Small business confidence rises slightly but still lowest in Canada

Latest CFIB survey taken just before election of majority UCP government

Business confidence among Alberta entrepreneurs grew slightly in April but the province still has the lowest level in the country, according to a report released on Thursday by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The organization’s monthly Business Barometer showed that Alberta posted a gain of two points to 44.1 but that’s still well below the national average of 56.7.

The CFIB says that on its scale of 100, the 65-to-75-point range indicates a healthy and growing economy.

The cutoff for this month’s barometer was April 15, meaning the data is not reflective of the results of the April 16 provincial election that resulted in a majority United Conservative Party government.

“Small businesses in Alberta are desperate to see leadership from all levels of government to better support them,” said Richard Truscott, the organization’s vice-president for Alberta and B.C., in a news release.

“With the election now settled, it is essential that all political parties collaborate on policies that encourage the growth and success of Alberta’s small and medium-sized businesses.”

Here are the latest business confidence ratings across the country, according to the CFIB: Nova Scotia (66.7), Quebec (63.6), Prince Edward Island  (60.7), Ontario (59.1), British Columbia (55.5), New Brunswick (53.5), Manitoba (50.9), Saskatchewan (50.4), Newfoundland and Labrador (48.8), and Alberta (44.1).

Rishi Sondhi, an economist with TD Economics, said national small business confidence is holding around levels last seen in late 2015 and early 2016, when economic growth was quite mild.

“Confidence remains low in oil-sensitive provinces, led by Alberta, where the index is 10 points off its long-term average. Firms are in better spirits in the eastern part of Canada, with firm economic conditions underpinning particularly elevated moods in Quebec and Nova Scotia,” wrote Sondhi in a commentary note.

– Mario Toneguzzi

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