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BC small business confidence on downward trend

Now ranked fifth overall in Canada, down two spots                                

VANCOUVER, February 25, 2016 – According to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), BC’s small business optimism dropped 1.7 points in February to 61.1. 

While Canadian small business confidence increased for the first time in five months, it declined in BC for a third consecutive month. BC’s February confidence index is down 5.5 points since November and 8 points from the same month last year. Significant gains in PEI and Quebec pushed BC out of the top three for the first time since September 2013. BC is now the fifth ranked province in Canada and has seen its margin over the national index (54.7) narrow to 6.4 points.

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.

“BC small business owners continue to show concern about the economic climate going forward. Although optimism remains higher than for the average Canadian entrepreneur, that advantage has been fading in recent months”, says Aaron Aerts, CFIB economist in BC.

To view the full report, please visit Business Barometer

The weakening Canadian dollar has increasingly become a major input cost concern for many small businesses in BC. Thirty eight per cent in February identify foreign currency as being a major input cost constraint, up 4 points from last month and 12 points from the same month last year.

Hiring intentions are gaining momentum, with 28 per cent of business owners saying they plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, up 7 points from last month. This compared to 9 per cent expecting to cut back.

Forty-five per cent of entrepreneurs in February believe the general state of health of their business was good, versus 9 per cent who describe it as poor.

The national Business Barometer index increased 0.3 points in February to 54.7. The provincial numbers were: Nova Scotia (66.9), Quebec (66.3), PEI (65.5), Manitoba (61.5), New Brunswick (61.0), Ontario (60.8), Newfoundland & Labrador (53.5), Saskatchewan (52.4), and Alberta (26.7).

The February 2016 findings are based on 723 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through to February 15 which was prior to the tabling of BC’s provincial budget. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with BC Economist, Aaron Aerts, please call 604-684-5325.  For more information about CFIB, visit To interview Chief Economist, Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022.

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 B.C.

February 25, 2016

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