CFIB Business Barometer ® National small business confidence downshifts

Toronto, May 5, 2010 � After having roared out of the gates for the first quarter of 2010, confidence among Canada�s small and medium-sized businesses fell back in April, suggesting that the torrid pace of overall economic growth seen last winter is beginning to cool to more sustainable rates. According to the latest business confidence survey findings from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the Business Barometer® index dropped to 66.4 from its March level of 69.9.

“Optimism has fallen in 8 of 13 industry groups, including the bellwether sectors of manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade,” explained CFIB vice-president and chief economist, Ted Mallett, adding that “many consumer-driven businesses in Ontario and British Columbia are bracing for the looming harmonization of sales taxes in those provinces on Canada Day, and Nova Scotia businesses will be seeing a two-point rate increase in the HST rates they have to charge.”

Overall, business owners in Saskatchewan are the most optimistic in Canada, with an index score of 74.4. Those in Newfoundland and Labrador are next at 71.9, followed closely by business owners in British Columbia and Alberta (71.1 and 70.8 respectively).

At the other end of the scale, Manitobans and Quebec entrepreneurs have seen their expectations cool the most, now showing index levels near 62. Sentiment among business owners in Ontario and the Maritimes are near the national average.

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses� performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing. The April 2010 findings are based on 953 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.

About CFIB

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses. Encouraging the development of good public policy at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, CFIB represents more than 105,000 business owners, who collectively employ 1.25 million Canadians and account for $75 billion in GDP.