A Look Inside at guiding organizational change

Organizational Change: Managing the Emotions of Transition

“Unprecedented change” is a phrase heard a lot in 2020. No doubt there is much more to come, as we manage through continuous, evolving change with ever-shifting timelines and uncertain hopes for when we might all “get back to normal.”

No organization is untouched by COVID-19. At the very least, the pandemic has necessitated a transition to remote working and trying to find ways to carry on business as usual. Most organizations have seen a significant disruption to operating models and business strategies, that have resulted in – or may still result in – changes to their workforce – in size, structure or both.

Many of these changes aren’t short-term or temporary. “Normal” will be very different from how it used to look.

With so many of our colleagues grappling with an uncertain future, we’ve had many conversations about looming changes and how to manage them. These discussions all have some common themes: How to communicate with employees, customers and stakeholders about what is changing, how and why; coming to grips with impending layoffs; transitioning to a long-term model of remote working; moving to smaller physical office spaces; keeping employees engaged in workplace culture from afar; mentoring young team members in a virtual space; helping older employees adapt to digital platforms; and above all, managing anxieties and reassuring staff that the organization remains stable.

Our advice is, whatever transition or restructuring your organization faces, it will require deft communications, founded on empathy, transparency and consistency.

We’re here to help.

Our Services:

  • Executive Advice and Counsel: our team has advised senior politicians and top executives across the country.

  • Strategic Planning and Project Management: we help organizations maintain focus, setting out clear objectives and paths to reach them – tracking, measuring and adjusting along the way.

  • Writing: our communications team includes former journalists, political speechwriters and veterans of corporate and agency communications war rooms. We are storytellers and newscasters at our core.

  • Facilitation: we offer professional facilitation in-house, enabling workshops, seminars and two-way dialogue to be incorporated into strategic planning and execution.

  • Creative Services: the Hub at Enterprise, our in-house creative agency, includes designers, video producers, marketers and digital strategists that help build, shape and move conversation.

  • Government Relations: our team of government relations and public affairs consultants help organizations navigate the political landscape, access government resources and build important relationships with policy and decision makers at all levels.

  • Media Relations and Training: we offer a full range of proactive and reactive media relations support, as well as providing comprehensive interview and presentation training.

What Sets Us Apart:

  • We have deep experience and expertise in internal communications and employee engagement, including mergers and acquisitions, leadership transitions, layoffs, new brand and strategy direction, physical office / workplace transitions, and reputation management.

  • In our approach to communications, employee milestones are prioritized over operational milestones. Our focus is on ensuring employees stay informed and engaged throughout the transition process.

  • We counter fear of the unknown and inspire comfort with change through a campaign mindset, driven by clear and consistent communication, delivering a vision for the future and a steady cadence of open and honest information to employees.

  • We are well-versed in government, media and community relationships. We’re ready to support on all fronts when your internal change has external implications.

  • We are crisis and risk experts. Better still, we are adept at foreseeing and mitigating issues before they become crises.

  • Our signature Look Inside process is founded on the knowledge that decisions – and change – are emotional. We delve into the emotional drivers and barriers that motivate behavior, ensuring that transition strategies lead with empathy, recognize and shape internal culture, and overcome resistance to change.

  • We’re creative, crafting communications products that reach audiences across multiple mediums. Clear, concise text, compelling graphics and visuals, meaningful events (live and virtual) and video storytelling are all vital tools in our communications toolbox.

  • We are committed to long-term client relationships, supporting organizations before, during and after change. We believe this continuity is critical to success.

  • We follow our own advice, treating clients with the respect, empathy and humanity we advocate as the foundation of positive corporate culture, even – especially – in times of transition.

Indigenous owned and operated water utility launching through new partnership model

The Okanagan Indian Band Group of Companies to create community-led, owned and operated water utility through a Public-Private-Community Partnership (PPCP) approach

December 14, 2020 – Vernon, B.C. – The first Indigenous owned and operated water utility in Canada developed by way of Public-Private-Community Partnership (PPCP), is a step closer to reality with a formal agreement signed last month between the Okanagan Indian Band Group of Companies (OKIB GC), EPCOR and Enterprise Canada.

The companies will identify commercial opportunities in utilities-related infrastructure, including water, wastewater and irrigation management systems, to provide quality drinking water and ensure adequate firefighting supply to serve the Okanagan Indian Band’s reserve lands.

A PPCP takes the traditional Public-Private Partnership model (or “P3”), formed between governments and the private sector, and involves the impacted community or communities at the beginning of the decision-making process. This approach enables communities to direct and benefit from initiatives in their region as a full project partner.

