Get Your Discount Tickets to DYPB in Toronto

DYPBCFIB Promotion image

Do you want to build your personal brand so that you can make a bigger and powerful impact in your business and life?

The fourth annual, Discover Your Personal Brand 2016, #DYPB16, is a game-changing day and a half where you can learn from thought leaders and industry experts as they share their expertise on personal branding and the tools they used to master it. You’ll walk away with practical strategies that you can apply immediately to differentiate yourself from the crowd in a meaningful way.

Featuring over 30 experts, 6 keynotes, 6 panels and 3 workshops, #DYPB16 will offer panels will including popular topics such as: Social Media, acquiring funding, Media and PR, the incorporation of Social Responsibility into Business and understanding engagement for the effect of technology towards businesses in the future and entrepreneurship in the start-up world.

In addition, CFIB business counsellors will once again have a booth at the conference. Stop by to ask us your small business questions!

Attend the Discover Your Personal Brand conference, taking place Aug 12-13 at the Telus House – 25 York Street, Downtown Toronto.

Register and take full advantage of our special CFIB 25% discount by using code DYPB16CFIB!

We hope to see you there!

Got clever ideas for Canada’s innovation agenda? Share them on July 29!

ISED_Innovation-Webbutton-Can-360x203-ENThe federal government has made innovation a key policy plank of their current mandate. As part of its push to make Canada a global centre for innovation, the government wants to hear your ideas on how to best accomplish this.

You can participate in a live Twitter Q & A on Friday, July 29, from 3:00pm to 3:45pm (EST). Follow the conversation using the hashtag #AskBains, which refers to federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains (@NavdeepSBains).

You can also use #CdnInnovation to circulate your ideas on Twitter. There’s even downloadable promotional images the government created, encouraging you to use them on your company website (the code is also available).

An interactive website is available to take your suggestions and proposals to breathe life into the concept of innovation. The government is focused on six specific areas:

  • Entrepreneurial and creative society
  • Global science and excellence
  • World-leading clusters and partnerships
  • Grow companies and accelerate clean growth
  • Compete in a digital world
  • Ease of doing business

The ultimate goal is to capture fresh ideas to develop an action plan that makes innovation a national priority. The government plans to review all submissions at the end of the summer and put them to use in its action plan.

Chances are pretty good that you are already well-versed in the concept of innovation, since you’re in the start-up space. It’s a natural fit and a direct line from innovation to start-up and beyond.

If anyone knows innovation, it’s the nation’s small- and medium-sized businesses, so be sure to demonstrate your creative chops and make a lasting contribution to this important national goal.

Stay tuned to MyStartUp and CFIB this fall for a full report on innovation and small businesses. It promises insight and direction on the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada.

Your CFIB discount to Summer’s Largest Networking Event


CFIB will once again have a booth at the Summer’s Largest Networking Bash in Toronto.

If you are in the area, take advantage of your CFIB discount admission of just $40 (regular advance price is $56.50) to connect with 1,000+ business owners, attend some great workshops and speeches, and visit our knowledgeable business counsellors who are ready to answer your small biz questions.

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Additional details:

  • Afternoon business workshops on earning more money! Featuring:
    • The world’s #1 money coach Morgana Rae
    • Entrepreneur trainer Colin Sprake
    • The Financial Toolbox guru Jessie Christo
    • Tax Strategist Celia Meikle
    • Microsoft and Bing

Stay for the Evening Networking Reception & Trade Show (food served/ cash bar), which is included with your ticket. REGISTER HERE:

Remember to use Promo Code: CFIB

 We hope to see you there!


Wade Watts’ pioneering work to make Canada accessible for all

If you own a business and you want to best serve your customers, it seems almost intuitive that you’d be putting down barriers that prevent them from receiving your service.

No business owner wants to exclude potential customers from the next big sale.

Yet some businesses are still learning about the opportunities that a growing and vital share of the market can offer.

We’re talking about accessibility.

The human and moral case for improving accessibility is a no-brainer. It’s just the right thing to do to offer your service equitably to all members of your community.

The business case may be just as compelling: if you’re turning away customers because they can’t access what you’re offering, you would be most likely inclined to re-consider your set-up.

Wade Watts is a living testament to the vital importance of accessibility in the world of business.

