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Confidence among Canadian small business owners improves: BMO fall survey

TORONTO – The Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) says optimism is increasing among small business owners across Canada.

In its semi-annual Small Business Confidence Report released Monday, the bank said that 62 per cent of respondents surveyed felt 2014 would be a better year than 2013.

While 55 per cent of respondents indicated they expected their business to grow next year, compared with only six per cent who expected their business to shrink.

Overall, the bank’s small business confidence index stood at 70 this fall, compared with 63 in the fall of 2012 and 59 last spring.

Confidence was highest in British Columbia and Alberta, where the index stood at 74 and 73 respectively. The confidence index stood at 70 in both Ontario and Quebec and at 68 in Atlantic Canada.

BMO said results of the study were compiled from a Pollara telephone survey of 301 Canadian business owners between Aug. 22 and Sept. 10. The survey has a claimed margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The study also found that, overall, 31 per cent of respondents planned to invest more in their business this year.

Among that group, 76 per cent planned to upgrade equipment, while 46 per cent planned to hire more employees and 45 per cent planned to upgrade technology and systems.

“Our semi-annual checkup is showing that business owners in Canada are in good health and are more optimistic than before,” said Steve Murphy, senior vice-president, commercial banking.

“Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the outlook for business next year is consistent across the country, so entrepreneurs are feeling supported and encouraged regardless of where they’re located.”