 2016 with a final report released on November 30, 2016.  

Over the next two years, the province will be looking for feedback on recommendations in five other areas: food processing, financial services, mining, chemical manufacturing, and forestry.  

More information can be found at


Electricity prices set to go up for small business on May 1

The price of electricity is one of the most consistent concerns we hear from our Chamber members.  Many fit into the time-of-use system.  The Board of Directors has submitted a policy resolution to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM for consideration.  If approved, the resolution will ask the provincial government to complete an apples-to-apples comparison between Ontario and neighbouring jurisdictions as well as a more defined breakdown of the price of electricity.   You can read the submission here.

If you would like to share your electricity price story and its impact on your business or if you have an idea for a solution email:

Media Release today on increased electricity prices starting May 1: 

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced new time-of-use (TOU) electricity prices for households and small businesses starting May 1. The price is increasing by approximately $3.13 per month on the "Electricity" line, and about 2.5% on the total bill, for a household that consumes 750 kWh per month. 

Ontarians consumed less electricity than expected over the recent milder winter. As a result of lower usage, Regulated Price Plan (RPP) prices did not recover the full cost of serving RPP customers. One of the main reasons prices are increasing in May is to recover this shortfall.

New summer TOU hours will also take effect May 1. This chart outlines TOU prices and the times they are effective as of May 1, 2016:  


Moving the goods takes trains, planes, and autos

There’s a catchphrase emerging in the discussion around transportation: multi-modal transportation strategy.  I have read it in a few articles, the federal budget document and then provincial Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca used it twice in a discussion during the Chamber’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park.

A broad definition of the concept figures prominently in the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006) and can be found in the work of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation at the University of Montreal, which defines the concept as a chain made up of several transportation modes that are more or less coordinated and interact in intermodal terminals to ensure door-to-door service.  While the context of this particular definition is based in the movement of freight, it could also be easily applied to the movement of people.  You could also define it as – "anywhere in Europe…"

In the year 2041, the provincial government estimates the population of the GTHA and the outer ring (which includes the Greater Peterborough Area) will be 13.5 million people.  That is just below the current population of the entire province of Ontario.  

Developing a coherent transportation strategy for Peterborough now will serve us well into the coming decades.  We need roads and public transit to move people and things, we need air and we need rail.  If we are going to consider all modes of transportation, Peterborough also has the opportunity to move people and things via water and the Trent Severn Waterway.  

Transportation corridors are different from public transit, but both are connected and rely on each other. For example, an efficient bus system relies on efficient roads. 

By Road

The business community is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the 407 to the 35/115 in 2020.  This economic link will see commerce and people flowing both ways – from the GTA in the form of tourists and companies wanting to do business or relocate, and into the GTA from here allowing our companies easier access to the vast market known as the Golden Horseshoe.  

By Air

The intentional investment by the City and County into the Peterborough Airport is paying off with innovative partnerships, companies and opportunities.  There will be new passenger service starting this summer, continued flights by Stewart Travel, 15 companies that are employers driving the local economy, and there is space for a lot more.  The Peterborough Airport is also considered a part of a network of regional airports that is tasked with defining how they could help relieve anticipated pressures at Pearson Airport.  

By Water

The Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) was originally built as an economic thoroughfare.  Today its primary role is to ferry tourist traffic, but in that role it is a significant economic driver for the area.  Are there any other ways to use the TSW for modern day movement of goods?

By Rail

The return to rail movement is gaining steam throughout the province. There are projects being pushed in southwestern Ontario and along the GO Lakeshore East line to Bowmanville.  It’s no secret that Peterborough has had a project of its own on the go for over five years and that improved freight and the return of passenger service would go a long way to further opening up the area to new economic opportunities.  How we get there is not the critical point, just that we get to the point where we can offer a freight option that improves time to the GTA and eventually a passenger option as well.  There are quite a few infrastructure dollars on the table right now.  If there is a willingness for either the provincial or federal governments or both to repair the tracks for freight use, perhaps the case for passenger rail would become more attractive to Metrolinx/GO or VIA to take on.

For its part, the City of Peterborough’s transportation master plan was last updated in 2012 and will be due for review in the next few years.  Their thinking about the future is along the same track as the province. “While the next review will also look at all modes of travel in the City, the approach to delivering transit services may be quite different as we get closer to the next review,” says Kevin Jones, Manager of Transportation, City of Peterborough. “Our planning for transit may start to focus on serving activity areas, also known as hubs.  These hubs could serve as areas to support land use intensification and provide transfer points where local neighbourhood transit services connect to a core route system, featuring enhanced service levels.   Providing hubs in locations that allow for connections to regional GO bus services or a future rail corridor to serve the City would be ideal.  Can we find locations to build these hubs so that they accommodate the needs of the community in the present, but can also be transformed as needed in the future?”  

“The province is also reviewing its transportation strategy,” says Jones.  In a meeting with the Minister of Transportation (MTO) recently, I heard the same comment that the ministry is working on a plan that is looking 50 years into the future.  Minister Del Duca also recognized that there is more work to do to incorporate the needs of mid-size cities such as Peterborough into plans for improved linkages for future employment and economic potential.

There is a demand from within our community to be operating on all cylinders in order to take advantage of the opportunity of an expected increase in population growth.  The backbone of that economic utopia of jobs, business growth, and sustainability, is a coherent transportation network that allows for the effective movement of goods and people. Supporting and building a multi-modal transportation network will take multi-modal collaboration from government.

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