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Accountants worried about Canada's economy

(LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

There aren’t too many employees that know a company’s numbers better than its accountants. And a new survey by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada shows they are feeling pessimistic about the economy.

Pessimism among professional accountants in leadership positions jumped to 35 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018. That’s up from 28 per cent in the previous quarter. Optimism is at 26 per cent — the lowest since 2016.

The top three challenges are trade with an increasingly protectionist U.S., uncertainty around the Canadian economy, and oil prices.

“Despite the recent spate of strong economic data, the sharp deterioration in economic sentiment highlights that Canada’s business leaders are rightly worried about the numerous external risks facing the economy,” says Joy Thomas, CEO of CPA Canada, in a news release.

While accountants are worried about the economy, they are less concerned about the health of their own companies. But optimism has fallen to 49 per cent, compared to 61 per cent a year ago. Expectations for increased revenue and profit have also fallen.

Increasing sales within Canada, cutting costs, filling staffing needs, and increased productivity are the top priorities for their companies, among the accounts surveyed.

Nearly 8 out of 10 think the upcoming federal budget should include a date for a return to a balanced budget. More than half want a review of Canada’s regulatory system. Nearly 80 per cent want a comprehensive review of the tax system.

“Business executives are among the many groups wanting the government to signal its intention to review the country’s tax system; if not the government, then one of the other parties during the coming election,” says Thomas.

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