AB Small Business Confidence Reaches Another All-time Low

Optimism among entrepreneurs at lowest level ever recorded in Canada

CALGARY, December 31, 2015 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released the Business Barometer results for December that shows Alberta’s small business confidence index dropped 4.3 points to 33.1. This latest result is more than 23 points below the next lowest province (Saskatchewan) and is the weakest ever recorded anywhere in Canada in the 15 years CFIB has been tracking small business optimism.

“The scariest part is we typically see an upward bump in December due to the busy holiday season, especially for the service and retail sectors. The fact the index instead dropped by a sizeable margin is very worrisome,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB Vice-President for Alberta and BC. “The year ahead is shaping up to be one of the toughest years for small business in the history of our province.”

Hiring plans remained very negative with 30 per cent of owners saying they will reduce their full-time workforce, up six points from November, compared with only nine per cent who intend to hire, down four points. The December 2015 hiring sentiment is almost exactly the opposite of what it was one year ago.

“By all measures, employers are reeling from the enormous downturn in the economy that isn’t showing any signs of letting up,” added Truscott. “To make matters worse, the provincial government has dog-piled on small businesses by rushing through a series of major policy changes, including hiking personal and corporate income taxes, putting Alberta on the path to a $15 an hour minimum wage, and introducing a carbon tax on pretty much everything in the economy. No wonder business owners are feeling gloomy about the future.”

On a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level between 65 and 75 is typically when the economy is growing.

The national index for December dropped three points to 55.7. Across the country, Nova Scotia (71.0) was home to nation’s most confident entrepreneurs, followed by Manitoba (66.4), B.C. (65.9), Newfoundland & Labrador (64.8), New Brunswick (61.8), PEI (61.1), Ontario (59.9), Quebec (59.6), Saskatchewan (56.3), and Alberta (33.1).

The December 2015 findings are based on 759 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through December 14. Findings are considered accurate to +\- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.