05 Mar 2018

Fourth Atlantic Canada Business Confidence Index Results

HALIFAX, March 1, 2018: Results of the fourth Atlantic Canada Business Confidence Index (BCI), sponsored by TD, reveal that overall business confidence in Atlantic Canada has changed little over the past eight months, with stable levels seen in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, a notable increase in PEI and dropping confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador, in line with consumer confidence in the region.

“Results are reflective of what we’re seeing around the region’s economies, and it’s important to continue to hear the views of business leaders in Atlantic Canada,” said Rob Lindstrand, Vice President, TD Commercial Banking, Atlantic Region.

Results show that business leaders are more optimistic towards the current and upcoming economic well-being of their own company than with the state of the provincial economy in general. In fact, confidence in the economic future of the region has declined and it continues to be relatively weak, and businesses do not strongly believe that the state of the economy in Atlantic Canada today has improved, let alone changed, from one year ago, despite small growth in real GDP across all four provinces this past year.

“The relative stability in business confidence in Atlantic Canada belies the considerable variability in confidence by province; with business confidence highest in Prince Edward Island and lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador, mirroring current economic conditions in each of these provinces,” commented Don Mills, Chairman and CEO of CRA.

Despite these views regarding the economies of the Atlantic provinces, companies reported revenue growth in the past year and believe it will continue to increase in the coming year, along with capital expenditures, with the exception of those in Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite reported and forecasted revenue growth, most businesses have not changed their staffing levels in the past year and do not intend to do so in the coming year. Employee wage increases were common in 2017, though they are forecasted to be more modest in 2018. With the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, wage increases were reported by employers to be higher than the inflation.

Atlantic Canadian businesses are again seen as being most challenged by the escalating cost of doing business and a lack of government leadership. Business leaders express a desire for reduced taxes, the continued support of small and local businesses, and leaner, more effective governments that could take a greater leadership role in fostering a more favourable business climate in the region. At the same time, business leaders continue to believe that the private sector is not doing enough to create confidence in the region, with increased collaboration with governments and within the private sector and the support of small or local businesses being the most commonly suggestion actions.

Looking at the region’s workforce, Atlantic Canada continues to show slow population growth and aging residents, more so than other provinces in the country. At the same time, the region is challenged by high unemployment levels that are well above the national average.

Methodology: This survey represents the fourth iteration of the study. Sponsored by TD, the Atlantic Canada Business Confidence Index is conducted online with business leaders across Atlantic Canada, including representation of companies from all major sectors of the economy and all sizes of organization. In total, 501 surveys were completed between January 22 and February 11, 2018. A full results presentation will take place in the coming weeks.

Corporate Research Associates (CRA), www.cra.ca, is one of Canada’s leading public opinion and market research companies. Founded in 1978, CRA is dedicated to providing clients with state-of-the-art research and strategic consulting services. CRA is a Certified Gold Seal Member of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA), which sets stringent standards as a condition of membership, and enforces those standards through independent audits. Follow us on Twitter @CRAInsight.

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For more information or a copy of the report, please contact:

Don Mills, Chairman and CEO, Corporate Research Associates, 902 493 3838 or dmills@cra.ca
Margaret Chapman, Vice President, Corporate Research Associates, 902 493 3834 or mchapman@cra.ca

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CRA