Policy & Advocacy Council

The Hamilton Chamber’s advocacy efforts are reflective of the priorities of our membership and wider business community, further developed through the professional expertise of volunteers on our Policy and Advocacy Council and its task forces – and then implemented by Chamber staff.

Policy & Advocacy Council Year in Review (2020)

Throughout 2020, much of the Hamilton Chamber’s policy and advocacy efforts were dedicated to addressing the varied pandemic related challenges facing businesses in our community. Of particular note, businesses were forced to rely on government funding support programs due to operating restrictions implemented under lockdown orders. The Chamber served its membership by helping businesses navigate program eligibility and oftentimes complex application processes, in addition to consulting with federal, provincial and municipal partners on suggested improvements to existing business support programs.

The Chamber received national endorsement from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce calling on the federal government to launch a nationwide basic income pilot project. During the previously cancelled provincial basic income pilot project, a McMaster University study found that 80% of local recipients reported feeling more motivated to find better jobs during the pilot. Combined with the learnings from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a pilot could assess everything from costs, to benefits, to challenges of a nationwide basic income social assistance program.

Following the Provincial government’s December 2019 cancellation of the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, the Chamber immediately got to work on pursuing a recommitment to higher order, intra-city for the City of Hamilton. Within months, the Ministry of Transportation appointed a Hamilton Transportation Task Force (HTTF) to study the impact of various transportation investments in the City in consultation with local community partners. As confirmed by the previous ten years of locally conducted study, and consistent with the Chamber’s advocacy, the HTTF found that higher order, intra-city transit such as the originally envisioned LRT project remains the best investment for our community.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce participated in Mayor Eisenberger’s Task Force on Economic Recovery, which provided multi-sectoral leadership and direction to guide Hamilton’s economic recovery in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force developed an action driven plan to position the community for sustainable and equitable economic growth. Moreover, a specific deliverable of the task force includes the launch of a dedicated one-stop resource service for COVID-19 related information for local businesses that will be operated by the Hamilton Business Centre and the Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Flamborough Chambers of Commerce. That resource is the COVID Concierge, which can be accessed at hamiltoncovidconcierge.ca.

Led by the Hamilton Chamber, with financial assistance from The Atmospheric Fund and Mitacs, our initiative identified select opportunities to harness local industrial waste heat and apply it to new uses, including district heating. The final report cites the economic, environmental, and social benefits that can be derived from unlocking additional value from thermal energy available within Hamilton’s Bayfront Industrial Area and elsewhere. Equally important, it contributes to a growing set of actions among manufacturers to transition to a low carbon future. Special thank you to member organizations of the Project Working Group: Enbridge Gas, HCE Energy Inc., Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority, and McMaster University’s W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology, and to the six participating manufacturers.

Policy & Advocacy Council Members

  • Richard Koroscil (Chair) – Korlon Strategic Services Inc.
  • Anne Tennier – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
  • Aaron Schewee – Capital Hill Group
  • Bianca Caramento – Bay Area Climate Change Council
  • Jaimie Lickers – CIBC
  • Ed Fothergill – Fothergill Planning & Development Inc.
  • Henry Wegiel – Arcelor Mittal Dofasco
  • Aaron Levo – Hamilton Health Sciences
  • Larissa Fenn – Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority
  • Regina Foisey – Mohawk College
  • Michael Frisina – Alectra Utilities
  • Michael Ras – Counsel Public Affairs Inc.
  • Alyson Rowe – St. Joseph’s Health System
  • Nick Switalski – McMaster University
  • Dan Salvatore – CN

A Message From Our Chair

“The Policy and Advocacy Council’s accomplished policy, public affairs and communications professionals continued their important work in 2020 in responding to COVID-19. Looking forward to 2021, PAC’s work will focus to ensure that Hamilton’s business community is well represented, as the government stages our collective economic recovery.“
– Richard Koroscil, Policy and Advocacy Council Chair