With a budget set to come down Thursday, Quebec's largest employers group wants the province’s finance minister to find ways to stimulate the economy.

The Conseil du Patronat says if the government continues the way it is going, the next generation will be saddled with higher taxes and a weaker economy.

The Quebec economy is facing some major challenges -- debt is now 55 per cent of the gross domestic product, the highest rate in Canada and one of the highest in the world.

The province has an aging workforce, high taxes, and some of the most generous social programs in North America.

The group says tuition fees and daycare rates need to be raised, and that the province needs to start exploiting resources such as shale gas.

“That being said, should we go everywhere to explore for shale gas? No, maybe we should start with (a few) pilot projects,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval, the group’s president.

They add the province has to do something to stimulate the economy.

The government needs to stop handing out cash to companies purely to win votes, the group says, and instead invest in companies that are productive.

Brian Rotsztein runs an internet marketing and web design company.

And while the U.S. side of his business has remained steady, he says for more than a year, his Quebec customers are just not buying.

“Some of them actually ask for quotes and say ‘The truth is we might not actually go forward (with) this because we might actually move to Ontario,”” he said.

The group says the government needs a reality check, because proposing to enact laws such as the charter of values hurts business.

“It's a question of attracting and retaining the best manpower the best workers the best skilled work,” Dorval said.

And for those who believe Quebec would be better off as an independent country, the council points out Quebec will receive $9 billion this year in equalization payments from the federal government this year.

Yet most experts believe that with election speculation swirling, this Thursday's budget will paint a rosy picture of the future and be designed to win votes –- a move the council says is the last thing the Quebec economy needs.