Optimism and pessimism about the economy are running neck and neck, according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Optimism about the Canadian economy over the next 12 months is at 28 per cent among professional accountants in leadership positions surveyed for the CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q3 2019).  Meanwhile, another 28 per cent of those surveyed reported feeling pessimistic. The largest group took no position, with 44 per cent reporting neither optimism nor pessimism.

Optimism among the business leaders is down from the second quarter of the year when it was at 31 per cent, while pessimism is up from 24 per cent.

The field work for the survey was carried out shortly after the recent federal election. Worth noting is that 10 per cent of the Canadian business leaders surveyed cited having a minority government as the top challenge to economic growth in this country.

However, a minority government only rates fifth on the list of worries, trailing general uncertainty around the Canadian economy (15 per cent), U.S. protectionism, the state of the U.S. economy and the lack of skilled workers (all three tied at 11 per cent).

“It makes sense for Canadian business leaders to be taking a wait and see approach,” says Joy Thomas, president and CEO, CPA Canada. “So much is in play when you consider there is a minority government in Canada along with the potential for economic surprises whether they be stateside or overseas, especially when it comes to trade.”

Company-specific findings included amost half of those surveyed (48 per cent) are optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, with 18 per cent being pessimistic and 33 per cent neutral. When assessing the next year, 66 per cent are predicting their businesses will see increased revenues, 59 per cent are foreseeing increased profits and 45 per cent anticipate an increase in employee numbers.

The CPA Canada Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by CPA Canada and conducted by Nielsen. The report draws upon business insights of professional accountants in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies.

For the Q3 2019 study, emailed surveys were completed by 386 of 3,903 people identified by CPA Canada as holding senior positions in industry (CFOs, CEOs, COOs and other leadership roles). The response rate was 13.7 per cent, with a margin of error associated with this type of study ±4.9 per cent, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. Further information regarding response rate calculations can be found in the survey’s background document. The survey was conducted from October 31 to November 17, 2019, later than the typical CPA Canada Q3 Business Monitor Survey to gather information in the post-federal election period.

The survey background document is available online at cpacanada.ca/businessmonitorQ32019.