After living with a rare, undiagnosed form of Multiple Sclerosis for most of his career in civil construction, Wade went through a series of increasingly devastating health situations that nearly took his life (twice), leaving him with serious mobility restrictions (read the incredible account of Watts’ personal history).

Watts, who recently joined CFIB, now uses a wheelchair to get around, and it was this dramatic turn in his life that really opened his eyes as to how many barriers exist in Canadian society.

Rather than let his challenging health situation hold him back, Watts was inspired to take direct and meaningful action. In some ways, Watts turned what may have been seen as a tragedy into a purposeful calling.

Leaning on his business acumen and construction background, Watts started a company called Wheelchair Friendly Solutions, based in Trenton, Ontario (“The leader in providing solutions for an accessible world”).

It’s not just hardware such as oversized buttons, signage, or ramps, either: Watts’ company does accessibility compliance audits, education such as staff training, plus consulting services. One-stop shopping for all your accessibility needs.

Wade is concerned that progress on increasing accessibility for people with disabilities in Canada has stalled.

When asked about the overall state of affairs on this front, Watts doesn’t mince words.

“It doesn’t look very good,” says Watts. “We have a lot of work to do. I’m not sure exactly why it’s happening.”

He theorizes that the sluggish pace of implementation of accessibility measures in businesses has to do with lack of information, myths about costs, or perceived hardship to put them in place.

“From my investigations, a lot of it is untruths about the costs and difficulty of making things accessible,” says Watts. “A lot of my customers are surprised when they see just how inexpensive accessibility can be for their business, and they wish they had done it years earlier.”

Regardless of what the rest of the world is doing to encourage and facilitate accessibility in their businesses, Wade takes it upon himself to practice what he preaches by employing five people with disabilities. He recently hired a worker with autism.

“When I gave him his first paycheque, he had tears in his eyes. He did an amazing job,” says Watts about his dedicated new employee. “I’m humbled by it, I’ve gotta be honest about it. It actually chokes me up a little bit to think about what an amazing worker he is.”

Watts makes a strong case for the wisdom of taking accessibility seriously. An ageing population means that, once you start including friends and family, approximately 53% of the marketplace will consist of a person with a disability, or someone close to them.

According to Watts, there are nearly 1.85 million mobility-disabled people in Ontario alone; 3.8 million in Canada, and almost 2 billion people world-wide (this is almost certainly an underestimate, too). Whatever the exact current number, Watts says his research tells him that these numbers will double by 2025.

Many companies are profiting immensely from this trend, yet Wade points out that people can’t find a decent wheelchair for less than $4,000.

Watts, with his signature non-nonsense tenacity, simply took matters into his own hands and ordered the parts for a wheelchair himself, building his own manual wheelchair for about $700.

He says some manufacturers speak about liability issues to justify their exorbitant pricing, but Watts notes this doesn’t seem to be the case for many other products that are mobile (“If you buy a mountain bike and ride off a cliff, is the manufacturer liable?”)

If business owners needed any more motivation to bring their operations up to speed to serve the full complement of their customers, Watts says they may wish to think of the business downside of not making their business accessibility-compliant.

It’s a bottom-line-with-a twist-proposition that Watts brings to his own approach to selling his goods and services.

“We’ll make it so cheap that it’s cheaper than the first fine (for non-compliance),” says Watts. “I just want to see people understand that they don’t need to be afraid of this.”

wfsi-logo-200x58.pngLearn more about Watts and his inspiring personal story, and how he can help your business with low-cost accessibility projects, at


Hey Small Biz! Worried about a Canada Post disruption? CFIB has your solution

If your business relies on Canada Post, then you know that your service could be interrupted with 72 hours’ notice, by a strike or lockout.

In order to help your business get through the potential mail stoppage with a minimum of disruption, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is now offering ZoomShipR, our exclusive member-only courier and freight shipping solution, to all independent businesses in Canada until October 1st.

With discounts of up to 30% and online shipment processing in under a minute, ZoomShipR is so convenient and affordable, you may never go back to Canada Post again, strike or no strike.

Sign up for discounted shipping and courier today, with our compliments!


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business represents 109,000 small- to medium-sized businesses across every economic sector in Canada. We advocate on behalf of small businesses in Canada, and we offer exclusive member savings and discounts, small business support and free online education.


Deadline approaching for funding to boost accessibility at your business

The federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) offers up to $50,000 in funding to help improve accessibility in your business.

