Small business confidence remains subdued says CFIB

There was little improvement in April across most provinces

Small business confidence remains subdued says CFIB
Steve Randall

Canada’s small businesses remains concerned about the state of the Canadian economy and how global factors including trade disputes may impact growth.

A monthly indictor of sentiment among small businesses shows little month-over-month improvement in April with most provinces showing subdued confidence.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses’ Business Barometer was at 56.7 in April and the survey shows that 39% of business owners say their business is in good shape, 11% say it’s in bad shape.

“Small businesses are still feeling under the weather, with most of the indicators we measure reflecting a modest performance at best,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “In fact, confidence in nearly all provinces showed little movement this month.”

Hiring intentions were slightly higher this month than in March with 19% of business owners planning to hire full-time staff, while 13% plan to cut back.

Small business owners’ confidence may also have been weakened this month by the approaching tax deadline, with filing returns reportedly becoming more complicated.

Regional data
Nova Scotia’s confidence level of 66.7 index points remained unchanged at the top spot, followed by Quebec, which lost 1.7 index points to 63.6.

Prince Edward Island also gained an index point, rising to 60.7.

Despite experiencing the biggest confidence increase and rising 2 index points to 44.1, Alberta remained the least optimistic province.

New Brunswick experienced the greatest confidence loss, dropping 3.1 index points to 53.5. Ontario (59.1), British Columbia (55.5), Manitoba (50.9) and Saskatchewan (50.4) all lost less than one index point over last month’s results.

Newfoundland & Labrador remained weak but steady at 48.8.

Sector confidence
Businesses in natural resources regained some of their confidence, but remained the least optimistic sector at 43.3, closely followed by agriculture, which fell 4.4 index points to 44.6.

The information sector experienced a major 10.0 index point drop to 50.0.

The professional services sector gained 8.2 index points and jumped to the highest confidence level (68.8), followed by health services at 65.3