The OKIB GC water utility will lead to skills training and employment opportunities for community members, in clear alignment with the fundamental right of self-determination for First Nations peoples in Canada. The professional partnership will support ongoing business arrangements to further socio-economic development opportunities for the Syilx of the Okanagan Indian Band.

“This initiative brings OKIB GC in as equal partners at the decision-making tables of mainstream corporate Canada,” said Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band. “With shared goals, we are moving forward to invest in the economic and human resources development opportunities in our region and equipping our members with the necessary training to work with a utility owned and operated by our community.”

“EPCOR is committed to exploring opportunities that see First Nations communities become active partners in projects that deliver essential services and generate economic benefits for their communities,” said Stephen Stanley, Senior Vice President of EPCOR Commercial Services Ltd. “Our work with Okanagan Indian Band will realize this potential, while developing First Nations’ capacity in utility operations and management, helping to build a strong and prosperous future.”

“We are proud to work with the OKIB GC and EPCOR on this exciting new venture with the community at the helm of the decision-making table,” said Enterprise CEO Barbara Fox. “We firmly believe partnerships like this are the future of improved opportunities for Indigenous communities. Drawing on our relationships with communities, corporations and government at all levels, Enterprise is in a prime position to bring together the right mix of people and financing and move this project forward to the next phase of development.”

In the coming weeks and months, OKIB GC, EPCOR and Enterprise will formalize the utility’s corporate and financing structures, with blended financing options, and formulate a Community Human Resources Inventory to identify and develop technical and managerial skills among community members, especially women, interested in taking part in this opportunity.

The OKIB Group of Companies is owned by the Okanagan Indian Band. OKIB GC was established to develop business opportunity on behalf of the Band, and is actively developing partnerships for the purpose of pursuing economic and human resources development opportunities within the Okanagan Indian Band’s reserve lands. The Okanagan Indian Band has six reserves. The majority of these reserves are located within the proximity of Vernon, B.C., with one reserve being adjacent to the District of Lake Country in the Okanagan.

About EPCOR Utilities Inc:
EPCOR, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, builds, owns, and operates electrical, natural gas and water transmission and distribution networks; water and wastewater treatment facilities; sanitary and stormwater systems; and infrastructure in Canada and the United States. The Company also provides electricity, natural gas and water products and services to residential and commercial customers. Headquartered in Edmonton, EPCOR has been recognized as an Alberta Top 75 employer.

About Enterprise
Enterprise is a national strategic communications firm with consultants drawn from senior levels in politics, government, media, marketing, and business to deliver a full range of communications, government relations, public affairs, digital and public relations services. Enterprise formed its Infrastructure and Development Practice in 2018 with a team of industry leaders from across Canada to clear the way for sustainable development through partnerships that see Indigenous Peoples and communities directing projects and opportunities that impact them directly. Engage socially on Twitter @EntCanada and find more information about Enterprise’s Development Practice here.

Epcor Logo
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For more information, please contact:

Greg Kazakoff, Interim CEO and Director, OKIB Group of Companies
(250) 241-6708

EPCOR Media Relations
(780) 721-9001

Barbara Fox, CEO, Enterprise Canada
(647) 260-4003


Ontario Budget

Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips delivered Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. As in the spring, the government has had to scale back its ambitions for a true multi-year fiscal plan in favour of this tailored ‘mini-budget’ focused on response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our team put together an analysis.

Download/View Ontario Budget - November 5, 2020

Download here


Alberta’s Fiscal Update

Earlier today, Alberta’s President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, Travis Toews, unveiled the First Quarter Fiscal Update and Economic Statement.

It’s the first look at the state of Alberta’s finances since the start of the pandemic and the oil price crash. It’s the biggest deficit in provincial history, at $24.2 billion.

Our Enterprise team has put together a full analysis.

Download/View Alberta’s Fiscal Update

Download here

The North is Waiting: Indigenous infrastructure investments could lead to future economic prosperity

This article was originally published in the July/August issue of ReNew Canada Magazine.
By Barbara Fox

Finally. It’s time to look at recovery. And as the whole of the Canadian economy looks to rebuild from the massive hit delivered by COVID-19, there is no better time than today to look North.

After a brutal start to 2020, the conversation is shifting beyond getting through the day-to-day to how we can get our people and industries moving again.

And as we get moving toward a new sense of normal, there are three key areas to focus our attention on if we plan to fast track the recovery:

The North and Arctic. What better way to drive economic recovery than the one trillion dollars of infrastructure opportunity waiting in the far North? Regional infrastructure often grabs attention – mines, ports for northern shipping lane access, or transmission like the very successful Five Nations’ East West Tie Line and Wataynikaneyap Power projects in Northern Ontario.

