A survey conducted for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) has found that leaders in the accounting field are optimistic about the national economy overall, but they view oil prices and the current protectionist sentiments in the United States as the main challenges to overcome.

According to the latest CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q4 2016), this is the first time since the second quarter of 2015 that optimism has pulled ahead of pessimism. Thirty-two per cent had an optimistic outlook on the Canadian economy for the next twelve months, up from 21 per cent in the previous quarter. Pessimism was at 21 per cent, down from 29 per cent in 2016’s third quarter. Almost half (46 per cent) of accountants surveyed had a neutral outlook in the fourth quarter.

Lingering economic uncertainty

Joy Thomas, President and CEO, CPA Canada, underlined the concern over economic uncertainty. "While the Canadian economy continues to show great resilience, business leaders are rightly concerned with the uncertain economic environment. The upswing in optimism is encouraging but the recent rhetoric around trade negotiations in the U.S. and the persistence of low oil prices are contributing to lingering economic uncertainty here in Canada,” she says.

 Eighty-three per cent of respondents also expressed concern over the federal budget as annual deficits are forecast to run longer than anticipated. "The federal government made a commitment to invest in Canada's economy but there is always an uneasiness associated with deficit financing," explains Thomas. "CPA Canada will be looking for the government to outline how and when it plans to return to balance budgets. Accountability is essential."