Canadian CEOs’ optimism hits record high despite increasing anxiety over threats to growth

  • Canadian CEOs express record level of confidence in the global economy and their company’s growth prospects

  • Canada looks to the US on trade for expansion, along with emphasis on China, Germany and the UK

  • Geopolitical uncertainty, protectionism and cyber threats are top threats to growth


Toronto, February 12, 2018 – A record-breaking 88% of Canadian CEOs are optimistic about their company’s prospects for revenue growth and 72% believe global economic growth will improve over the next twelve months according to the Canadian results of PwC’s 21st Global CEO Survey.  The United States is still considered a top choice for growth by 88% of Canadian CEOs (despite NAFTA uncertainties) followed by China (53%), United Kingdom (30%), and Germany (19%).

“The combination of a stable economy and trading opportunities with the US, Europe, and Asia—especially in light of the newly negotiated Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)— make for a strong business outlook,” states Bill McFarland, CEO and Chief Inclusion Officer, PwC Canada. “There’s great optimism and momentum within the Canadian business environment with exciting opportunities ahead. Many Canadian CEOs are looking to create partnerships and alliances at home and abroad for future growth.”

The key threats to growth include geopolitical uncertainty (88%), protectionism (84%) and cyber threats (81%).


Technology and Talent

The world is changing rapidly and 67% of Canadian CEOs (vs 64% globally) believe that core technologies such as AI, robotics, and blockchain will disrupt their business models. However, fewer than one in three CEOs (vs 47% globally) say they understand how these technologies can improve their customer experience and create competitive advantage.  

Canadian CEOs also expressed concerns around the availability of digital skills within their own industries and among their senior leadership teams. On digital skills specifically, 65% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of digital skills in their workforces and 60% felt there is a shortage of such skills in the Canadian labour market.  

“There’s a great opportunity for stronger collaboration among businesses, government, industry,innovation hubs and academia to close the digital talent deficit in Canada and retrain displaced workers,” adds McFarland.


Trust: A foundation for success

Only 33% of Canadian CEOs are concerned about a lack of trust in business compared to 60% globally. A majority of Canadian CEOs are taking positive steps to build trust by: focusing on their organizational values to be purpose-led and values driven; promoting diversity and inclusion; and investing in cybersecurity and data protection to build trust with employees and customers. But there is more to do to build trust with all stakeholders and develop measures of success which are connected to broader societal outcomes.

Click here to access the full Canadian results of PwC’s CEO Survey.


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