Saskatchewan lags in national investment survey

Inventory at a warehouse owned by the Co-op. Expanding inventories, technically, is a form of investment.

As Canadian entrepreneurs prepare to pump more money into their businesses, those in Saskatchewan foresee a billion dollar slump in investment.

That’s the dark side of the Business Development Bank of Canada’s otherwise rosy report on investment plans, based on a survey of 4,000 small- and medium-sized businesses across the country.

Nationally, businesses said they plan to invest a total of $96.6 billion in 2017, an increase of 1.6 per cent compared to actual investment last year.

But in Saskatchewan, small and medium-sized businesses plan to invest less – an average of about $170,000 each, way down from $220,000 in 2016. Spread across the 82 per cent of businesses that say they’ll invest this year, total investment is expected to hit $2.9 billion. That’s about 25 per cent less than the 3.9 billion spent last year.

For the Business Development Bank’s chief economist, Pierre Cleroux, Saskatchewan’s trend lines are heading in the wrong direction. It’s a sign of caution in the province’s two struggling resource sectors: potash, and oil and gas.

“The most important part is the trend, rather than the number itself. So obviously businesses are still waiting to see more positive news in the economy before they reinvest,” he said.

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