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Business Barometer: BC small business optimism continues upward trend

Index reaches year-long high, but big challenges may lie ahead following announcement of new payroll tax in this week’s BC budget

VANCOUVER, February 22, 2018 – The latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) show British Columbia’s small business optimism increased 2.8 points in February to reach a level of 69.5. 

The February results confirm the continual climb in confidence among BC’s entrepreneurs, marking the third consecutive monthly increase.  BC’s business optimism now registers as the third highest in the country and holds a 7.1 point lead over the national index (62.4). 

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 index is at the highest point it has been in the past year, showing business owners are looking at the future with optimism,” said Aaron Aerts, Western Economist. “That being said, the BC government needs to ensure they are creating a positive environment for entrepreneurs. If the trade dispute with Alberta is not settled quickly or gets worse, or BC businesses react negatively to the government’s plans for a new payroll tax that was announced in this week’s provincial budget, optimism could erode quickly.” 

To view the full report, please visit 

BC hiring intentions remained relatively flat in February. Twenty-seven per cent of small business owners plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, the same as in January. In contrast, nine per cent are looking to cut back, a one point increase from last month.

Fifty-four per cent of entrepreneurs believe the general state of health of their business is good, representing a one point increase from January. This compares to nine per cent of BC business owners who describe their business’ health as poor, which has remained at the same level for four months.

The national Business Barometer index in February was 62.4, down 0.3 points from January. The provincial numbers were: Quebec (73.9), Nova Scotia (72.0), BC (69.5), PEI (65.0), Manitoba (63.2), New Brunswick (59.1), Ontario (59.0), Saskatchewan (56.8), Newfoundland (56.5) and Alberta (56.2).  The February 2018 findings are based on 659 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflects responses received through to February 12. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Aaron Aerts about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325 or email [email protected] 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 is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C.

February 22, 2018

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