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Report on Business teamed up with Nanos Research to conduct a first-of-its-kind survey of an elite group of Canadian leaders – with revenues totalling $224 billion – gauging their views on Canada’s trade and investment policy, their outlook for the Canadian economy and their own companies’ short-term health, plus the biggest threats and opportunities

If you had to sum up the mood of Canada’s most powerful CEOs, it would be grim. As chief execs tell it, this country has earned a reputation as an inhospitable place to do business. The economy will probably tip into recession in the coming months. Oh, and the nation’s road infrastructure? Don’t get them started.

Those are just a few of the insights Report on Business magazine got when it teamed up with Nanos Research for an exclusive survey of Canada’s top CEOs. The group of respondents to the anonymous poll (which we’ll conduct twice yearly) represent companies with combined revenues of roughly $224 billion and employ tens of thousands of Canadians in industries as diverse as banking, energy, manufacturing and retail.

Canada on the ‘wrong track’ as a place for business to invest, CEO survey finds

What’s on the minds of Canada’s CEOs? There’s clearly no shortage of uncertainties – interest rates, labour shortages, cyber attacks and climate change – but among these challenges, CEOs also see opportunity. And as concerned as the leaders of Canada’s largest companies are about the economy, most of them intend to continue to ramp up hiring over the next six months.

(You can read the full methodology on this research study here.)


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TRADE AND INVESTMENT POLICY


We need policies that provide certainty that projects can be approved and executed, and reduce the frictions to raising capital and investing in Canada.



Provincial regulators are too short-term and knee-jerk according to overt political direction. There’s a slow flow-through of infrastructure spending, and taxes are higher than other countries also attracting capital.




We have a stable financial system, rule of law, immigration policy and acceptance. But we need to work on infrastructure like roads, hospitals and public transportation to absorb our immigration.



ECONOMIC OUTLOOK



The cause of higher interest rates, inflation, is more of a concern as it drives up the costs of everything, exacerbating issues with disposable income and fears of recession.




When interest rates skyrocket, they create a major economic downturn in which strong companies can take advantage.



BUSINESS OUTLOOK



A recession will impact the timing of certain investments, but we see a recession as an opportunity to attract key talent from other organizations.



Our demand will hold through a mild recession, so there are no inventory concerns. We’re remaining cautious on operational costs but not pulling back—other than with labour costs, which will increase.



Against a backdrop of serious global crises, from climate change to geopolitical realities, outcomes-focused collaboration between the public-sector and private companies will drive a more productive, competitive and innovative Canada.



THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES


We have seen our peers and suppliers affected by cyber attacks. We believe it is a matter of when, not if.



We were impacted by a major cybersecurity event, and we know that with the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks and rapidly improving sophistication of threat actors, it will continue to be a threat to our business and to most Canadian businesses over the coming years.



Climate change is a threat to the planet, of course. There’s also an opportunity for us to show leadership in innovation to combat climate change.

You can read the full methodology on this research study here

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