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Photographs of Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty prior to and during a Globe and Mail interview at his Queen's Park office on Oct 4 2010. (Fred Lum / The Globe and Mail) DIGITAL IMAGE

The Globe and Mail

Current policies of the Ontario government are clouding the province's already gloomy economic outlook, according to a new survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Of the nearly 3,400 respondents, 58 per cent say they lack confidence in the province's economic future, with 69 per cent citing electricity - particularly the Time-of-Use Metering - as the government's most negative policy.

"While certainly not all of the challenges facing Ontario are caused by government, entrepreneurs believe that provincial policies are making the problem worse and causing a withering of the economy," stated Satinder Chera, CFIB's Ontario vice-president.

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Besides rising energy costs and the introduction of Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), small businesses are worried about increases to environmental fees and levies, as well as hikes to minimum wage.

And, with 87 per cent of respondents feeling they don't believe they're getting a clear view of the challenges facing the economy, Mr. Chera states, "they have an opportunity to overcome this credibility gap by using the upcoming Economic Statement to give small businesses the tools they need to create and retain jobs."

The survey was conducted online between Sept. 30 and Oct. 19, 2010. Results are based on the responses of 3,360 CFIB members in Ontario and are considered accurate to within 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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