An Open Letter to Canadian Business Owners

Dear Entrepreneur,

Whether you are just starting your journey, or have been a business owner for some time, I’d like to say: congratulations! You have decided to embark on a voyage like no other; one that creates opportunities to employ, to innovate, to grow your community, and so much more.

You may have started your business because you have decided to take your career in adifferent direction, or perhaps you were laid off. You could be taking over the family business, or maybe you’ve mastered your art and have decided to start your own venture – regardless of how you got here, it’s a big step, a bold step, and a brave step. Once again, congratulations.

You may not be familiar with my name or what my job responsibilities are, and that’s okay. My name is Cesar J. Gomez and I am a Business Counsellor at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). What’s that, you ask? Let me tell you.

1) We are passionate for things you need to know

We are a team dedicated to getting you the information you need, when you need it. How does that help you? Consider us a resource for questions you may not know the answer to, such as:

  • How do I set up my business structure?
  • How do I hire my first employee?
  • What type of training do I/my employees need?
  • Which government rules and regulations impact my business?
  • How do I prepare for a tax or workers compensation audit?

This is just the beginning. Say for example you have a revolutionary idea – you’ll need to understand and navigate through the potential red tape you may encounter and that’s where your local business counsellor can help! We are not a call center and we are not scripted, we are ateam whose services are tailored to your needs. We believe in providing solutions so that you can get back to running your business.

2) We understand what connects all our members

Our organization represents businesses across all sectors and industries. The one thing that connects all of our members is the provincial and federal obligations they need to comply with, including:

  • Provincial regulations, such as Employment Standards and Occupational Health and Safety.
  • Licence or permit requirements to conduct business in your municipality/province
    • For example: did you know that you may even need a permit to have music playing in your business? Or that you may need a license to sell pop and chips at your retail shop? Your municipality may even have rules regarding how you advertise your business on sidewalk, even when your business is on the second floor.

Do not fear the unknown. As a member of the CFIB, your business counsellor can listen, asses your situation and conduct research on your behalf!

3) We understand you need support, at the time you contact us 

We understand how frustrating it can be when you are looking for the right contact person at a local government agency or searching through the web for answers, losing valuable time. Our business counsellors have dedicated phone numbers, extensions and email address that can be shared with you. Some members prefer emails while others  like to speak to us over phone. We serve you, the way you wish to be served, in a timely manner. It’s your opportunity to speak to someone on a variety of topics.

In closing my entrepreneur friend, we are a team that listens to your concerns. We understand what you are going through, and we are on your side. In my years of being at CFIB I have had the privilege of talking to members about their victories and what inspires them on daily basis. I have also heard from members about the important concerns they have and issues they face. That is the journey of the entrepreneur. You don’t have to do it alone, you can count on us – a team that wants you to be successful.

We are your biggest fans, cheerleaders and supporters! No other organization will boast more of your accomplishments and you’re potential. When you saw a need, you started a business and that is leadership. We are here to help you succeed.

The road ahead is guaranteed to be bumpy, but that’s okay. When you start your day from your home office, open up the shop since you’re the only employee, or you are on road making new connections – trust that you have resources in us. A whole team, right behind you, you have resources!


Cesar Gomez- Garcia

CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB and the My Startup program by CFIB, is helping its members, who are small business owners, with questions about compliance. These questions cover such areas as Employment Standards, Health and Safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passions are reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar by clicking here.

A day in the life of a counsellor

For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to write a “day in the life of a counsellor” blog-post. You’d think that would be easy, right? Well, not so much. You see, there’s no typical day when it comes to helping people. Oh, I know there will be calls and e-mails, but the topics, the complexity –that all varies.

Today alone I’ve talked the ins and outs of payment processing, provided guidance on terminating an employee, looked into the issue of commercial vehicle checks in Quebec, e-mailed template human resource documents, updated a web-post, and talked to a non-member about the benefits of membership – and it’s not even lunchtime!

As counsellors we get to talk to business owners at all stages of their business-owning life – from start-up, to barely clinging on, from looking to grow, to looking to retire. But our interactions with members can be abstract – a question about financing here, a concern over occupational health and safety compliance there. It’s rare to get the opportunity to really follow along with a business.

Back in March, 2016, I got a call from a brand new business – so new, they hadn’t even opened their doors yet! But that wasn’t for lack of trying; unfortunately they were tied up in a serious amount of government red-tape. The province was asking for a form to be completed, but the information they were requesting wasn’t relevant to the business. With our help, the member discovered that a communication error between the town and the province had prompted this erroneous request.

