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Business leaders optimistic but want federal government focused on finance and climate change: CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q3 2021)

A majority of Canadian business leaders are optimistic about the general economy and their own organization, according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Toronto, November 30, 2021 – A majority of Canadian business leaders are optimistic about the general economy and their own organization, according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). 

However, while roughly half are expressing optimism about the Canadian economy, it’s clear that most respondents want to see the federal government concentrate on the country’s finances and a majority want it to address the issue of climate change.

Just over half of the survey participants (52 per cent) reported being optimistic about the Canadian economy over the coming 12 months  in the latest CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q3 2021). That is  more than twice the number of respondents who expressed pessimism (20 per cent) with a further  28 per cent  neutral on the matter.

Government finances & climate change

Turning attention to the Canadian government,  95 per cent of those surveyed are in favour of a comprehensive review of federal spending and 63 per cent are very or extremely concerned about the government’s fiscal position. Climate change is also attracting the attention of business leaders with 64 per cent of respondents agreeing strongly or somewhat that the  federal government should focus on mitigating climate change.

The majority of these senior business leaders believe changes to COVID-related assistance are needed, including ending programs for individuals (supported by 80 per cent) and for business (55 per cent). It is interesting to note that less than a quarter (21 per cent) of respondents are extremely or very concerned about the role COVID-19 may have on the economy in the next year.

The top challenges to the growth of the Canadian economy cited were: supply chain issues (28 per cent); employee recruitment, retention and development (17 per cent); and lack of skilled workers (16 per cent). COVID-19 was mentioned fourth, at 11 per cent.

“The economic recovery is well underway, but the pandemic has left its mark on society and public finances,” explains Charles-Antoine St-Jean, president and CEO, CPA Canada. “Sustaining our growth and ensuring it benefits all Canadians and is in line with our environmental goals will require efforts from the private and public sectors alike.”

Company-specific findings

More than two in three respondents (70 per cent) are optimistic about the economic prospects for their own company over the next twelve months, with only 11 per cent feeling pessimistic and 19 per cent reporting a “wait and see” neutrality.

As the economy shows significant improvements, respondents predict encouraging results for their organizations over the next 12 months. Roughly three in four (74 per cent) believe revenues will increase versus 13 per cent who believe they will shrink. Profits will rise according to 62 per cent of respondents with only 20 per cent foreseeing a decrease. And, despite concerns about the availability of talent, 52 per cent predict the number of employees working for their organizations will increase versus nine per cent anticipating a decline.


The CPA Canada Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by CPA Canada and conducted by NielsenIQ. The report draws upon business insights of professional accountants in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies.

For the Q3 2021 study, emailed surveys were completed by 475 of 5,879 people identified by CPA Canada as holding senior positions in industry (CFOs, CEOs, COOs and other leadership roles). Respondents work for a mix of small, medium and large companies, as determined by employee size. Additional details can be found in the study backgrounder. The response rate was 15 per cent, with a margin of error associated with this type of study ±4 per cent, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. Further information regarding response rate calculations can be found in the survey’s background document. The survey was conducted from October 26, 2021 to November 15, 2021. The survey background document is available online at