Small business confidence improved slightly in Alberta in February but remains the lowest in Canada, according to the Business Barometer Index by Canadian Federation of Independent Business released on Thursday.
The CFIB said the index bounced back a bit after big drops in the previous two months.
“Despite a bit of a bounce in February, we still see Alberta’s small business confidence index trailing every other province by a wide margin,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB vice-president for Alberta and B.C., in a statement.
“Albertan entrepreneurs are facing a long list of operating challenges, ever-increasing taxes, and growing regulations and red tape from government, all within the context of a struggling economy.”
Small business confidence gained 2.8 points in February to reach 40.3, but continues to lag behind the national average (59.0) by 18.7 points this month, and remains approximately 25 points below the 65 to 75 point range (on the 100 point scale), which indicates a healthy and growing economy, said the CFIB.
It said taxes and regulatory costs are continuing to be the biggest challenge business owners face this year, with 77 per cent identifying it as the most difficult input cost.
“The percentage of entrepreneurs describing the state of their business as ‘good’ dipped a point to 14 per cent in February. This compares to 55 per cent who characterize it as ‘satisfactory,’ the same as the previous month, and 30 per cent who describe it as ‘bad’, down a point,” said the organization.
“One-third of business owners (33 per cent) are expecting to cut back on full-time staff over the next three to four months, compared to 58 per cent who expect employment levels to remain the same, and nine per cent who expect it to rise.”
Provincial scores were: Nova Scotia (66.3), Quebec (64.8), Ontario (64.1), Prince Edward Island (60.6), British Columbia (55.4), Saskatchewan (55.2), New Brunswick (54.2), Manitoba (52.6), Newfoundland and Labrador (47.7), Alberta (40.3).
The CFIB has 10,000 Alberta members.
– Mario Toneguzzi