Business Barometer®: BC Small businesses losing confidence in the province’s business conditions

Vancouver – Small business confidence fell steeply in September according to CFIB’s Business Barometer. Anxieties fueling the drop in confidence include labour shortages, supply chain challenges, and the impending end of federal support programs. The national three-month outlook dropped more than 12 points to 43.2, while the 12-month outlook lost more than 9 points and is now at 57.8, the biggest decreases since the start of the pandemic in March.  In BC, the drop is less than elsewhere in the country but still a significant caution on how small business are feeling in the province. The three-month outlook in BC dropped a whole 4 points to 54.9, while the 12-month outlook dropped 5 points to 66.7.

“It doesn’t take a crystal ball see why small businesses in BC are losing confidence,” said Seth Scott, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North, “employer paid sick days, labour shortages, and a plethora of high taxes, on top of an average of over $129,000 in covid related debt; costs keep piling on and independent businesses in the province are really feeling it”. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an essential role in the Canadian economy. They are responsible for over two-thirds of private sector employment and contribute more than half of Canada’s private sector gross domestic product (GDP).

“A healthy small business sector is critical to a healthy Canadian economy, and small businesses are still far from healthy. Governments need to be very focused on a soft landing out of this mess. That includes doing everything possible to avoid increasing business costs, and continuing pandemic support for the hardest-hit small firms,” added Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

Wage and rent relief programs are currently set to expire in less than a month, despite only 46 per cent of BC businesses being back to normal sales levels.

Some provinces and industries hit harder

All provinces registered significant drops in optimism on both the long- and short-term indexes. On the sectoral side, professional services (-15 points), hospitality (-11 points), and construction (-9 points) experienced the biggest short-term drops, while agriculture (-11 points) and retail (-10 points) saw the greatest long-term decreases.

September findings are based on 894 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from September 7 to 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.3 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Seth Scott, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 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