CFIB says 38% of province’s businesses struggling

by Morinville News Staff

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says Alberta small business confidence stuck in neutral, and that the Government’s first quarter fiscal update offers an opportunity to refine its budget plan.

The business association announced Aug. 25 that small business confidence dropped a point to 45.6 in August, according to the Federation’s monthly Business Barometer index. The CFIB says it had 609 of the province’s businesses respond to their most recent survey.

“Alberta small business confidence remains subdued,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta in a release Aug. 25. “The Alberta government can act to inject confidence into the business community by presenting a detailed plan to balance the books. Every quarter we sink deeper into debt is a missed opportunity to address the small business priority of tackling the ballooning debt and deficit.”

Although CFIB surveys show 20 per cent of Alberta business owners feel the general state of business health is good, 38 per cent are saying they are in bad shape. Struggling businesses increased four points over July of this year.

CFIB says the biggest challenge facing many of the province’s businesses is insufficient demand (68 per cent); however, 73 per cent of entrepreneurs list tax and regulatory costs as the primary cost constraint.

“When customers aren’t coming through the door, the last thing a business owner needs is a higher tax bill or more regulations to comply with,” Ruddy said. “Punitive carbon taxes, higher minimum wages, and new rules for farmers show this government is out of touch with the small business reality. Rejigging government priorities is not only expected; it is a responsible thing to do.”

CFIB stats are not good on the employment front with 27 per cent of business respondents saying they plan to cut back on staffing. Eleven per cent say they are planning to hire over the next quarter, a number comparable to what CFIB has seen in July.

Nationally, the Business Barometer index rose more than two points to 59.8 in August. The index is measured on a scale of 0 and 100, and the CFIB says an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. They regard index levels between 65 and 75 as an indicator the economy is growing at its potential.

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