Subscriber Survey

The Logic’s subscribers are divided on whether the Liberals’ throne speech promised enough support for SMEs and innovative firms

The procession, including Governor General Julie Payette and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives for the throne speech in Ottawa in September 2020. The Canadian Press/Justin Tang
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The Logic’s subscribers are divided on whether the economic recovery plan outlined in last week’s throne speech offered enough support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovative firms, our latest subscriber survey has found. However, many of the roughly half who responded favourably said they’re waiting to see the specifics of the Liberals’ plan.

Thirty-five per cent of subscribers who responded to the survey somewhat agree that the plan offers sufficient support to SMEs; 14 per cent strongly agreed. Thirty-three per cent of respondents disagreed with the premise. The remainder said they neither agreed nor disagreed, or that they didn’t know. The survey was conducted between September 24 and 28.

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Methodology

The Logic’s subscribers were emailed a private link to an online survey on Thursday, September 24, and the survey closed Monday, September 28. Respondents’ identities were kept anonymous and duplicates were removed as needed. Subscribers were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: “The economic recovery plan outlined in the Liberals’ throne speech offers sufficient support for small- and medium-sized enterprises and innovative firms.” Their choices were: strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, neither disagree nor agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree, I don’t know. Secondly, they were asked, “How satisfied are you with the overall plan for economic recovery outlined in the Liberals’ throne speech?” Their choices were: very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, I don’t know. Finally, they were asked “Moving forward, would you prefer that federal policy favour fiscal stimulus or restraint?” Their choices were: stimulus, restraint, I don’t know.

“Naturally, budgets will dictate the true implications of the throne speech but I see significant room to play, room to take this speech as an opportunity to seek additional support down the road,” one subscriber wrote. “There remains some unknowns, but I’m reasonably satisfied with the fed’s response thus far.”

Many subscribers are waiting for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to share specifics and program details in her fiscal update later this fall.

“It all sounds great but I need to see the nuts and bolts,” one subscriber wrote. 

“As usual, it was too vague to make decisions as a business operator,” another said.

The Liberals have promised to extend the federal wage subsidy through next summer, expand the small-business loan program and set up new incentives and programs for cleantech, worker training and child care. The government plans to pay for these measures in part by taxing stock options and tech giants.

At least one subscriber expected the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) extension to be helpful. The subsidy has seen considerable uptake among The Logic’s subscribers. Almost half of all respondents to a previous survey had applied for CEWS, and nearly 40 per cent of subscribers surveyed last month said they expected their company’s financial outlook to change once the program ends. 

Several subscribers had less favourable reviews of federal programs. One respondent wrote that the Liberals have made accessing support “almost impossible” for some small businesses that fall outside the government’s eligibility criteria. “From [the Canada Emergency Business Account] to rent relief, while I applaud the intent, I certainly can’t applaud the execution,” they said.

Another subscriber expressed concern about rising taxes for businesses and individuals. Innovation-economy firms have previously said that heavier taxes on employee stock options could make it harder to compete with U.S. firms for top talent. 

The Logic also asked subscribers how satisfied they are with the Liberals’ overall plan for economic recovery, beyond its support for SMEs and innovative firms. The results skewed slightly less favourably. Forty-six per cent of respondents said they are satisfied with the plan and 39 per cent said they are dissatisfied with it. 

Many subscribers are waiting on more concrete details. “[I] think creation of million jobs is possible and would have huge benefits but not sure if Liberals will actually get it done,” one subscriber wrote, referring to the government’s plan to bring employment back to pre-COVID levels.

Subscribers expressed concern about the level of government spending and what it might mean for longer-term recovery.

“We are digging a colossal fiscal hole,” one subscriber wrote. 

One respondent said it’s “naive” to think that interest rates will stay as low as they have been since March, when the Bank of Canada slashed interest rates three times down to 0.25 per cent. Analysts say it’s unlikely rates will go lower unless something calamitous happens to the economy.

The Logic asked subscribers how they feel about the government’s current approach to spending. Sixty-eight per cent of respondents said that they prefer federal policy favour stimulus; 23 cent favoured restraint. 

“We are not yet through this pandemic, and restraint is not the right level to pull at this time,” one subscriber wrote.

Although most subscribers support stimulus, some aren’t sure that the government is spending effectively. 

“They are wasting money on a colossal scale. We need investment in capital assets, including intellectual property products, not more consumption,” one subscriber wrote.

Other subscribers suggested commercializing innovative products and creating fiscal and tax incentives that encourage the private sector to focus on addressing equity and climate change, rather than creating programs that are “managed by bureaucrats.”

One subscriber who favoured stimulus wrote that investments in national child care and pharmacare programs, both of which the government promised in the throne speech, will be good for the economy long term.

The Logic asked subscribers a similar question in a survey conducted between March 13 and 16, as the country was entering COVID-19 lockdown and federal stimulus efforts were beginning to take shape. 

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Asked whether the government should introduce a broad stimulus or exercise fiscal restraint, 76 per cent of subscribers favoured stimulus—eight percentage points higher than this month. The number of respondents who favour restraint increased by nine percentage points during the same period.

One subscriber wrote that they now favour restraint “only because the stimulus in place is significant already.” Others continue to emphasize the urgency of the moment. 

“We are facing a deluge, to extend the metaphor of saving for a rainy day,” one subscriber wrote.