ACC Media Release: December 20, 2022

ACC Media Release: December 20, 2022

Outlook on Alberta’s long-term future significantly improved among business community: ACC survey

EDMONTON - In the last year, the proportion of businesses with a positive outlook on the long-term prospects of Alberta has increased from less than half (43%) to more than two-thirds (68%) in November, marking an upward shift of 25% from the previous year. Respondents with a negative outlook also declined, from over half (55%) to just under three-in-ten (29%).

long term future graph

These insights come from the fourth Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC) survey in the Alberta Perspectives series to focus on local competitiveness and business supports, exploring issues like utilities costs, barriers to business growth, and customer service when interacting with municipalities. This data set has been updated annually since 2019, with the current survey taking place between October 1st and 31st with a total of 539 respondents offering their insights.
Analysis shows a growing trend of increasing concern regarding the affordability of electricity and natural gas by the majority of respondents. Almost half (49% excluding "don't know" responses) state that their electricity costs have risen by 20% or more relative to their monthly operating costs, and 44% report the same with their natural gas costs.

"With the Alberta Chambers of Commerce having measured the strongest positive economic long-term outlook expressed by business operators in years, businesses in Alberta are looking beyond an economic downturn and signaling expectations that they can be successful in the future. Our members appreciate provincial efforts to address affordability in the current climate of high inflation – the next step we need to take is to remedy the drivers of our excessively high utility costs." - Shauna Feth, President and CEO, Alberta Chambers of Commerce

Insurance Premiums Tax topped operators list of barriers to business growth for the fourth year in a row. Citations of municipal franchise fees on electricity and natural gas utilities increased by nearly ten points from 2021, more than any other, and ranked among the top three most cited barriers this year. Corporate Income Tax tied with franchise fees as the second most cited and was identified as the largest barrier to growth among respondents selecting more than one barrier.

barriers to business growth chart

The frequency of renovation and expansion projects being undertaken by businesses, as well as the ease of completing these projects while accommodating bylaw and zoning compliance, were also investigated through this survey. Response data indicates a continuing decline in the number of operators undertaking these projects over the past year, from 30% in 2019 to just 20% in 2021. In completing these projects, almost all businesses cite a problem with both the permit process and with bylaw and zoning compliance.

renovation and expansion chart

While the proportion citing a variety of barriers increased significantly in 2020 and for many in 2021, the proportion citing specific problems has declined (in many cases) to 2019 levels. Presumably, the return to 2019 levels of bylaw and zoning-related complaints is a function of municipalities delivering improved service levels following the end of pandemic-related restrictions.

"This data provides valuable insights for ways to help businesses succeed – encouraging investment and job creation – by improving local administration and reducing costs for operators. Engaging local businesses to inform solutions to local challenges represents a significant opportunity for communities, and our province.” - Shauna Feth, President and CEO, Alberta Chambers of Commerce

Click here to read the full report.


December 20, 2022