New survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveal dramatic differences in how confident small businesses are that their provincial governments have a vision to support entrepreneurship and small business.
Respondents in Saskatchewan were by far the most confident that their provincial government has a vision that supports entrepreneurship and small business (72 per cent). The other “new west” provinces of British Columbia and Alberta ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively in terms of confidence with 48 and 40 per cent. Quebec and Manitoba (tied for last in the rankings), had only eight per cent of respondents expressing confidence in their government’s vision to create a small businesses friendly climate.
In the middle of the pack, Newfoundland and Labrador was 4th (27 per cent); Prince Edward Island 5th (21 per cent); New Brunswick 6th (19 per cent); Ontario 7th (15 per cent); and Nova Scotia 8th (12 per cent). It should be noted that the survey was conducted before the recent Nova Scotia election.
Although the Alberta Government had a relatively good showing in the survey, it’s a different story for Premier Redford. Only 8 per cent of entrepreneurs surveyed said she understands the realities of running a small business.
“Alberta has been resting on its laurels for too long. It’s time for the Premier to take a more active role in the issues that impact small business,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB’s Alberta Director.
“She often talks about the importance of entrepreneurship, but too often that talk doesn’t translate into action. The impending unveiling of a provincial small business strategy is a promising initiative that we sincerely hope receives more attention from Alberta’s top political leader.”
Results on the question of vision correlate closely with whether respondents would recommend starting a business in their province. On this question again, Saskatchewan ranked first, Alberta placed second and Manitoba finished last. The report also ranked provincial governments in specific policy areas like taxation, red tape and labour laws. Overall, 44 per cent of small business owners would recommend starting a business in their provinces.
“Everyone should be worried about these less-than-stellar results. When small business thrives, so too does the middle class. Creating the conditions for small business success should be a top priority in Alberta,” said Truscott.
CFIB intends to make this an annual report that policymakers can use as a benchmark. With budget season in full swing across the country, this report provides provinces with a perfect opportunity to respond quickly to the concerns of entrepreneurs.
The key recommendations to provincial governments from this year’s report are to focus on keeping taxes reasonable, controlling government spending, reducing red tape, balancing labour laws and balancing budgets.