The CEO Poll: Time to end the stimulus party

Business leaders say federal stimulus spending should be halted.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

Canadian business leaders are giving the federal government high marks for its handling of economic stimulus spending but say it’s time to turn off the spigot. It’s a view held by a large minority of CEOs, despite the fact they remain divided on whether the recession is over.

Perhaps reflecting the mixed signals being sent by an economy where equity markets are hot but other economic activity remains tepid, 30% of respondents to a recent COMPAS poll say additional stimulus spending should “probably not” be made.

Another large minority, 34%, say Canada is likely out of recession. But if the $61 billion the feds say has been spent is responsible for the rescue, one respondent says the victory is pyrrhic. “Currency appreciation wipes it all out. Canada cannot compete at parity.”

Another said, “I worry that we are writing promissory notes that will cost a lot down the road.”

On the whole, business leaders say that, given the global scope of the recession, the Conservatives have so far met the challenges of improving the economy and managing the deficit as wellas can be expected. Some dissenters charge that red tape has held up the expenditures; others dismiss the effort as waste and hype.

Among the more sanguine, the government’s Economic Action Plan receives its highest marks— 41% approval—for infrastructure spending (including home renovation support). Human nature being what it is, some believe it’s their sector being beggared at the expense of another, so it’s not surprising that there is notable grumbling. For example, one respondent wrote, “There is much too much attention being paid to consumerism and not enough to manufacturing and food production.”