In the seven months since that initial call, I’ve spoken with the member five times – I’ve helped him apply for an EI ruling on behalf of his spouse who works at the business; we’ve discussed ways to get the message out about the services they offer; batted about the pros and cons of paying his spouse salary v. dividends; reviewed payroll set-ups, including remittances to CRA and Employment Standards regulations; and, how to go about finding an accountant.

Each call gave me the chance to catch up on how the business is doing. For a counsellor, hearing about the successes helps us deal with the calls we receive from business owners who are seeing their hopes and dreams fall apart. It’s full of highs and lows, but there’s nothing so rewarding as helping a out a small business owner.

And that, right there, is a day in the life of a counsellor: helping business owners deal with the unknown by wading out there with them, offering advice and guidance when they need it, and stepping back when they’re confident to carry on. At least until the next problem shows up!

Need to reach us? That is easy. Call us anywhere in Canada 1 888 234-2232 or email us at


emma-headEmma Speagell is a Bilingual Business Counsellor working in the Atlantic Region. Since joining CFIB two years ago, Emma has helped members with a range of issues from CRA audits to Occupational Health and Safety compliance to finding the right financing program to allow a business to expand. Prior to joining CFIB, Emma worked as a bilingual retail sales auditor and payroll administrator for a family-run retail business which allowed her to witness how small business works from the inside.

The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Hiring: Sourcing Candidates

jobs%20news%20ad%20shutterstock-630x404As CFIB’s preferred partner for recruitment services, we spend more time at Fitzii helping small businesses hire than just about anyone in Canada. Our mission is to level the playing field for smaller companies who, on average, spend twice as much per hire as big businesses, while taking twice as long to fill positions.

We believe that small businesses can actually out-hire big companies if they use best practices that have been proven to increase the chances of making a great hire, while saving time and money in the process.

We’ve created an “ultimate hiring guide” for CFIB members which covers five of our best practices in each of the three major stages in hiring. Today we present our top five tips for sourcing candidates. Next week we will move on to shortlisting candidates, and we will wrap up our three-part series with expert advice on selecting candidates.

These are the insider tips you can leverage for hiring success. Enjoy!

Top-5 Tips for Sourcing Candidates:

The biggest reason small businesses spend so much more per hire than big companies do is because they more often need to use expensive recruiting agencies to fill positions. Smart advertising approaches will help you attract the right kind of candidate and repel the wrong ones – and make using 3rd party recruiters a last resort.

  1. Post Job Ads, NOT Job Descriptions

Most job postings describe what the company and job is, and have a bulleted list of responsibilities and qualifications. This is a job description, not a job advertisement. Fitzii’s postings bring in 3x the qualified candidates because we write compelling ad copy that actually sells your company, and tells the ideal candidate why they want your job. We share all our secrets of effective job ad writing on our blog, so you can craft a great ad yourself (or have us do it).

2. Searchable Job Titles 


The job title of your ad should contain the key words that your ideal candidate is typing into a job board’s search bar. Ask yourself, what are the jobs they would be looking for? Using those words in the job title will maximize the number of views your job gets, and you can always put the “official” job title in the body of the ad. You can use Indeed’s data to help determine the most searched job titles.

3. Use Your Small Business Advantage 


Small businesses generally have better and more engaged cultures than large companies. Plus, people can make a much bigger impact at a small business, and it’s exactly those kind of ambitious, responsibility-seeking people that you’re looking for. These are your advantages, so make sure to put them front and center in your job ads.

4. Attracting Referrals 


The highest quality source of candidates are referrals, so it’s smart to have a strategy to attract them. Create a referral bonus for your employees and friends, and make it easy for them to email and share your jobs on social media by writing the blurb for them. Having good information on your website about what it’s like to work at your company, and the perks, benefits, and unique elements of your culture will also pay off – the best candidates do their research before deciding whether to apply.

5. Cast a Wide Net 


Quality people are everywhere, so your job ad should be everywhere that your ideal candidates will likely be looking. The major job boards are an obvious choice. Besides providing 30-50% discounts on them, your Hiring Advisor at Fitzii can help you to choose the best ones for each position and location. Free postings at schools or industry groups can also be worthwhile, but be careful of government sites that aren’t up to date, or expensive niche or association job boards which often aren’t worth the money.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

As you can see from these tips, the key to attracting great people to your job posting isn’t about spending a lot of time or money – it’s about working smarter by using proven approaches.

