Canadian Contractor

By CFIB   

Ontario’s small business confidence plummets in April: CFIB

Canadian Contractor

Ontario’s long-term business confidence level for the next 12 months dropped a disturbing 6.7 points since March to 49.2, according to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer® index. This score places Ontario in a tie with Quebec for the third lowest long-term business confidence level in the country after Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Ontario’s short-term business confidence level for the next three months also decreased, dropping 1.6 points since March to 48.4, the second lowest score in the country after Saskatchewan.

“Rising costs on everything are making it almost impossible for small businesses to achieve any meaningful headway on recovery,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s vice president of legislative affairs for Ontario. “Sadly, far too many CFIB members who’ve been around for years are feeling that running a business is becoming all pain and no gain.”

Tracked against GDP, CFIB’s Business Barometer® closely reflects the state of the economy. Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means that owners expecting their business performance to be stronger over the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past (pre-pandemic) results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing.

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According to the April Business Barometer®, for the eighth consecutive month, insufficient demand rated as the top limitation in Ontario on sales or production growth. Over half (57%) of Ontario’s small- and medium-sized businesses reported insufficient demand (domestic or foreign), the highest share since the pandemic.

“With demand for both goods and services consistently low, it’s still a challenge for many small businesses to get back to their normal revenue level for this time of year,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “The minute small businesses get an inch ahead, they’re hit with even more increased costs, forcing some to pass down at least a portion of these extra costs to customers.”

April Business Barometer® also reveals that insurance costs and fuel costs tied as the top reported cost constraint for Ontario small business owners, followed by wage costs and tax/regulatory costs. High insurance costs are causing difficulties for 70% of Ontario businesses, the highest point in decades and way above their historical average of 51%.

“Small businesses need cost relief now,” said Kwiecinski. “We continue to urge the Ontario government to focus on small business affordability measures, including lowering the Small Business Tax Rate (SBTR) and increasing the SBTR’s threshold that has been stuck at $500,000 since 2007.”

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