By Mo Cranker 
BELLEVILLE – Ontario’s dropping business confidence is hitting Belleville’s business core, said the head of Belleville’s Chamber of Commerce  Thursday.
Bill Saunders, the chief executive officer for Chamber of Commerce, said the Emerging Stronger 2015  report indicates over the past year any of the positive feelings for business’s future in 2015 have taken a huge hit. Those surveyed said they feel the Ontario economy is going in the wrong direction. It looked at 13 industries and found low expectations in each one.
The fourth annual report says while the Ontario government is making big strides, it still faces a growing debt and big problems with replacing infrastructure. Yet this year’s report also indicates that there is still a lot of room to grow with regards to business confidence.
The report shows, of the retailers surveyed across Ontario, only 44 per cent of them were confident about their business outlook for this year. That’s a 25 per cent drop from last year.
These trends are reflected locally.
“The majority of Belleville’s businesses are in the retail sector and this happens to be the least confident group,” said Saunders.
The study looked at 13 areas to get business’s perspectives. This included, health care, automotive/manufacturing and financial services. The average for the 13 categories is sitting just above half at 58 per cent, down from 74 per cent in 2014, the report said.
Saunders also identified other major concerns locally.
“Two of the biggest concerns for businesses are the changes in minimum wage and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan . They’re both lowering business confidences,” Saunders said.
The Ontario government is looking at creating a pension plan to supplement the federal Canada Pension Plan.
Saunders confirmed that local businesses did take part in the survey but he did not say how many.
He also said that he believes this is not just a local issue, but business confidence is an Ontario-wide issue.