Alberta small business optimism hits six month low

Every province and 11 out of 13 industries see confidence drop in April

CALGARY, April 26, 2018 – The latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveal Alberta’s small business optimism now sits at 54.7, down 1.6 points from March and the lowest level in six months.

National small business confidence fell for the third consecutive month in April, dropping more than four points to 56.6, the third lowest reading for Canada in the past decade. Alberta lags behind the national index by 1.9 points.

“The last time we reached business confidence levels this low was during the 2008-09 economic crisis and again during the 2015-16 energy price crunch,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta. “With declines in confidence in all 10 provinces and 11 out of 13 industries, there’s not a lot of optimism amongst Canada’s small business owners.”

Hiring intentions for Alberta’s small business owners remain unchanged. Fifteen per cent plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, while eighteen per cent are looking to cut back.

“While there is no single factor that influences small business confidence, there has been a widespread erosion of confidence following announcements regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This escalating issue is no longer about whether a pipeline should be built. It’s an issue of whether or not businesses – large or small – can invest with confidence knowing the rules won’t change after the fact,” said Ruddy.

In April, the health of Alberta businesses dipped. Twenty per cent of entrepreneurs describe the general state of health of their business as good, representing a four point drop from March. This compares to twenty four per cent of Alberta business owners who describe their business’ health as poor, up three points from the previous month.

Industry results: agriculture and transportation buck negative trend
Transportation sector confidence jumped 5.1 points in April to 63.9, and agriculture saw a 2.2 point increase to 53.1 to mark the only bright spots in sectoral confidence. Despite the increase, agriculture remains the sector with the lowest confidence score. The remaining 11 industries all saw their confidence fall, anchored by professional and enterprise services’ 7.7 point drop.

Provincial Results: down across the board
The other provincial numbers were: Quebec (68.7); Nova Scotia (67.9); Prince Edward Island (65.3); British Columbia (61.4); New Brunswick (60.9); Manitoba (59.9); Ontario (56.9); Saskatchewan (54.6); and Newfoundland and Labrador (50.8).

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level 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 means the economy is growing at its potential.

The April 2018 findings are based on 740 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflects responses received through to April 16, 2018. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:

Deneene Hamilton-Irving, CFIB Alberta            or         Kiara Morrissey, CFIB National
403-444-9290                                                                        647-464-2814                                                        

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta. Learn more at