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Sept 28, 2023

Canadian small business expectation plummets

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) Business Barometer long-term index, which is based on 12-month forward expectations for business performance, plummeted six points to 48.7, the lowest reading since the pandemic. The short-term optimism index, based on a 3-month outlook, lost two points, and settled at 45.5, also the lowest point for this indicator in 2023.  

Overall, long-term optimism in most provinces tumbled a few points. British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador were the exceptions to this trend – their indexes gained over two points in each province. Confidence in central Canada is at the bottom of the scale with levels of 49.8 in Quebec and 48.9 in Ontario. Moreover, short term confidence in both dove to levels below all other provinces (Quebec 47.6 and Ontario 43.9).  '

The long-term index also dropped in most sectors in September. Wholesale, retail, and agriculture registered very low optimism levels, all sitting below 50. All services sectors are doing relatively better, being at the top of confidence scale with index levels ranging from mid-60s to mid-50s.   

The sharpest increase in major cost constraints was seen in borrowing costs which reached a new peak affecting 51% of small businesses. This share is now more than double the historical average of 22%.

Similarly, more firms than ever are complaining about shortage of working capital (36% compared to the historical average of 22%).  

Average price and wage increase plans for the next 12 months registered a small uptick in September, sitting at 3.2% and 2.6%, respectively. 

As for theCanada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), four out of five small businesses found recent CEBA changes unhelpful, with 87% in need of an extension of the forgivable deadline to end of 2024.  

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