Atlantic municipal report: which municipalities are small business friendly?

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s (CFIB) first Atlantic Municipal Report encourages the municipal governments of Atlantic Canada to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) thrive and continue to make our local communities vibrant places to live. This report challenges municipal governments across Atlantic Canada to establish policies that make it easier for business owners to do what they do best: run their business.

The contents of this report include fiscal responsibility, red tape reduction, and small business friendly policies in Atlantic municipalities. Scores have been assigned to municipalities for the purpose of tracking their progress and are not to be taken as official scores. This report is intended to serve as a benchmark for municipal governments to improve in the previously mentioned areas and learn from other municipalities. It also highlights notable initiatives that municipalities have undertaken to improve their business environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of small businesses and demonstrated that municipal governments can adapt quickly when necessary. For example, many municipalities made it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to operate outdoor patios when indoor dining capacity limits were in place. This report outlines issues business owners in Atlantic Canada are facing, provides recommendations for municipal governments, and highlights those that are fostering a small business friendly environment in their community.

Although good work has been done in many of these areas, small businesses have made it clear that municipalities across Atlantic Canada still have work to do. According to CFIB’s Atlantic Municipal Issues Survey (July 2023), 6 out of 10 Atlantic small business owners do not think their municipality prioritizes small business needs and issues (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1: Small businesses in Atlantic Canada believe municipal governments do not prioritize their needs

Question: “Indicate to which extent you agree: Our municipal government prioritizes small business needs and issues.”

32% agree, 59% disagree, 9% don't know or unsure

Source: CFIB, Atlantic Municipal Survey, July 2023, n=370.

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