If you’d like more help, it doesn’t cost anything to get some advice from a Fitzii Hiring Advisor, or use the free posting and tracking tool. We love to talk with CFIB members, and we make it really easy to book an appointment – just fill out this form and schedule a time right in our calendar.

And don’t forget to tune in next week as we discuss how to most effectively shortlist candidates.

Want More?


fitzii-jansen-225x225Edwin Jansen is the head of growth at Fitzii, CFIB’s preferred partner for recruitment services. Fitzii provides free job posting & tracking software plus access to expert hiring services and discounted job boards to help small businesses hire better, while saving lots of time, money and hassles along the way.

“Protect Your Business from Credit Card Fraud”

shutterstock_216859354CFIB Blog Post by Gord Jamieson

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are among the most critical players in Canada’s economy.  But for every new business that starts, there are risks that may not have been considered – or risks that they may not even be aware of.

Fraud is an ongoing concern for businesses that accept payments, all over the world.  Personal financial information is valuable to fraudsters, and they continue to be creative in the ways they attempt to obtain it.  My role at Visa is focused on fraud risk and includes helping Canadian business owners learn how to guard against fraud that can impact their bottom lines.

Small businesses are among the top targets for hackers and fraudsters, because they represent a large population of merchants and they may not have the same security controls in place as large chain operations.  The good news is, we can help.    Visa has developed several layers of fraud prevention and detection systems and programs, giving merchants multiple checkpoints for security to protect their businesses and make transactions more secure.

Fraud prevention: where to start?

A key element of our strategy is ensuring that small businesses know the tools that are available to them. These tools can come from a variety of sources – for example at Visa, there are tools available through your merchant acquirer such as Verified by Visa, CVV2 (the three-digit code) and address verification – all ways for a merchant to authenticate a purchase in a card-not-present purchase.  There are also broader industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, which sets parameters for how card information should be treated once it’s obtained in a purchase.

The merchant’s role in preventing fraud

Merchants play a key role in fraud prevention, particularly in the e-commerce space.   An issuer’s authentication and approval of a transaction does not necessarily mean that the transaction is legitimate. This is why we make tools available to help merchants identify their customers and help verify that the transaction is legitimate.  We also share best practices to help combat fraud. You’ve heard the expression ‘if something seems too good to be true, it probably is’?  Well, that’s often the case when it comes to attempted fraud.  If something seems too good – for example, an out of the blue huge order from a brand new customer who wants to split the purchase across several cards – well, it’s definitely worth a second look.  While some purchases will be legitimate, often times suspicious requests like rush delivery, multiple transactions on a single card, different addresses and names stemming from a single IP address are red flags that you need to pay attention to.

Where do I go for information?

I’m pleased to be participating in CFIB’s ‘Protect Your Business From Credit Card Fraud’ .  We’ll be covering the basics of small merchant security, from data security to payment terminals, from software patches to employee training – we will be covering off the best practices that can get you started on the road to preventing fraud.  I will look forward to speaking with you then!


gordGord Jamieson is a Head of Risk Services at Visa Canada and is responsible for Canadian Issuing and North America Acquiring Risk Services.  His goal is to differentiate Visa from competition, reduce risks of regulatory impact and support core growth by engaging North American clients to minimize payment system risks.

Prior to joining Visa, Gord served as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 20 years. Gord has over nine years of experience investigating organized crime involvement in forged credit card manufacturing and distribution. Gord is recognized by the Canadian courts as an expert in this field of investigation.

Compliance woes? We have a solution for that.

Being a business owner can be frustrating and stressful when it comes to sorting out regulatory compliance. I know firsthand from watching my father sit at the kitchen table long into the evenings doing paperwork. When I was younger I never really understood why he brought work home after working a ten-hour day, but now that I am older, I get it: he didn’t have a choice.

Being in compliance is essential to a business because violating regulations or legislation can result in severe penalties and fines. On top of those potential monetary costs, there is the time drain – business owners being taken away from running their business spend hours on government paperwork – sometimes, it can be too much to handle.

There is a misconception about being a business owner is easy – you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, take as much vacation as you want…. too often you don’t get credit for your hustle.  Just because you are not on site doesn’t mean you aren’t doing work for your business in some capacity.

