A summary of interviews conducted by the Bank's regional offices with the senior management of about 100 firms, selected in accordance with the composition of Canada's gross domestic product.
The survey's purpose is to gather the perspectives of these businesses on topics of interest to the Bank of Canada (such as demand and capacity pressures) and their forward-looking views on economic activity.
Note: The opinions expressed are those of the respondents, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Bank of Canada. The method of sample selection ensures a good cross-section of opinion. Nevertheless, the statistical reliability of the survey is limited, given the small sample size.
Results from the autumn Business Outlook Survey point to continued positive business sentiment across the country, with business activity becoming entrenched. Firms’ prospects remain healthy, although several survey indicators have moderated from the strong summer results.
Responses to the summer Business Outlook Survey suggest that business activity is continuing to gain momentum, buoyed by indications that domestic demand will improve further. Positive business prospects are increasingly widespread across regions and sectors.
The results of the spring Business Outlook Survey reflect signs of a further strengthening of domestic demand following overall subdued activity over the past two years. This outlook is supported by foreign demand and an expected rebound in activity in energy-producing regions.
The results of the winter Business Outlook Survey indicate that business prospects have improved following two years of overall modest activity. The responses reflect building domestic demand, a supportive export outlook and an expected recovery in energy-related activity.
The autumn Business Outlook Survey provides some signs of improving business prospects, as resource-related activity appears to be gradually bottoming out and foreign demand is providing steady support to firms’ sales expectations.
The summer Business Outlook Survey indicates that overall business sentiment is subdued. The boost from foreign demand remains insufficient to outweigh the continued drag from commodity-related activity combined with modest domestic demand.
Business sentiment in the spring Business Outlook Survey improved but remains subdued overall. The positive impetus coming from sustained foreign demand continues to be largely offset by the persistent drag and spillovers from the oil price shock.
Overall, responses to the winter Business Outlook Survey indicate that business sentiment has deteriorated as the negative effects of the commodity price shock continue to unfold and spread beyond the resource sector. However, exporters not directly affected by lower commodity prices continue to benefit from strong U.S. demand and the weak Canadian dollar.
The autumn Business Outlook Survey shows that firms’ expectations continue to diverge as they gradually adjust to an environment of weaker commodity prices and a lower Canadian dollar. The overall sales and investment outlook improved, owing in part to continued support from U.S. demand. However, business sentiment remains weak for firms directly and indirectly tied to the resource sector.
The summer Business Outlook Survey points to a diverging outlook across regions. While there are some encouraging signs, owing in part to strengthening U.S. demand, weak oil prices continue to significantly dampen economic perspectives in affected sectors and regions.