Bruce Anderson is the keynote speaker at tonight's BC Chamber of Commerce dinner

“Pulse check” on provincial economy includes polls on housing, trade

Bruce Anderson made the keynote speech at a recent dinner organized by the BC Chamber of Commerce to present the findings of its 2017 Collective Perspective Survey.

Anderson, chair of Ottawa-based polling firm Abacus Data, helped found Earnscliffe Strategy Group in 1989 and was a fixture on the CBC’s At Issue panel.

He thinks there’s mostly optimism to be found in the Abacus survey, which polled 873 members of BCBusiness partner the BC Chamber of Commerce on a range of issues.

“People are pretty happy with the way their businesses are performing today,” Anderson says. “Only 8 per cent say their business is in poor shape, 33 per cent say acceptable, 61 say good or very good, so those are pretty good numbers.”

The veteran analyst was most surprised that B.C. businesses appeared undaunted by the province’s recent change in government. Seventy-seven per cent of survey respondents expect their business to be in good or very good shape in the next three to five years.

“That’s a pretty good, optimistic number, and certainly if I were wondering if the election of a less-business oriented government would put a real damper on the expectations of businesses about their futures, you don’t see it in these results at all,” Anderson says.

One thing that does worry BC Chamber members: high housing prices in certain areas of the province. More than 90 per cent of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the cost of living in B.C. will affect their ability to attract young workers.

Anderson acknowledges that “housing affordability is a counterweight to the idea that B.C. is a great place to attract new companies, new investors and new workers.”

Still, he contends that businesses aren’t necessarily getting out the pitchforks in frustration with the government: “I don’t know that there’s evidence here that people know what the solution is to that problem.”

The BC “Pulse Check” Dinner took place on November 28 in Kelowna.