What if you could have someone to rely on to help you ensure you were in compliance?

Out of the approximate 27,000 member calls CFIB Business Counsellors recieve a year, the majority is are on regulatory compliance.

Imagine facing a health and safety audit and being able to call or email someone to verify your businesses administrative requirements on the spot? Or being able to check employment standards requirements before making changes to an employee’s contract? Or finding out how to get an Employment Insurance premium refund for your spouse that works with you?

What if I told you all of that support is included with a CFIB membership?

Business counsellors are trained to help our members understand their compliance obligations. We are located in each province and serve members by phone or email in French and English. Business counsellors have a wide scope of career and educational backgrounds. Some of us have human resource experience; some of us have run our own businesses; some of us have studied policy, economics, marketing, payroll; and all of us are experts in finding answers. We are an entire team dedicated to helping our members find solutions. There is a special kind of person that usually becomes a business counsellor, and at their core is an individual who loves to help.

In addition to our advice, we offer health and safety packages, human resource templates and letters, we prepare web content, we write blogs, we present webinars. Business counsellors are here for our members.

Members are often surprised to find out just how much we can do. Usually one or two calls to business resources in a year can cover the cost of your membership. CFIB is well known for our small business lobbying efforts and now we also want to be known for our support and advice we provide for our members.

Don’t get tied up in red tape! Get to know us, give us a call. Save your time and your money by letting us find the answers for you while you do what you do best: grow your business.

Need to reach us? That is easy. Call us anywhere in Canada 1 888 234-2232 or email us at


jocelyn.JPGJocelyn Rhindress is the Regional Team Leader of Business Resources for Atlantic Canada. In her more than six year career with CFIB she has answered thousands of member inquiries. She grew up in a household supported by a small business and understands the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship. Jocelyn thoroughly enjoys finding answers, solving problems, giving advice, and supporting members. She is proud to be a part of CFIB where she promotes the vision to be the most courageous, connected and influential voice committed to the growth of Canadian Entrepreneurs. 

Free admission: Small Business Forum in Toronto

On October 25, the City of Toronto’s 16th annual Small Business Forum will illustrate how creative ideas and mentoring can help transform small businesses into larger enterprises.

The all-day forum will feature keynote presentations by inspiring Canadian entrepreneurs Diana Goodwin, Jeremy Potvin and Devon Brooks, along with a mentoring panel and 12 breakout sessions. Details on the keynote speakers:

  • Diana Goodwin is founder and CEO of AquaMobile, an on-demand at-home and condo swim school with 1,500 instructors across Canada and in 25 states across the United States.
  • Jeremy Potvin is the founder of World of Angus, a media and lifestyle e-commerce brand in the pet market. Potvin also mentors with the Founders Institute.
  • Devon Brooks of Vancouver is the co-founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar. Blo is the world’s first and largest franchise chain of blow-dry bars (hair salons specializing in “blowouts”), with more than 70 locations in the U.S., Canada and the Philippines. Brooks, who serves on Futurpreneur Canada’s board of directors, will also be part of the forum’s panel discussing the importance of mentors for start-ups.

The forum will also feature a panel discussion on the Digital Main Street business support platform and will have multiple breakout sessions on effective digital tools and strategies. More than 80 exhibitors will showcase their services for small businesses.

The annual forum, which is attended by more than 2,500 people each year, gives attendees from existing and new businesses alike the opportunity to network and learn from business community peers, including successful entrepreneurs, investors, lending institutions, sector experts and government program providers.

The forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building, Level 800 (exhibit halls F and G). Admission to the forum is free but advance registration is required. For information and to register, visit Interested participants can also follow @enterpriseTO and #SBFTO.

The Small Business Forum is produced by the City of Toronto through Enterprise Toronto. Throughout the year Enterprise Toronto provides services tailored to meet the needs of Toronto’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, helping them to achieve their full potential so they grow to create jobs and contribute to Toronto’s prosperity. Enterprise Toronto is a service provided by the City’s Economic Development and Culture division.

The commitment to building a strong community for small businesses in Toronto is supported by valued sponsors and partners including TD Bank Group, Yellow Pages, Microsoft, Vistaprint and TruShield Insurance.

On Baseball and Business – Are you ready for the Big Leagues?

By: Sheralyn Roman

The only thing that goes better with October than baseball is celebrating Canada’s small businesses. October is national Small Business Month and there’s no better time to take advantage, maximize your business expertise and get your business under the lights Many communities are hosting events geared toward helping small business owners/managers and entrepreneurs take their business to the next level and beyond, especially this October.

