BRITISH Columbia small business owners posted another healthy gain in optimism in October and remain the most upbeat in the country after Newfoundland and Labrador. At 72.3, BC’s Business Barometer index is at its highest level since mid-2011. BC is also seeing positive hiring plans for this time of year, with 21 per cent of owners planning to add staff, while only seven per cent are expecting to reduce staff in the next few months, says CFIB.

“Of the hundreds of small business owners surveyed, the majority are clearly feeling pretty good about our province’s economic fortunes,” says Mike Klassen, BC Director of Provincial Affairs. “BC has continued to track upward since last spring, with concerns about taxes and regulations still remaining the highest in the country.”

November shaped up to be a reasonably positive month for Canadian small businesses. CFIB’s Business Barometer Index gained almost a full point, posting a 65.9 this month over October’s 65.  It is also the second highest reading of 2013 after February’s 66.2

“The picture we’re looking at right now is reasonably positive,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Chief Economist and Vice President. “It will be interesting to see if this trend continues among modest pricing and wage expectations in the coming months.”

Optimism remains strongest in Newfoundland and Labrador (74.7), although we see gains in all four Western Provinces—particularly in British Columbia (72.3). Ontario businesses are showing slightly less optimism, but with an index tracking still very close to the national average. The problem areas continue to be Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, each with index levels at least 10 points below national norms.

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level of between 65 and 70 means the economy is growing at its potential.