MONCTON –There has been a sharp increase in confidence among those in the business community across the region according to the latest wave of the Atlantic Canada Business Confidence Index (BCI), commissioned by TD Bank Group and conducted by Corporate Research Associates (CRA).
After the initial results of the Index were compiled in mid-2016, there was a 6.8-point spike in confidence with business leaders in Atlantic Canada citing increased expectations for revenue growth in the coming year and greater intentions to hire new employees.
Comparing results across provinces, Nova Scotia businesses now have the highest confidence score (118.5), followed closely by PEI (116.1) and New Brunswick (113.6), while confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador trails (81.5), despite having increased notably in the last six months (up 10.4 points). Confidence in New Brunswick also grew significantly this wave (up 9.8 points).
“It’s encouraging to see business confidence increase, given the challenges in the economy over the last few years. This will hopefully lead to more investment and job creation in the coming year,” said Don Mills, chairman and CEO of Corporate Research Associates, in a release.
CRA says businesses in the region continue to be much more optimistic regarding the prospects for their own companies compared to the prospects for the economy overall, where cautiousness is still evident. When asked about challenges, businesses identified several issues including government and politics, high taxes, lack of population growth and lack of qualified employees. Reducing taxes and providing more support for small or local businesses were the two most common suggestions from survey participants for improving the business climate in Atlantic Canada.
These results show that while business leaders continue to believe that more can be done to create a positive business environment in Atlantic Canada, they also acknowledge that the business community itself could do more to achieve this goal. Increased collaboration with government and with other businesses continues to be identified most frequently as the primary means for creating a positive business environment in the region.
Despite weak revenue growth that continues to plague the private sector, there was also some evidence of modest hiring intentions and wage increases in the private sector for the coming year. CRA says these intentions are likely driven by expectations of revenue growth in some sectors, but that only about half of the businesses polled expect such growth in their revenues in the coming year.