The EAF is accepting applications until July 26, 2016, for funding from businesses and organizations through its Workplace Accessibility Stream and Community Accessibility Stream.

The government gives successful applicants 65% of eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $50,000 per funded project.

If your business has fewer than 100 employees or you’re a community-based employer, you may be eligible for funding in the Workplace Accessibility Stream to help remove barriers to accessibility in your workplace.

Possibly the most important eligibility criteria for the funding? Projects must aim to create and/or maintain employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Your workplace accessibility initiatives might involve:

  • Renovation
  • Construction
  • Retrofit activities
  • Accessible workplace technologies

Depending on the type of business you operate, your specific accessibility project will have its own particular requirements. Here are some specific examples of projects across different types of functions and environments:

  • Automated door openers
  • Constructing a universally designed office
  • Voice-activated software
  • Retrofitting washrooms

Apply for funding or learn more about these funding streams at the EAF website.

Creating accommodation plans for employees

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, employers have a duty to provide accommodations for an employee with needs based on protected grounds of discrimination, such as religion, disability, and age. Employers must work with the employee to provide necessary accommodation to the point of undue hardship.

When creating an individualized accommodation plan, it is generally good practice for employers to:

  • Never assume what a person needs or does not need

People’s needs can be radically different depending on the type of disability or illness, severity, any medications being taken, and the employee him/herself. An accommodation plan that works for one person may not work for another.

  • Listen to your employees—they know what they need

Accommodation plans should be individualized, but the process need not be complicated. The person with the needs is in the best position to tell you what accommodations can help them. Common examples of accommodations can include things like:

  • Installing a ramp for someone who requires a mobility device
  • Installing screen-magnifying software for an employee with vision needs
  • Allowing clothing items required by religion to be worn, such as headscarves
  • Flexibility in work hours for an employee with mental health needs

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Employers should be prepared to work collaboratively and respectfully with the employee to find solutions that meet the employee’s needs.

  • Be approachable, empathetic, and understanding

Employees who require accommodation can be hesitant to ask for it because of the fear of stigma. It is important to reassure employees that you are there to work with them, not against them. When you are open and understanding, your employees may be willing to be more open and collaborative with you, creating a mutually beneficial solution. Providing needs-based accommodation can ensure that employees are empowered to do their best work, helping your company function smoothly and grow.

  • Follow up and review the plan regularly

An employee’s accommodation plan should be reviewed when the employee moves to a different location in the workplace, takes on different responsibilities, and when the employee requests further accommodation. Employers should consider “checking in” with the employee every few months to ensure that the accommodation plan is working for the employee. The review schedule should be included in the accommodation plan.

  • Don’t forget to include individualized emergency response information, as well as how the employee’s privacy will be protected throughout the process

Some employees may require an individualized plan in the event of an emergency; for example, someone with hearing loss may not be able to hear a fire alarm and thus, an individualized formal emergency assistance plan should be prepared with the employee.

Due to the personal nature of the employee’s needs, the accommodation plan should consider policies relating to privacy. Obviously, employers should never discuss the employee’s needs with other employees without permission. Employers should work with the employee to ensure appropriate steps are taken to ensure privacy of personal information.

Don’t know where to start? Many resources are available on your province’s human rights regulatory body. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission provides a free accommodation template for employers to fill out, part of which includes an individual accommodation plan that should be filled out with the employee.

CFIB members can always call a Business Counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 at no charge for questions about your responsibilities as an employer.

“Re-imagining the human experience in a way that includes accessibility”

Have you ever had a moment when you meet someone and you know you’ve met a rising star?

Well, I found a rising entrepreneurial star!

Meet Lequanne Collins-Bacchus, a new member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

IMG_4349Lequanne Collins-Bacchus is a 24-year-old intellectual peripatetic, who founded PAERE as a hub to explore the intersection of accessibility, disability, the arts, and technological innovation.

She enjoys learning about and re-imagining the human experience and what’s possible for people of all abilities. Being hard-of-hearing herself, she draws inspiration from her own experience and challenges others to do the same. She’s studied at OCAD University (artfully), Carleton University (philosophically), and Seneca College (logistically).

I had a chance to ask Lequanne a few questions about accessibility.

Why did you want to create an accessible business?

