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Confidence in Nova Scotia standing still

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Halifax, 29 June 2017– Optimism among Nova Scotia's small business owners remained constant in June; its Business Barometer Index of 63.5 kept close to last month's level. Short-term employment plans are relatively good, with 17 per cent looking to hire while 5 per cent planning to decrease full-time employment. About 48 per cent of business owners are reporting their firms are in good shape while 10 per cent say their firms are in bad shape.

Canadian small business optimism took a big tumble in June. CFIB's monthly Business Barometer Index dropped more than five points to land at 60.9 from May’s 66.0 reading. The source of this big shift, however, is almost entirely localized to the 10-point drop in Ontario’s index; business sentiment in every other province stayed close to their previous month’s levels.

Index levels often vary for purely statistical reasons, but downdraft in Ontario appears likely to be policy based—sweeping labour standards legislation announced in late May which appears to be adding considerable uncertainty over future operating conditions there. Ontario’s index is now at 58.0, the third-lowest in the country after Saskatchewan (51.8) and Newfoundland & Labrador (48.2)—both of which had seen slight improvements in June. Businesses in British Columbia are still the country’s most optimistic, posting an index of 69.5, while those in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba are close behind at 67.5 and 67.1 respectively. Sentiment in Quebec had a small gain to a respectable 65.8, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick indexes converged to the mid-63s. Alberta’s index held steady at 61.7 in June, after posting six-consecutive gains in previous surveys.

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 70 means the economy is growing at its potential.

June 2017 findings are based on 726 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through June 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.