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Nova Scotia continues to lead Canada in small business confidence

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Halifax, 28 January 2016–Nova Scotia’s Business Barometer index suffered a two-point downward correction since December 2015 and reached 69.0 in January—but it remains the country’s most optimistic region by far. Full-time hiring intentions are still going strong, with 26 per cent planning to add staff versus only 7 per cent expecting to cut back. About one-in-two business owners say their businesses are in good shape— a very good indicator by national standards.

“According to our Monthly Business Barometer®, Nova Scotia’s level of confidence from the small business sector has trended upwards since the spring of 2015 and continues to be the highest in the country for a second consecutive month,” said Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, Nova Scotia for CFIB. “The low Canadian dollar, low oil prices, positive hiring intentions, and the positive state of business are the major factors contributing to Nova Scotia’s strong small business confidence index.” Langley added.

Nationally, the almost steady decline in small business optimism seen through 2015 has stayed on trend for the first month of 2016. The Business Barometer® Index reached a new post-recession low of 54.3 in January—about 10 points below the level associated with normal economic growth. 

Nova Scotia businesses continue to lead the country in optimism, but an index level of 69.0 is off a couple of points from December. On the other side of the country, Alberta's index declined yet again, and at 28.8 points, plumbed depths so far uncharted by the Barometer. Ontario's index also dropped to 58.4—second lowest in the country. Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island businesses were not much higher, at 58.7 and 60.3 respectively. Business owners in the remaining provinces showed only modest levels of optimism—with index levels ranging in the low 60s.

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. 

January 2016 findings are based on 712 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Nicholas Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 902-420-1997 or Ted Mallett, Chief Economist and Vice-president at 416-222-8022.

Business Barometer is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark.