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 December 2022, so keep that in mind.
First, here’s the number of active businesses in each province, as of December 2022.
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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.
|Nov 2022||Dec 2022||Change||% change|
Between November and December 2022, every province saw a loss in the total number of active businesses. Alberta, however, saw the third largest decrease in active businesses in the country. The province’s active businesses decreased by 272, from 118,140 to 117,868.
Ontario, which was at the bottom of the list, saw 657 fewer active businesses this past December than they did the month before. Manitoba and Nova Scotia, tied with a loss of 27, were the best performing provinces in the country.
On the other hand, on a percentage basis, Alberta had the fifth smallest loss, behind only manitoba, Québec, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.
Now let’s take a look at how things changed in each province over the past year.
|Dec 2021||Dec 2022||Change||% change|
Alberta gained over 500 active businesses over the past 12 months, the fourth largest increase the country. Ontario topped the list, with over 6,300 more active businesses. Québec and BC were in second and third place, respectively, with 1,795 and 1,084 more businesses.
Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick were the only provinces to see their number of active businesses drop over the last year.
Since December 2021, the number of active businesses in Alberta increased by just 0.44%, which drops the province down to the smallest increase among all provinces, not counting the ones that saw losses
Of the other provinces, four of them saw increases near or higher than 1% between December 2021 and December 2022, and one of them was above 4%. The national average was 0.8%, roughly twice as large as the increase Alberta saw.
The story isn’t much better when comparing 2 years.
|Dec 2020||Dec 2022||Change||% change|
Alberta’s increase of 2,589 active businesses over the last 2 years keeps it in 4th place; however, they drop to 9th place on a percentage basis (2.25%).
Now, let’s look at active businesses over the last 3 years. Here’s where things take a turn for the worse for Alberta.
|Dec 2019||Dec 2022||Change||% change|
December 2019 was 6 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 since the UCP government cut the tax rate on corporate profits, Alberta had the worst performance in the country, losing over 1,700 active businesses.
Well, at least since December 2019. Since June 2019, the month before the corporate profit tax cut came into effect, Alberta actually lost 2,134 active businesses.
That means in just 6 months after implementing the tax cut, Alberta lost over 400 active businesses.
Only 3 other provinces—New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador—saw a loss in total active businesses between December 2019 and December 2022, and the next largest loss was 641, more than a 1,000 fewer losses than what Alberta saw.
The largest increase was seen in Ontario, which has over 7,100 more active businesses than they did in December 2019.
On the plus side, Alberta wasn’t in last place for the percentage of active businesses lost: Newfoundland and Labrador took that honour. Alberta’s loss of 1.43% of its active businesses over the last 3 years, however, put it in second to last place, on a percentage basis.
Finally, here’s how things looked compared to December 2018, the last December under the NDP.
|Dec 2018||Dec 2022||Change||% change|
Alberta, once again, has had the worst performance of all the provinces in Canada, losing nearly 1,900 active businesses. Only two other provinces saw losses, and the second highest number of losses was half the number that Alberta saw.
On a percentage basis, Alberta was actually in second-to-last place, at 1.56%, and just above Newfoundland and Labrador’s loss of just shy of 7%.
Here’s another look at the numbers over the last 4 years.
You can see the huge drop in active business 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.
Plus, the number of active businesses was already declining for months before the pandemic-fuelled recession kicked in.
As well, not only are we still nowhere close to where we were 4 years ago, but it seems as though what growth we were making has started to decline again, with 7 straight months of lower numbers. In other words, we may still be a long way off from even reaching the pre-pandemic numbers, let alone the numbers seen prior to the summer of 2019.
Even so, the fact that Alberta has seen the largest loss in active businesses in the country is notable, given that June 2019 was the month after the UCP implemented the Job Creation Tax Cut.
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 we have over 2,100 companies shutting their doors, can we really say that the tax cut accomplished what they promised us it would?