Community infrastructure. While the large-scale projects are critical, they are overshadowed by the need for homes, drinking water and waste systems, roads, schools, health care and community centres as well as local electricity and broadband services. Imagine literally building southern communities from scratch. The opportunities are immense.

Equitable Indigenous partnership. This is most important. While the long distance and lack of access have slowed down development in northern communities, the main barrier has historically been the lack of involvement of local Indigenous communities as partners in planning, development, and community building, and the necessary internal and connecting infrastructure.

To step back a bit, one of the last points of normalcy for Enterprise Canada, the national strategic communications firm that I lead, was on March 2. And it seems like an eternity ago.

The pandemic was on the horizon, but not yet impacting life as we knew it in North America.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s 2020 conference was in full swing. The Prime Minister stopped by. The Ontario government announced progress on an access road to the Ring of Fire in partnership with Marten Falls and Webequie. And we made an announcement with Matawa First Nations.

The nine member communities— including Marten Falls and Webequie—with their Chiefs and Councils had agreed to pursue and direct major community infrastructure projects on their lands, preparing themselves to be active partners and leaders in the massive economic opportunity headed for northern Ontario in the coming decades.

We at Enterprise, along with PCL Constructors, Ontario Power Generation and EPCOR Utilities, had the privilege of taking part as the “major Canadian companies” noted at the time.

Then COVID-19 put the world on pause.

I am often asked what a strategic communications firm is doing in the infrastructure space. It’s a fair question. To put it simply, communications at its core is about relationships. It’s about building trust and understanding people—their wants and wishes, their concerns, and addressing those emotional drivers to create solutions.

Over the last number of years, I have watched project planning across the country ramp up only to stall or fizzle out completely after opposition from local communities over the intended use of their traditional lands.

Many companies have not adapted their approach to understand the concerns and nuances of working with Indigenous Peoples. They do not have the relationships at the local-level, and in many cases, their approaches have been transactional without the meaningful partnership required to bring the community along with the success of the project.

On the other hand, many First Nations and other Indigenous communities are looking to address long-standing community issues through development, but don’t have a clear “in” with the corporations that could deliver help.

That’s where Enterprise comes in. By using our relationships with Indigenous communities and leaders, corporate Canada and government of all levels, we are in a prime position to bring people together. We identify like-minded partnerships that can see projects come to fruition, successfully.

Indigenous owned and led projects that bring direct benefits to local communities. That is the guiding philosophy of our development practice. Indeed, it is the future of Canada’s infrastructure and resource development sector.

And so, throughout the lock-down, our work continued.

From Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver, from Thunder Bay and far beyond across the North, Enterprise continued to facilitate the project planning with each of our alliance partners and the leadership of various Indigenous communities. Getting shovel ready from living rooms and home offices with a model that we refer to as a “PPCP”—a public- private-community partnership for people- focused, sustainable development.

As early as April, word was swirling that federal cabinet ministers not directly involved COVID-19 response had been called to address post-recovery stimulus. From the Diefenbaker era of Roads to Resources to Pearson’s Building our North, it’s no secret that the quick spurring of infrastructure spending has been a tried and trusted recovery measure in times of economic strife.

While so much of this current crisis is new and uncharted, that much is still true.

And while the root cause of this economic disaster is different, the best national case study for recovery continues to be Canada’s actions following the Great Recession of 2008. Then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Economic Action Plan, a $61 billion package of federal stimulus and provincial spending—a small amount relative to what we expect to see for post-COVID recovery. That Plan outlined five focus areas to spur Canada back to fiscal health.

This included measures to strengthen the financial system and to stimulate spending among the Canadian public to address the needs of that situation, as well as short-term support for businesses and communities. More than $7 billion was committed to stimulate housing construction with a massive influx of infrastructure funding to the tune of $12 billion.

That infrastructure bill covered construction and repair to roads, bridges and harbours and increased broadband infrastructure nationally. Basic, foundational infrastructure development that could be conducted quickly to spur the economy and put money back into the pockets of Canadians and the financial system as a whole.

While much can be done in fixing potholes, mending bridges, improving highway networks, even building out transit systems down south, development across northern Canada holds a mass of opportunity for infrastructure—and the jobs across the nation that come with it.

Here in 2020, there are roads, homes, schools, electricity, hospitals—the very basics of the foundation for whole communities— that have been waiting for decades for shovels to hit the ground. There are more than 60 communities across Canada under long-term boil-water advisories that could benefit from water utility infrastructure. This development won’t just make lives better. It can save them.