For PAERE, the vision is re-imagining the human experience in a way that includes accessibility as part of that experience, not as something that detracts from it, but adds to one’s perspective and enhances their understanding of the world around them. I’m interested in innovating in this space artistically, technologically and through product development. Too often, accessibility and disability are referred to either depressingly or inspirationally—these are valid experiences, but the conversation should be moving beyond these extremes to a place that is more humanizing, visionary, and innovative. This is what motivates me: accessibility as a vehicle for new re-imaginings of how we can navigate the world around us.  

Was an accessible business always the intention?

Originally, I started it with the intention of the organization being a black-owned technology company because I knew there was a need for representation, empowerment, community and economic development in this area. But as a I spoke about why I was doing this, I found myself talking about my hearing loss as a chief motivating factor without truly grasping why my disability mattered on a conscious level, but I felt it deeply. Only when I consulted with my advisor did I start to make the connections. I have had many traumatic experiences growing up with hearing loss, not only because how I was treated due to my disability, but also because I was taught to hide it.

I can lip read, which allowed me to learn over time how to navigate hearing spaces fairly well without revealing my hearing loss. Only when I started to meet people who would figure it out without me telling them and take advantage of me did I realize how important it was to talk about it. Once I started doing this, I realized how much broader my understanding of the world was and that it was a gift, not something to hide, and I saw the potential for it as source of empowerment.

There have been many entrepreneurs that are dyslexic; the top CEOs in the world often have learning disabilities; and some of the top geniuses are known to have mental health issues. There are no able-bodied people, just people who appear to be fine until we learn more about them. 

Disability is a hidden superpower: it is time to let people tap into that by changing what accessibility looks like, from something ‘over there’ to something inclusive and within us. This is what PAERE aims to do. 

Any advice for those looking to hire or create an accessible environment?

Listen to the person you are trying to help—they know their experience and will gladly tell you how to accommodate them if you simply ask. Don’t be afraid to say you have no idea how to help. They will appreciate the honesty and will respect that you are willing to learn something outside your own experience. 

What are some of the challenges you see other businesses having with accessibility?

A large challenge I see is bridging the gap in understanding between people with different levels of ability. It might be hard for someone who can walk to know how to relate to someone who can’t, outside of a space of pity. But there is so much room for laughter and creativity in that. PAERE hopes to show that this is possible on a deep level by leveraging technology as that inclusive medium. 

Tell us a bit of what you do to help the community of disabled individuals?

So as a start-up, I’m still figuring out how to best enable people of different abilities. It is an ongoing process of discovery, as everyone is different and experiences the world differently. My first project was for myself—a digital gallery of an art exhibition at OCAD University that had descriptions available of the art and the event details all in one place. I was hoping to include the speeches so there was a transcription available, but it was time-sensitive. Having a transcribed event helped me understand any words I missed or misheard. There was an ASL interpreter on-site, but I am still learning it, so this was a bridge for someone like me who is hard-of-hearing. 

My next project is an augmented reality gallery for the visually impaired. I’m in conversations with organizations about it, but these are the kinds of approaches to accessibility PAERE is taking, along with starting to consult with businesses to become more accessible. 

Have you had an experience in the past that helps you understand the importance of having an accessible workplace or business?

Looking back on my life, there are a lot of experiences that point to why I started seeing my disability as empowering. (It even made) me a better writer, because I’ll mis-hear words and my imagination would just go wild, or I would pick up metaphors in sentences even though it wasn’t what the speaker intended.

There was one summer where I tried dragon boating on a whim because I love being on the water. I didn’t realize I would be doing so with some people who are visually impaired. But when we were in the boat, it didn’t matter. I didn’t notice because we all just paddled in unison together, going to the same place, in tune with each other’s rhythm. There was one day when we stopped in the middle of a practice in Ashbridge’s Bay and the person next to me said, “Do you hear that? It’s a cardinal.” And I said, “Nah, I can’t. What does it sound like?” And she made the noise and pointed in the direction it was coming from. I looked over and saw it. “What does it look like?” she asked, blind to it.

I then described it to her.

We become each other’s eyes and ears. 

I haven’t dragon boated in a while, and I only realized how deep this was until much later, because I was exhausted from rowing in that moment.

Think about it: if you tap into that kind of connection as a business, you have tapped into something deeper with your customers.

Their humanity.


So dear entrepreneur, whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re just starting, keep Lequanne’s words in mind about accessibility: the vision is re-imagining the human experience in a way that includes accessibility.

The key takeaway messages?

