Brampton Board of Trade
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The 2024 OCC AGM: Lessons Learned and Reflections on Our Time in Timmins

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) convened its annual general meeting from April 25th to April 27th in Timmins, Ontario, drawing chambers from across the province. As newcomers representing the Brampton Board of Trade, Jaipaul and I eagerly absorbed insights and lessons. Interacting with chambers from diverse communities revealed shared challenges and priorities, primarily centered around maximizing member value and delivering the best advocacy possible for our communities.  

Daniel Tisch, the new CEO of the OCC, led a productive session on evaluating the OCC’s goals which underscored the pivotal role of boards of trade and chambers of commerce. Business can have many advocates and governments can have many advisors, but boards of trade and chambers can ensure that businesses have a unified voice for advocating collective interests. We also act as a bridge between businesses and the broader community.  

I learned about the tremendous potential of northern Ontario. The incredible potential of the EV manufacturing sector in Ontario and the increased reliance on critical minerals will be a massive boon to Timmins, the Ring of Fire, and the Canadian Shield as a whole. The vision could include an end-to-end supply chain in Ontario for EVs and batteries. With the news of Honda’s investment in EV production in their Alliston facility, the potential of mining became a central theme in our discussions.  We heard from the Minister of Mines, George Pirie, who is also the MPP for Timmins, as well as the Mayor of Timmins, Michelle Boileau, who both spoke in depth about the business opportunities in the north. With a growing population, announcement of the Northlander connecting the south and the north, and increased demand for amenities and infrastructure, the north is the next place to invest.  

A standout moment was witnessing the commendable efforts of Timmins and other northern and rural chambers in Indigenous reconciliation. My favourite moment in particular was participating in sewing quilts for residential school survivors. Vanessa Genier of Quilts For Survivors graciously guided us through the quilting process. She offered profound reflections on her personal journey and her organization’s impactful mission. She shared her reflections on the harrowing legacy of the residential school system and how, despite the intergenerational trauma faced by her community, she excelled and thrived as the community leader she is today. Her dedication has resulted in thousands of handmade quilts being distributed to survivors and their families across Canada. 

Discussions led by Matthew Foss from the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business and Zeus Eden from the OCC prompted meaningful reflections on enhancing partnerships with Indigenous communities and advancing reconciliation efforts within chamber work. These exercises fostered thoughtful dialogue and a renewed commitment to inclusivity and collaboration. 

The concluding session of the AGM featured the Policy Resolutions debate, a pivotal moment where OCC’s advocacy direction is shaped. Members actively participate in this process by submitting policies for consideration, with final decisions made through voting at the AGM to determine inclusion in the year’s policy compendium. 

Jaipaul voiced support for a resolution championed by Sault St. Marie, advocating for international students and the expansion of residential facilities. While Brampton faces acute challenges from the recent IRCC announcement which drastically reduces study permit approvals, northern communities are equally if not more impacted. The colleges serve as significant anchor institutions for these regions, amplifying the repercussions of such decisions on their local economies. 

The OCC AGM and the upcoming AGM for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) are valuable places to advocate for the needs of the Brampton business community. If you are interested in proposing a policy for consideration, please reach out to me at The proposed resolution will be presented at the next PGR committee meeting and discussed as we look to develop our policy resolutions for the fall.  

In summary, Jaipaul and I are committed to ensuring that the Brampton Board of Trade remains responsive to the needs of our membership and the broader business community. The insights gathered from our colleagues in other chambers and the approved policy compendium will be the subject of our next PGR meeting. If you are interested in joining that meeting and collaborating with BBOT staff to propose resolutions at the next AGM, please contact us. We are looking ahead to October for the CCC AGM so that we can continue to build on our insights.  

Upcoming Events

The Brampton Board of Trade has developed a dynamic series of events tailored to the needs of Brampton businesses. Whether it’s to recognize the individual and collective success of Brampton businesses or to share best practices in a webinar or workshop, our events are designed to connect Brampton’s business community and foster your growth and development.

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