Even the excitement around the Ring of Fire cannot become reality without the necessary investment in not just roads, but mining camps, electricity transmission, water and waste-water facilities and operational needs for a regional population that’s predicted by some to boom to the size of a city. And before all of that, it will need local partnerships.

Many of the major infrastructure opportunities left in our country are in or around Indigenous communities, far in northern Canada. Not only that, there’s a lot more to come.

Guggenheim Partners have projected that more than USD$1 trillion in infrastructure is headed to the Arctic region by 2040 as warmer waters and receding ice coverage open up a Northern sea route for global trade. That’s roads, rails, ports, electricity infrastructure, and community building.

As we navigate this recovery and move back to a period of prosperity, any Canadian company that hopes to take part in this Northern Boom without meaningful and real Indigenous partnerships can attempt to try at the expense of their own balance sheet. It’s no small feat, to be sure. The massive scope of these projects will need the leadership of the communities on the ground, and the strategic, technical planning and expertise of the kinds of private-sector companies that can get it done—not as owners, but as partners.

In a time when we, as a country, need to move money on a scale larger than ever before, we owe it to Indigenous communities across Canada to meaningfully share in the rebuild, for the benefit of all of us. The whole of the Canadian economy will be lucky for their partnership.

Alberta Legislative Highlights – Cabinet shuffle

Today, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveiled his first cabinet shuffle since winning the provincial election in 2019. The small shuffle, called a “limited cabinet reset,” focuses on implementation of Alberta’s Recovery Plan. Here’s what’s changed:

  • Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General – Edmonton’s lone MLA in the government caucus moves from Municipal Affairs to take over as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. A lawyer by training, Minister Madu is now tasked with overseeing the ongoing review of the province’s Police Act as well as implementing the UCP government’s democratic reform agenda, including citizen’s initiatives and recall legislation.
  • Tracy Allard, Minister of Municipal Affairs – Minister Allard is a new addition to cabinet. The first-time MLA from Grande Prairie comes from a business background, franchising Tim Hortons restaurants in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and in Grande Prairie. Premier Kenney said that Minister Allard has a bit of Margaret Thatcher to her, with “an iron fist and a velvet glove.” She takes over the role from Kaycee Madu, who moves to Justice and Solicitor General.
  • Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation – The Economic Development, Trade and Tourism portfolio is being renamed with added functions to be clarified in the coming weeks. Minister Schweitzer, a bankruptcy lawyer by training, will be overseeing much of the implementation of the province’s economic recovery plan. He replaces Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir, who is no longer in cabinet.

One key change to senior staff change is the departure of the Premier’s Principal Secretary Howard Anglin. Mr. Anglin, who previously served as Chief of Staff to then-federal Minister Jason Kenney, recently accepted a post-graduate fellowship at Oxford University. He is being replaced by Larry Kaumeyer.

WHAT’S NEXT – Alberta’s First Quarter Fiscal and Economic Update will be released on Thursday. It will be the first detailed look at the province’s fiscal situation after a difficult year with both the pandemic and oil price crash. As a result, it is expected to be the largest deficit in provincial history.


Ontario Fiscal Outlook

Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Phillips has released 2020-21 First Quarter Finances today, simultaneously giving a look at what Ontario has had to spend in order to manage COVID-19’s health and economic impact and a look forward at what Ontario must do in order to manage a second wave.

Download/View COVID-19 Provincial Measures Update Report

Enterprise strengthens Hamilton team with addition of homegrown talent

Enterprise is excited to announce the hiring of Jesse Shea as our new Public Affairs Consultant based out of the recently launched and growing Hamilton office.

A born and raised Hamiltonian, Jesse has a wealth of experience in political campaign management, strategic communications and policy development locally, provincially, and federally. Jesse comes to Enterprise after spending half a decade working for a Liberal Member of Parliament in Ottawa.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jesse to the team as we continue to expand our government relations and public affairs practices in Hamilton,” says Enterprise CEO Barbara Fox. “With his experience and unique perspective, there is no doubt Jesse will make significant contributions to serving our clients.”

Jesse has worked closely with the Hamilton community and its stakeholders through his work with local candidates, elected officials, and government ministers. He has spent years working in Ottawa developing his relationship with the federal Liberal government and brings with him an extensive network to assist our clients.

From his involvement with the federal All-Party Steel Caucus on issues pertaining the renegotiation of NAFTA, to helping small and medium-size enterprises and grassroots community organizations navigate the complexity of government, he’s has ensured that corporate and local voices are heard in government decision making.

Jesse’s strong network enables him to effectively navigate local issues in both Toronto and Ottawa. With his political intuition, skill in issues management and deep understanding of local dynamics, Jesse provides “Made in Hamilton” solutions to ensure that our clients succeed.

