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Whether you are thinking of starting a new business in Canada or already operating a business, you may be interested in knowing which major Canadian city or province is the best place to start a new business, or expand/migrate an existing business. This report presents a data-backed examination to answer this question definitively; the report utilizes data from statistics Canada to examine this topic; particularly, the Business Conditions Index is utilized in this work for an in-depth analysis.
The business Conditions Index takes into account the operating conditions of the businesses, the level of business activity in the area using road traffic data, & the size of the business district. Combined, these three parameters provide significant clarity regarding business conditions and whether such conditions are deteriorating or improving.
While, subjectively, many issues and anecdotes can be presented for-and-against particular regions, those cannot be relied upon; data-derived analysis provides far better insights for making strategic decisions. Moreover, all parameters examined in this work are explained in straightforward language, without any jargon!
The major Canadian cities, Calgary, Edmonton, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, & Winnipeg, are examined in this analysis.
So, what does the data reveal?
Winnipeg (Manitoba) has seen the best monthly improvement in business conditions since the third quarter of 2020 (data available at the end of the report), the second place for best monthly improvement goes to (2) Edmonton (Alberta) & (3) Montréal (Quebec).
As per the data, Ottawa has seen the worst rate in the improvement of business conditions, while the second-worst performer has been Toronto/GTA (Ontario), and the third-place goes to Calgary (Alberta).
The risk of deterioration of business conditions in the future (in major Canadian cities)
As per the data (variance and deviation analysis), business conditions in Toronto/GTA (Ontario) may deteriorate most rapidly, followed by Ottawa (second place), and Montréal (third place).
Best & worst major city in Canada to start a new business
The analysis of the average improvement of business conditions and the risk (coefficient of variation) reveals that out of the major cities examined, Winnipeg (Manitoba) has seen the highest rate of improvement recently and has the lowest volatility per average improvement in conditions (meaning conditions in this city aren't likely to deteriorate rapidly)—therefore, Winnipeg takes the top spot as the best city to start a new business or to shift an existing business/HQ; the second place overall goes to Edmonton (Alberta), and the third-place goes to Montréal (Quebec).
Overall, the least favorable location from the cities analyzed (as per coefficient of variation) is Ottawa, followed by Toronto/GTA (Ontario) & Calgary (Alberta).
The analysis reveals the growth rate of just the population isn't the only parameter of paramount importance; for example, the population growth rate of Manitoba isn't the highest (4.4% higher than the national population growth rate), population growth rate of BC is 33% higher than the national rate, yet these factors haven't improved the business conditions of Vancouver, for example.
While certain areas have certain comparative advantages that should be taken into account, for example, Waterloo (Ontario) is known as the Silicon Valley of Canada, which should be taken into account when strategizing regarding where to start a new business; if however, the objective is to examine areas broadly improving and more suitable for starting a new business, then the insights provided in this report can be utilized.
Other related factors should also be considered—for example, the tax rate, availability of specialized labor etc.; nonetheless, the overall factors discussed in this report are also relevant. Below, the ranking of the cities (best to worst) for starting a new business of shifting an existing business are listed & can be used to assess which cities are improving their business conditions compared to other major cities:
Table 1. Ranking of cities with best/improving business conditions
Table. 2 Summary of analysis
Primary source of data
Real-time Local Business Conditions Index. Statistics Canada. Available at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2021017-eng.htm