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 July 2023, so keep that in mind.
First, here’s the number of active businesses in each province, as of July 2023.
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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.
|Jun 2023||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Between June and July 2023, every province but one 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 276, from 119,413 to 119,137.
Ontario, which was at the bottom of the list, saw 814 fewer active businesses this past July than they did the month before. Québec, with gain of 101, was the best performing province in the country.
On the other hand, on a percentage basis, Alberta had the third smallest loss, behind only Manitoba and Ontario.
Now let’s take a look at how things changed in each province over the past year.
|Jul 2022||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta gained over 850 active businesses over this 12 month period, the thid largest increase the country. Ontario topped the list, with over 2,000 more active businesses. Québec was in second place, with 1,438 more businesses.
New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia were the only provinces to see their number of active businesses drop over the last year.
Since July 2022, the number of active businesses in Alberta increased by just 0.73%, which bumps the province up to the second largest increase among all provinces.
Prince Edward Island was the only province to see an increase of more than 1% in their active businesses over the last year, and their growth had nearly hit 2%.
The story worsens slightly when comparing 2 years.
|Jul 2021||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta’s increase of 1,891 active businesses over the last 2 years drops it back to 4th place; however, they drop to 8th place on a percentage basis (1.61%).
Ontario had the largest increase of all the provinces, both in terms of absolute numbers (over 16,000) and the percentage of new active businesses (4.67%).
Now, let’s look at active businesses over the last 3 years. Things aren’t a whole lot better for Alberta.
|Jul 2020||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta saw a massive increase during that 3-year period, seeing over 10,000 more active businesses. It wasn’t large enough to take them out of 4th place, however, being surpassed once again by the 3 larger provinces. Ontario grew their active businesses by over 50,000, a 16.44% increase, compared to Alberta’s 9.62%.
Spoeaking of percentage increases, Alberta’s was so low, that the province drops from 4th place to 6th place; although that’s higher than the 8th place they were in at the two-year mark.
Let’s move on to July 2019.
|Jul 2019||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta saw the largest drop in the total number of active businesses between July 2019 and July 2023.
The ironic thing is that July 2019 was the first month 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 860 active businesses.
Well, at least since July 2019. Since June 2019, the month before the corporate profit tax cut came into effect, Alberta actually lost 886 active businesses.
Only 3 other provinces—New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador—saw a loss in total active businesses between July 2019 and July 2022.
The largest increase was seen in Ontario, which has over 10,000 more active businesses than they did in July 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 0.72% of its active businesses over the last 4 years, however, put it in second to last place, on a percentage basis.
Finally, here’s how things looked compared to July 2018, the last July under the NDP.
|Jul 2018||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta, once again, has had the worst performance of all the provinces in Canada, losing over 1,100 active businesses. Only three other provinces saw losses.
On a percentage basis, Alberta was actually in second-to-last place, at 0.93%.
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.
In fact, between July 2018 and February 2020, the last month before the government implemented public health protections, the province lost 1,786 active businesses.
As well, not only are we still nowhere close to where we were 5 years ago, but it seems as though what growth we were making has started to decline again, or at least stagnate.
We hit 119,590 active businesses this past February, which was the highest the number had been since December 2019. However, in the 5 months since then, it’s dropped by over 450 active businesses.
In other words, we may still be a long way off from even reaching the numbers seen prior to the summer of 2019.