“Jesse knows the Hamilton community and understands the issues and opportunities local business face better than most,” says Enterprise President Jason Lietaer. “He’s got the right mix of experience in the city and in Ottawa and we’re excited to have him on board to help us grow our business in the GTHA.”


Incentives needed to unlock private capital to invest in private Canadian businesses

Article originally published in The Star
By Susan McArthur
Contributors Betsy Hilton and Dennis Matthews

It’s called sticker shock: That moment of honesty and dismay when the final bill arrives. We’re not even close to that moment when it comes to Ottawa’s COVID-19 spending, but that feeling is starting to set in.

So far, deficit spending has reached $343 billion this year covering everything from wage subsidies and unemployment benefits to money for seniors, students, rent relief and loans to business.

It may look like some politicians believe we can spend our way out of the economic shock, recession, and, perhaps, depression headed our way.

But what if tax dollars aren’t the only way to free up much needed investment dollars? What if there was a way to encourage Canadians to use their own capital to provide stimulus and support Canadian business?

Wealthy Canadians and corporations are holding cash and there are few incentives for them to invest in private Canadian businesses.

While the 2008 global economic crisis hit the big banks hardest, today’s calamity has struck a death blow to small business with little in the way of assistance coming from Ottawa.

That’s not to say a few small loan programs haven’t been helpful; they just haven’t moved the needle, and many small business owners have been reluctant to take on the risk of additional debt.

A recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that 25 per cent of small businesses will close their doors if they sustain a 50-per-cent drop in revenue for a month.

Many Canadian business owners are already well past that point. This is a tragedy. Small businesses are the heart and soul of the Canadian economy.

If you are a successful small business owner who has built a nest egg over many years, it is unlikely you will double down during a pandemic and reinvest your savings to keep your business afloat.

If you are evaluating an investment in, for example, a tech company looking for additional capital, the risks have increased significantly.

Unlocking private capital would provide additional support from Canadians who are not only looking for a return, but are also emotionally invested in the business’s success.

We’ve seen grassroots, microscale economic support for small business in communities across the country, including from community crowdfunding platform Distantly.ca, which enables individuals to send funds directly to local businesses.

The platform was conceived to make sure Mainstreet was still open post lock down.

Businesses such as restaurants, salons and gyms, which are closing their doors daily, would benefit greatly from an incentive for Canadians to make a much bigger commitment with that support.

Small businesses have a desperate need for capital to invest in digital transformation, working capital, personal protective equipment and other modifications required to comply with new pandemic regulations.

If Canada is going to emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient, we need tax policy to encourage Canadians to invest in our small businesses.

We are not looking for anything unique or groundbreaking here. A handful of Canadian provinces have tax policy that encourages private investment in small business. New Brunswick has the Small Business Investor Tax Credit program, the most generous in the country.

If you live in New Brunswick and invest in a small business, you get a personal income tax credit of 50 per cent of your investment up to maximum of $125,000 annually. Corporations, trusts, co-ops and local economic development agencies are entitled to similar benefits upon investment. In the last five years, the program has generated almost $450 million of investment, supporting 2,200 small businesses in New Brunswick.

The federal government needs a bold, game-changing tax policy that will encourage Canadians with capital, including small business owners, to step off the sidelines and invest in small business.

We must establish qualifying parameters that encourage small businesses to grow. We must set the bar high in defining “small business,” so we don’t discourage growth.

The U.S. does this well. Section 1202 of its tax code allows for tax-free capital gains of up to $10 million or 10-times the investment if it is in a private business with up to $50 million in assets.

It’s a bold idea. That is easy to implement, were Ottawa so inclined.

As New Brunswick did, the federal government could provide an income tax credit to Canadians for investment in small- and medium-sized businesses. Business owners who double down and reinvest in their own business, could get a tax holiday on income earned, or charge no tax on dividends paid, for up to three-times the invested capital. For investors looking to back potential high-growth entrepreneurs, the program could provide tax-free capital gains — up to tenfold.

Ottawa has the power to do all of the above.

High-income earners in Canada pay more than half of their income to the government, not including municipal and sales tax.

Why not create a plan where Canadians can choose to provide private stimulus and invest in the small businesses and entrepreneurs so vital to the Canadian economy?

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Enterprise Presents: The Re-opening Checklist

Get insight from the Enterprise team as we reveal our checklist designed to help your organization navigate challenges when the economy begins to re-open.

Special guest Eric Reguly, European Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail, joins us from Rome to provide his expertise and a look inside the current scenario in Italy and Europe, including their strategies and response to re-opening.