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Nova Scotia continues to lead Canada in small business confidence

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Halifax, 31 March 2016– Nova Scotia’s Business Barometer® Index has seen a third consecutive decrease since December 2015, reaching 65.8 in March.  Despite the decrease, Nova Scotia businesses remain the most optimistic in the country. Full-time hiring intentions lost some ground and currently only 16 per cent of owners are planning to add staff versus only 6 per cent expecting to cut back.  Still, about 50 per cent of business owners say their businesses are in good shape— a very good indicator by national standards.

“Despite the slight reduction, Nova Scotia’s level of confidence from the small business sector has continued to outpace other provinces in Canada during challenging times within the national economy” said Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, Nova Scotia for CFIB. “The low Canadian dollar, low oil prices, and the positive state of business are the major factors contributing to Nova Scotia’s strong small business confidence index.” Langley added.

After a one-month pause, small business confidence across Canada resumed its downward track in March. CFIB's Business Barometer® Index fell another 2.4 points to land at 52.3—its lowest level since March 2009.

This month, the decline was widely spread, with indexes declining in 9 of 10 provinces and 9 of 13 industry sectors. Regionally, only British Columbia businesses registered an increase in sentiment, boosting their index to a modest 62.5. Optimism, however, remains higher in Nova Scotia and Quebec, where index levels are near the 65 mark, despite settling somewhat from February readings. Already hit hard by the oil price crunch, the Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador economies saw big downward adjustments to their index levels—each falling about 6 points to land near 47. Alberta lost only 0.2 points, but its index remains the weakest in the country by far at 26.5.

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.

March 2016 findings are based on 699 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through March 21. 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.