Business Expectations Index key outlook findings

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Business Data Lab has released its Q2 Canadian Survey on Business Conditions Report.

With the Bank of Canada kicking off the monetary policy easing cycle among G7 countries, we may be seeing the first green shoots of business optimism in Canada. The BDL’s Business Expectations Index moved into positive territory for the first time in a year, hitting 101.8 in the second quarter of 2024, driven by a brighter outlook for sales. Encouragingly, businesses are still looking to hire in the coming quarter, as the labour market comes into better balance between supply and demand.

Key takeaways

  • Atlantic Canada and Quebec lead business optimism, Halifax tops city rankings
  • Central Canada lags behind in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario; Toronto and Regina struggle
  • Micro firms (1-4 employees) are stabilizing after years of challenges; larger firms more optimistic
  • Cost-related pressures remain widespread
  • Rates coming down means financing concerns are easing, micro firms still grapple with debt 
  • Labor challenges up; issues are leading to longer work hours and slower business growth
  • Summer could bring disruptive labour disputes (rail, ports, borders), impacted firms expect supply chain obstacles to worsen

For those interested in diving into the numbers, the latest Business Expectations Index allows users to gauge sentiment trends for over 70 business concepts. You can explore  results by geography (including for Canada’s 20 largest cities), industry, ownership, firm size, age, trade status and more. Launch the interactive Survey Insights Generator to customize results and download our data to use in your analysis and outputs.

Stephen Tapp is the Chief Economist for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.


The Canadian Chamber’s Business Data lab was established in 2022 with financial support from the Government of Canada. Working in collaboration with Statistics Canada the BDL’s goal is to advance how we understand Canadian businesses by providing real-time and future-focused insights for companies of every size, sector and region of the country. The BDL’s work is under the direction of the Canadian Chamber’s Chief Economist, Stephen Tapp.