Late last month, Statistics Canada released data on active businesses in Canada, and I thought I’d go through it to see how Alberta fared.
The most recent data is April 2023, so keep that in mind.
First, here’s the number of active businesses in each province, as of April 2023.
Alberta came in fourth place, which shouldn’t be that surprising given that it has the fourth highest population as well.
Now, let’s look at how that number compares to the past. First, over the previous month.
|Mar 2023||Apr 2023||Change||% change|
Between March and April, nearly every province saw a gain in the total number of active businesses. Alberta saw the third largest increase in active businesses in the country. The province’s active businesses increased by 94, from 118,918 to 119,012.
Ontario, which was at the top of the list, saw 553 more active businesses this past April than they did the month before. British Columbia, with a loss of 531, was the worst performing province in the country.
On a percentage basis, Alberta had the smallest gain, ahead of only Manitoba and BC, both of which saw losses.
Now let’s take a look at how things changed in each province over the past year.
|Apr 2022||Apr 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta gained over 600 active businesses over the past 12 months, the third largest increase the country. Ontario topped the list, with over 3,200 more active businesses. Québec was in second place, with 661 more businesses.
BC was the only province to see its number of active businesses drop over the last year.
Since April 2022, the number of active businesses in Alberta increased 0.53%, the fourth largest increase among all provinces.
The story worsens the further back we go. Take a look at the last two years, for example.
|Apr 2021||Apr 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta’s increase of roughly 2,250 active businesses over the last 2 years keeps it in 4th place; however, they drop to 8th place on a percentage basis (1.93%).
As well, the 3 provinces with total increases larger than Alberta’s actually saw much larger increases. BC, which was in third place, had almost double the increase as Alberta, Québec was more than triple, and Ontario’s increase was more than 9 times larger than what Alberta saw.
It’s pretty much the same for 3 years.
|Apr 2020||Apr 2023||Change||% change|
April 2020 was 10 months after Alberta’s UCP government implemented their so-called Job Creation Tax Cut. When they implemented it, they claimed it would lead to tens of thousands of more jobs being created.
However, what we see is that in the last 3 years, Alberta was still in fourth place spot.
The largest increase was seen in Ontario, which has nearly 50,000 more active businesses than they did in April 2020.
On a percentage basis, Alberta’s gain of 9.45% of its active businesses over the last 3 years, however, was the third worst increase, on a percentage basis. Only Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador saw a lower percentage increase than Alberta.
Finally, here’s how things looked compared to April 2019, the month the UCP won the provincial election.
|Apr 2019||Apr 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta had the worst performance of all the provinces in Canada, losing over 1,000 active businesses. Newfoundland and Labrador was the only other province that saw a decrease, but it was fewer than 800.
Ontario saw the largest increase in total active businesses since February 2019, increasing by nearly 11,000.
On a percentage basis, Alberta was in second last place, ahead of only Newfoundland and Labrador.
Here’s another look at the numbers over the last 4 years.
You can see the huge drop in active businesses in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another thing this chart clearly shows is that any growth in active businesses that have occurred during the UCP administration has been entirely recovery growth.
After all, even though the 119,012 active businesses we saw in April 2023, is the highest it’s been since the pandemic began, it’s still lower than where it sat when the UCP took power.
In April 2019, the month the UCP won the provincial election, Alberta had 120,054 active businesses, and the following month, it rose to 120,137, the highest number seen in the last 4 years. That’s still nearly 1,100 more businesses than we saw this past April.
Plus, the number of active businesses was already declining for months before the pandemic-fuelled recession kicked in. Between April 2019 and February 2020, Alberta had gone from 120,054 active businesses to 118,480.
So, although the pandemic played a huge role in the massive drop we saw during the UCP’s first year or so in power, it wasn’t the only factor.
Even so, the fact that Alberta has seen the worst loss (second worst if you look at percentage) in active businesses in the country is notable, given that the UCP implemented the Job Creation Tax Cut just 3 months after April 2019.
When the UCP announced that they’d cut the tax on corporate profits, they promised that it would result in more jobs, that it would encourage companies to move here.
But if other provinces with much larger corporate profit tax rates are seeing larger gains than we are, can we really say that the tax cut accomplished what they promised us it would?