A woman uses her computer keyboard to type while surfing the internet in North Vancouver, B.C. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

BDC survey finds business confidence down, but companies still plan to invest

MONTREAL — A new survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada suggests trade disputes and a global slowdown have undermined small business confidence in the economy, but firms still plan to make investments in their businesses.

Despite the drop in confidence in the economy, Canadian entrepreneurs on balance are more upbeat about their own prospects and expect to see sales grow, the report says.

Companies on balance also expect to hire more workers over the next 12 months and overall investment plans have edged higher.

The report says Canadian business owners plan to increase investments in intangible assets such as technology, marketing initiatives, intellectual property and employee training-over the next 12 months.

However, they plan to scale back spending on real estate, machinery and equipment.

Regionally, business owners in the Prairies were among the most pessimistic, while those in Quebec were the most optimistic in Canada.

BDC chief economist Pierre Cleroux said Canadian entrepreneurs will keep investing in their companies despite international uncertainty and lower global growth.

“There’s reason to be optimistic: at the end of 2019, the United States, Mexico and Canada signed a new free trade agreement, reinstating favourable conditions for Canadian products and services,” Cleroux said in a statement.

The BDC survey gauges the level of confidence in the economy among businesses, their business outlook, as well as their investment plans for the next 12 months.

The report was based on a survey completed by 1,000 business owners from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, 2019.

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