It takes a village to go from A-ball to the small business big leagues. Trade shows, small business expos and education events are a great way to get the advice and exposure that can help to put you over the top.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and “knock it out of the park,” consider attending an expo or trade show in your neighbourhood. Featuring both local and global speakers, trade shows are a great place to network, hear sage words of wisdom from seasoned professionals and explore new opportunities for growing your business. There are a number of supports for small business available online and listings for many specific industry-related events are only a mouse-click away. With the BDC estimating there are more than 300 shows taking place across the country during Small Business Week, October 16 – 22nd there is no excuse not to show up ready to “play ball.”

Small business owners are the backbone of this country. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says that 15 per cent of Canadians are self-employed and that one in three people own or work in a small business enterprise. According to RBC Economics, SME’s employment represents 54 per cent of payroll, and according to the BDC, SME’s planned to invest over $111 billion into our economy in 2016.

Are you on track for success, not a strike out. If you need to learn more about how to successfully manage your journey into the big leagues plan your Small Business Week accordingly and take in a trade show, expo or summit near you. Go on – take a seventh-inning stretch away from your workplace and learn how to make your next at bat count, hitting a grand slam for both you and your business!



If you are in the Caledon area during Small Business Week, and would like to learn more about how to successfully manage your journey into the big leagues then join the heavy hitters speaking and attending the SBS. The Small Business Summit takes place Wednesday, October 19th and Thursday, October 20th.

Think Big, Play Big, Think Global/Source Local.

Caledon Centre/ Caledon Recreation and Wellness Centre
14111 Highway 50
Bolton, ON. L7E 2V2

Show Preview Wed., Oct. 19, 5:30pm – 8:00pm
Small Business Summit, Oct. 20 8am to 6pm

Learn more about the Small Business Summit and get your 30% CFIB discount.


Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Entrepreneurs First. Investment Intentions of Canadian Entrepreneurs: An Outlook for 2016. January 2016. Accessed via

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, Small Business Branch. Key Small Business Statistics. June 2016. Accessed via$FILE/KSBS-PSRPE_June-Juin_2016_eng.pdf.

Royal Bank of Canada Economics Research. Q&A on the State of SMEs in Canada. September 30, 2014. Accessed via

Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Economics. Small Business Profile – A look at small business and the self-employed in Canada. 2015. Accessed via

Celebrate Small Business Month at these great events!

CFIB would like to help you celebrate Small Business Month! We will be at these upcoming events and invite you to join us.

sbs-logoSmall Business Summit
October 19th opening night preview and business awards, 5:30 – 8pm Oct. 20, trade show and networking, 8am to 6pm

Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness, 14111 Highway 50, Bolton, ON L7E 2V2

Get your tickets here. CFIB members get your 30% discount using the discount code “CFIB”.

The Small Business Summit features exhibits that cover virtually all areas of business, excellent networking opportunities and expert speakers, including:

  • Bill Walsh of Powerteam International, a top success coach
  • Lance Secretan, global leadership teacher from The Secretan Centre
  • Claudia Harvey, Founder of “On the Verge” and an acclaimed speaker
  • Bassem Ghali of Green Lotus, winner of Entrepreneur of the Year

Click here for more info and follow event updates @theSBSummit and on Facebook.


better-business-expoBetter Business Expo
October 20th, 1-8pm
Ancaster Fairgrounds, 630 Trinity Rd S, Jerseyville, ON   L0R 1R0

Get your tickets here CFIB members get your FREE admission using discount code “cfib”.

The Better Business Expo is Canada’s largest one-day business development and trade show networking event, taking place during Small Business Week. In addition, attendees will receive:

A chance to win a prize package worth $25,000 in a live edition of “Pitch Pit”, a start-up/entrepreneurial competition

  • Social media tutorial
  • 200+ exhibits and a chance to network with hundreds of business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs

Click here for more information about the event, or follow the conversation on Twitter.


small-biz-saturday-2016-header-croppedJoin in on Small Business Saturday Celebrations and win $1,500

Small Business Saturday is October 22nd! Join CFIB, Interac, independent businesses and consumers across the country in celebrating this important day. As an added bonus, you can win $1,500, provided by Interac e-transfer, simply by updating your listing. If you have not yet joined CFIB’s ShopSmallBiz directory, Canada’s only FREE directory exclusive to independent businesses and the people who love to support them, sign up here. Update your listing with photos and/or create a coupon for Small Business Saturday. It’s that simple! You will have the chance to win $1,500 plus special mention on Shop Small Biz and CFIB social media accounts.


small-business-forum_banner_1140x221-croppedSmall Biz Forum
October 25th, 9am – 4pm Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building, Level 800 (exhibit halls F and G) Get your tickets here. Free admission.

