The national 12-month outlook lost more than nine points. (File photo/Lakes District News)

The national 12-month outlook lost more than nine points. (File photo/Lakes District News)

Provincial business barometer

B.C. Small businesses losing confidence in the province’s business conditions

Contributed by The Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Small business confidence fell steeply in September according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) Business Barometer. Anxieties fueling the drop in confidence include labour shortages, supply chain challenges, and the impending end of federal support programs.

The national three-month outlook dropped more than 12 points to 43.2, while the 12-month outlook lost more than nine points and is now at 57.8, the biggest decreases since the start of the pandemic in March. In B.C., the drop is less than elsewhere in the country, but still a significant caution on how small business are feeling in the province. The three-month outlook in B.C. dropped a whole 4 points to 54.9, while the 12-month outlook dropped 5 points to 66.7.

“It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see why small businesses in B.C. are losing confidence,” said Seth Scott, senior policy analyst, B.C. and the North , “employer paid sick days, labour shortages, and a plethora of high taxes, on top of an average of over $129,000 in covid related debt; costs keep piling on and independent businesses in the province are really feeling it”.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an essential role in the Canadian economy. They are responsible for over two-thirds of private sector employment and contribute more than half of Canada’s private sector gross domestic product

“A healthy small business sector is critical to a healthy Canadian economy, and small businesses are still far from healthy. Governments need to be very focused on a soft landing out of this mess. That includes doing everything possible to avoid increasing business costs, and continuing pandemic support for the hardest-hit small firms,” added Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB.

Wage and rent relief programs are currently set to expire in less than a month, despite only 46 per cent of B.C. businesses being back to normal sales levels.