The BC economy is now performing below its potential after small business optimism fell 4.5 points last month to 61.4.
Despite the decline, the province is the fourth-most optimistic in the country only behind Quebec (68.7), Nova Scotia (67.9), and PEI (65.3).
It seems small business owners have had a lot to worry about in recent weeks, which isn’t helping the confidence level.
“Things like the rising carbon tax, things like the rising minimum wage, definitely the pipeline battle and of course the Employer Health Tax that is coming as of January 1st – there is a lot that’s going on concerning business owners and I think we’re starting to see that reflected in these numbers,” says Richard Truscott, BC Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.”
“Now we are dropping below our potential and this is a very dangerous trajectory to be on and hopefully things will rebound in May and June and potentially into the summer.”
When we dissect how this negatively impacts entrepreneurs in Prince George/Northern BC region, Truscott says all you have to do is look beyond the index.
“Some of the softest confidence levels are in the north, the interior and the parts of the province that rely on resource development to help keep the engine of the economy going – it’s eventually going to flow into other people who are being hired by small business and it’s going to affect the health of those small businesses ultimately.”
It’s been less than a year since we have seen the change in power in the political sector of BC as the NDP overtook the long-standing BC Liberals last spring.
Since the change, the John Horgan led province has made too many changes too quickly leading to a lot of anxiety for businesses.
“Small business owners are certainly concerned that the government is moving in a hurried up fashion and will be making mistakes. If you look at the payroll tax proposal they have on the table right now, it’s pretty clear that it’s highly flawed, it’s rushed and that is not good for the province and its certainly not good for entrepreneurs – we need to create public policy that makes sense that is done in a thoughtful, reasonable way,” added Truscott.
As for what the CFIB wants to see from the province in the months ahead, the message is pretty crystal clear.
“Hopefully we’ll see governments back off on some of these very aggressive policies and let businesses owners adjust and if they are going to pursue these aggressive new policies then give business owners time to adjust to the new reality and there’s a lot that’s hitting business owners all at once both from the province and also from the feds.”
Twenty-three percent of small business owners in BC plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months while 46% believe the health of their business is in good shape.