“The latest result suggests the economy is truly kicking into low gear,” explained CFIB vice-president and chief economist, Ted Mallett. “This marks the fourth monthly decline in a row, and the fifth since March 2010’s post-recession high of 69.9.”

Dropping six points to below 60, Ontario played the largest role in carrying the national score lower. Ontario small business confidence is now at its lowest since June 2009. Business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador are the most optimistic, with an index score of 69.1, while those in New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are closely grouped in the 65 to 67 range.

Mallett went on to say that muted optimism has more to do with business owners’ forward perspectives than the recent past. “There is virtual balance between owners reporting better or worse performance in the past three or four months,” he said.