  • Trends should be moving towards a place that is more humanizing, visionary, and innovative.
  • Disability is a hidden superpower: let people tap into that by changing what accessibility looks like, from something ‘over there’ to something inclusive and within us.
  • Tap into the deep connections and experience let us all experience humanity.


To learn more about Lequanne and PAERE, reach her at:
You can also catch up with Lequanne on Instagram and Twitter

Author: Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor
Follow Cesar on Twitter @josuegomezg

CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar.

Hey Small Biz! Enabling Accessibility Fund Deadline July 26th.

Is your business able to hire employees or make your community accessible?

The Enabling Accessibility Fund is available for small business with ideas on how to improve their workplaces or communities. Examples: installing screen reader devices, hearing induction loop systems, automated door openers, constructing a universally designed office, or retrofitting a washroom with an accessible toilet, grab bars and taps, etc.

Application deadline: July 26, 2016 (Click here for program details.)

Looking for funding as an entrepreneur?

Perhaps you have experienced a disability yourself and you’re looking to assist others by starting a creative business. Check out the following resources from Service Canada:

Accessible and inclusive communities are great communities! We hope you can take advantage of these resources.


Author: Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor

Follow Cesar on Twitter @josuegomezg

CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar.

Accessibility: it’s good for business

Our lives are exposed daily to potential accidents or risky situations and many of us take the time at the end of the day to reflect and be grateful—grateful that you, your family, and your friends are in good health and spirits.

However, in some cases a misfortune can occur and an accident can lead to a disability. There is a common misconception that a disability is only something that can be seen, such as a person in a wheelchair, walking with a seeing dog, or using an assistive device. However some disabilities may not be seen, such as a heart condition, a mental health issue, or a condition like Alzheimer’s. Some disabilities are temporary, while others can be progressive or have started at birth.

So, for the next 10 seconds, imagine that you or a loved one has a disability: can you think of a local restaurant, convenience store or other service that you can access without any barriers? OK, we’ll give you 60 seconds to be fair!

As you start your entrepreneurial journey, how can you be creative to assist your customers and let all members of society experience your business? Can you customize your product or service to attract a new set of customers whom you hadn’t considered?

The following information may be helpful for your business when you are working on accessibility initiatives.

What is practical and ethical?

Think for a second: how would I like to be treated in this moment, or in this situation? As always, it’s important to be polite, caring and respectful.

It’s all about communication and building basic trust:

  • Get to know your customer: small talk can help identify how you can help
    • Ask how the individual is doing (identify if you should speak slower, louder or more softly)
    • Ask for the individual’s name (personalize the experience)
    • Ask how they heard about your business
  • Ask the individual if they need any assistance: “Can I guide you through the store?”
    • Do they need special accommodations or assistance to make a purchase at your business (dedicated staff, space, etc.)? You may have product on a top shelf that’s difficult to see for someone in a wheelchair, or perhaps the person may need assistance if they have difficulty seeing clearly.
    • Assist the person with their purchases while they are in your business
  • Ask for feedback:
    • Did the customer have a good experience? If not, why?
    • Remember: If the customer had a good experience, they may very well invite their friends and families to enjoy your service/products next time
  • Respect individual desires:
    • If the individual is not looking for assistance, respectfully let them know you will be around
    • Be comfortable: the individual will tell you if they need assistance.

Ask yourself what can you do today?

☐ Can you have signs that point to elevator, washrooms, etc.?
☐ Is it possible to have your eBook, book or menu in an accessible format?
☐ Can your online videos have caption?
☐ Can you have a dedicated staff member for each shift who is ready and willing to assist?
☐ If you already have an accessible business, can you spread the good word? (e.g., promote yourself on social media)

Can you think of something else? Tweet to share with us @MyStartUpCA

What is your province/territory’s expectation under human rights legislation or other regulations?

British Columbia
Ontario Human Rights and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick

Last thoughts

Consider opening new possibilities by receiving new customers: create an accessible business! We all win when we have accessibility; you; the business owner; and the general public.

Let’s help each other create a better business environment for everyone!

Read the Canada Business Network’s resources and information for your business. As always, as a CFIB member, you can contact a Business Counsellor: 1 888 234-2232.

We encourage you to sign up for a FREE SIX-MONTH MEMBERSHIP to have access to our Business Counsellors.


Author: Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor

Follow Cesar on Twitter @josuegomezg

CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar.