MRO Magazine

Shrinking margins, high dollar, attracting talent top list of worries for Canadian businesses


October 11, 2011
By PEM Magazine

When asked what issues are most likely to keep them up at night, Canadian business leaders rank profitability, a high Canadian dollar and attracting talent at the top of their list of worries, according to a new national survey conducted by business law firm Miller Thomson LLP.  The vast majority of Canadian executives also say they look to customers when making business decisions, believing that federal and provincial governments are only marginally capable of solving the country’s most pressing issues.

"What we are hearing from Canadian business leaders is that external economic forces are clearly taking a toll on corporate bottom lines," said Gerald Courage, Chair, Miller Thomson LLP. "There is no doubt that a high Canadian dollar has been a major factor, so it is reassuring to see some recent relief in this area."

The survey, conducted in the second half of August, polled 200 senior business executives from a broad spectrum of the Canadian economy, including manufacturing, financial services, retail, forestry, agriculture and mining. Respondents were asked to share the issues that most concern them, who has the most impact on their business decisions, and how much confidence they have in federal and provincial governments to address their concerns. The Miller Thomson survey is the second time in less than a year that the firm has reached out to Canadian executives to measure their point of view on current business issues.

"This is the second time in less than a year that we have reached out to Canadian executives to measure their progress and point of view during this very volatile economic period," said Courage. "The evolving picture is of anti-protectionist, independent minded business leadership that is listening carefully to the market, rather than looking to government to solve their problems."


A sample of 200 senior and C-level executives were surveyed (157 males and 43 females). The largest number of respondents come from Manufacturing and Construction (30 per cent), followed by Services (23 per cent); Retail and Wholesale Trade (14 per cent); Transportation, Communications, Technology and Utilities (13 per cent); Finance; Insurance and Real Estate (10 per cent); Mining, Oil and Gas, Exploration (7 per cent); Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (3 per cent); and Education, Health and Public Administration (1 per cent).