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Ontario businesses are optimistic, but wary about provincial economic outlook

Chamber of Commer report says members are wary about a number of government initiatives and their impacts.


TORONTO — A new Ontario Chamber of Commerce survey suggests only 25% of its members are confident in the province’s economic outlook, despite being optimistic about their own futures.

The “confidence gap” in the chamber’s economic report shows that of the members surveyed, 62% are confident in their own business’ outlook, but only 24% said the same of the province as a whole.

“If OCC members are largely optimistic about their own organization’s economic outlook, why are they so pessimistic about that of the province?” the report asks.

“One reason is direction and governance: only a minority of OCC members believe that a number of major government policies and initiatives will have a positive impact on their organization.”

Only 8% of the businesses said the Liberal government’s cap-and-trade plan would benefit them, with 13% saying the same for the Canadian Pension Plan enhancement, which there was a strong push for from the Ontario government.

About 40% each said they thought infrastructure investments and an electricity rebate would benefit them.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she doesn’t know why businesses are so much more confident in their own growth than in the province’s.

“What I would have to say is: ‘Look, as businesses thrive, Ontario thrives, jobs are created.”’ she said. “Ontario is leading economic growth in the country this year. We are right at the top in terms of economic growth.”

Almost 80% of the businesses surveyed expect to maintain or increase their revenue in the next year and more than one quarter expect to increase staffing levels.

But the chamber says small businesses are less likely to predict growth, and “given that small businesses make up the majority of enterprise in Ontario, this is a particularly important difference in perception.”

More than half of businesses ranked both acquiring suitable staff and electricity prices as one of the top factors affecting their organization’s health.

The survey of 773 Ontario Chamber of Commerce members, which represents the interests of businesses in the province, was conducted online by Fresh Intelligence between Oct. 25 and Nov. 30, 2016.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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