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Small business confidence sees small rebound in March

BC index up two spots to regain position as third highest in Canada

VANCOUVER, March 31, 2016 – According to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), BC’s small business optimism increased 1.4 points in March to 62.5. 

In a reversal from last month, BC small business confidence climbed while the overall Canadian index fell. The change in optimism widened BC’s margin over the national index (52.3) to 10.2 points, the highest in four months. BC’s small confidence gain in March came after three consecutive declines, reclaiming a position in the top three in Canada. BC trails only Nova Scotia (65.8) and Quebec (65.0). At the bottom of the list was Alberta, where confidence declined to 26.5, another historic low.

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 gain in small business confidence in BC for March brings it a bit closer to a healthy level. While confidence is down compared to this time last year, at least some of that trend is to be expected with a weakened Canadian economy. Indeed, BC small business owners appear to be resilient in spite of economic woes in other parts of the country”, says Aaron Aerts, CFIB economist in BC.

To view the full report, please visit: Business Barometer

The decline in the Canadian dollar continues to be a major input cost concern for many small businesses in BC. Forty-three per cent in March identify foreign currency as being a major input cost constraint, up 5 points from last month and 12 points from March last year.

Hiring intentions remain relatively buoyant, with 27 per cent of business owners in March saying they plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, down a point from last month. That compares to 8 per cent expecting to cut back, also down a point from last month.

Forty-seven per cent of entrepreneurs in March believe the general state of health of their business was good, versus 11 per cent who describe it as poor.

The national Business Barometer index decreased 2.4 points in March to 52.3. The provincial numbers were: Nova Scotia (65.8), Quebec (65.0), PEI (59.1), Ontario (57.0), Manitoba (54.8), New Brunswick (53.2), Newfoundland & Labrador (47.1), Saskatchewan (47.0), and Alberta (26.5).

The 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 to March 21 which was prior to the tabling of the federal budget. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with BC Economist, Aaron Aerts, about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325.  To interview Chief Economist, Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022. For more information about CFIB, visit

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C.

March 31, 2016

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