The City of Toronto’s 16th annual Small Business Forum will illustrate how creative ideas and mentoring can help transform small businesses into larger enterprises. The all-day forum will feature keynote presentations by inspiring Canadian entrepreneurs Diana Goodwin, Jeremy Potvin and Devon Brooks, along with a mentoring panel. The forum will also feature a panel discussion on the Digital Main Street business support platform and will have multiple breakout sessions on effective digital tools and strategies. More than 80 exhibitors will showcase their services for small businesses.

The annual forum, which is attended by more than 2,500 people each year, gives attendees from existing and new businesses alike the opportunity to network and learn from business community peers, including successful entrepreneurs, investors, lending institutions, sector experts and government program providers.

For information, click here or follow @enterpriseTO and #SBFTO.


E-Series Toronto 2016
October 25, 2016 Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The deadline for E-Series Toronto has been extended. CFIB is a proud sponsor of this educational + mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in the GTA and across Ontario. If you are in need of targeted support to take your business to the next level, get your application in today for this tried-and-true program brought to you by The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs in Toronto.

Free Webinar: Protect your business from credit card fraud

shutterstock_216859354Did you know that one in five small businesses in Canada will get hit with some form of fraud? In fact, the average small business owner will spend more than $6000 fighting fraud.

At CFIB, we help our 109,000 members avoid and combat fraud in their businesses in every way we can. This is why we’ve teamed up with Chase Paymentech and Visa to bring you a free webinar!

In this 30-minute webinar, designed to help you prevent and fight fraud in your place of business, you’ll learn:

  • Small business security basics
  • How to protect customer data
  • Red flags to watch out for
  • PCI Data Security Standards
  • What to do if you get scammed

There will be a 15 minute Q&A at the end of the presentation so please come armed with your questions.

This webinar is free but space is limited. Please sign up for your preferred date below.

Protect Your Business from Credit Card Fraud
October 25, 2016 at 1pm EDT

Protect Your Business from Credit Card Fraud
October 27, 2016 at 1pm EDT


The evolution of business counselling at CFIB

Canadian Federation of Independent Business As a Business Counsellor with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) over the last 20 years, I’ve seen many changes in how we respond to inquiries from small business owners.

The biggest change over the past two decades relates to the role of technology: 20 years ago, there was no internet, no email and information was not as readily available. When you consider that our Business Resources department in Ontario now responds to over 10,000 inquiries a year, and about 30,000 across all provinces, it’s hard to imagine processing these queries without the use of information technology.

There was a time in Business Resources that we had to mail information through Canada Post. I can remember looking up tax information in our in-house library and mailing it out to a member. Government sources were only available to us by telephone, so if a member called about a particular topic, we had to telephone the government and confirm all of the details, as opposed to looking it up on the internet. We then had to call the member back or wait to receive information by mail and mail it out to the member.

To list but one example, we offer our member business owners advice on how to get an Employment Insurance ruling for their family members. The difference now is that we send our members a link to a website with instructions on how to apply, including electronic versions of all the relevant forms. Before the internet, we had to mail out physical hard copies of the handout, the ruling forms, and a letter explaining the procedure for getting a ruling and a refund.

There was a time when the only information we had as a reference on government programs came courtesy of brochures and literature. Information about the Business Development Bank of Canada and other sources of business financing came by way of a brochure that had to be mailed to a member.

What does stay constant over the years is the memorable nature of some of the inquiries we receive. One inquiry in particular that comes to mind was from the agricultural sector. A member asked me for information on how to appropriately compost a cow.

Short answer? There is actually a highly-developed regulatory approach for this, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart.

Some interesting times indeed in CFIB Business Resources over the last twenty years. We’ve certainly come a long way with technology and it makes me wonder what the function will look like 20 years from now.


Nancy Forsyth is a Business Counsellor with CFIB. She has worked at CFIB for almost 28 years, with over 20 years counselling small business members, mainly in Ontario.