BC small business optimism static in February

VANCOUVER, February 27, 2020 – The monthly Business Barometer® index for British Columbia moved 0.2 points down reaching an index of 56.2 in February, according to the latest survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The BC small business confidence index sits 4.3 points below the Canadian average (60.5).

The majority of responses were collected before Budget 2020: A Balanced Plan to Keep BC Moving Forward was announced on February 18, and results therefor may not be reflective of the Budget’s address. Many small businesses are still recovering from cost burdens brought on by previous budgets, and unfortunately saw little relief offered in the provincial government’s agenda for this year. The Budget also shows a concerning outlook for business growth given 2019 outcomes, which includes weakened consumer spending (increasing just 1.1 per cent between 2018 and 2019), a slowing of exports (down 6.4 per cent), and plateaued retail sales (rising 0.5 per cent).

“Despite entrepreneurial confidence staying somewhat static in February, small business owners continue to face many challenges. The Employer Health Tax was a $1.8 billion hit on small business last year, and even more have started paying it now,” says Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North. “Business owners are also faced with weakened consumer spending, meaning less customers coming through their doors, making it even harder for small business owners to afford new taxes and higher costs,” adds Protzer.

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 that the economy is growing at its potential.

The provincial numbers for February were: Quebec (68.3), Ontario (64.4), New Brunswick (61.6), Nova Scotia (59.7), PEI (58.3), British Columbia (56.2), Manitoba (55.1), Newfoundland and Labrador (48.6), Saskatchewan (47.6), and Alberta (39.6).  

February 2020 findings are based on 839 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from February 3rd to the 17th. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst, about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325 or email msbc@cfib.ca after 8:30 AM PT. To interview Chief Economist, Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022. For more information, visit cfib.ca.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.