Small Business Confidence Continues Downward Trend


One in five Alberta entrepreneurs look to cut back on staff as tax pressures rise

CALGARY – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released the latest Business Barometer numbers showing Alberta’s small business confidence falling.  Confidence levels dropped three and half points in August to 40.4, barely above 2008-recessionary lows.  The resource sector continues to show the weakest levels of optimism in the country.

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 of between 65 and 75 is an indication the economy is growing at its potential.

“Alberta’s small business owners are feeling the pinch.  Taxes, red tape and wage pressures are weighing them down.  They are looking for ways to cope with this downturn, including difficult decisions in their businesses about staffing levels,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s Alberta Director.

Short-term hiring plans remain inverted.  Twenty percent of Alberta’s business owners in August expected to cut full-time staff within the next three months, versus only 15 per cent who plan to add staff.  Tax and regulatory costs are a major cost constraint for 60 per cent of business owners, up 7 points compared to July.  Wage pressures remained high with 59 per cent of business owners reporting their concern.

“The provincial government is missing an opportunity to instill confidence among Alberta’s job creators.  The negative impact corporate tax increases and planned minimum wage hikes are having can no longer be ignored.  There is no better time than now for the Premier to share her vision for restoring small business confidence across the province,” said Ruddy.

Optimism took a sharp turn in British Columbia, losing over three points to 64.1. Saskatchewan saw confidence increase for the fourth consecutive month, jumping over seven points to 61.9 – its highest level since November, 2014.  Manitoba slid four points to 53.8.  Ontario climbed to 61.3, while Quebec slipped to 57.3.  Newfoundland and Labrador’s business confidence fell six points to 57.0.  Nova Scotia jumped to 65.7, second highest in the country, while New Brunswick fell to 61.1.  Prince Edward Island saw a small drop to 67.3 but remains the most optimistic province in the country.

August, 2015 findings are based on 302 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through August 17.  Findings are considered accurate to +\- 3.1 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, including 10,000 in Alberta