News / Edmonton

Optimism low as Alberta businesses slow to recover from wildfire

Latest ATB survey shows nearly a quarter are struggling months later.

Crews clean up wildfire destruction in Fort McMurray in June.

File / Canadian Press

Crews clean up wildfire destruction in Fort McMurray in June.

Alberta businesses are still feeling a hit from the Fort McMurray wildfire, according to a recent ATB survey.

The latest ATB Financial Beat survey shows 23 per cent of small and medium-sized Alberta businesses reported “significant disruption” in the last quarter, in the form of reduced income and reduction in workforce.

“We have a number of companies that might not have a Fort McMurray address, but are very reliant on that market,” said Teresa Clouston, ATB’s executive director of business and agriculture. “If not solely, it would be a very big component of their enterprise.”

Nearly half (46 per cent) do not have disruption insurance to pad the fall.

Clouston said businesses should weigh the cost of protecting against catastrophic events that may seem unlikely to happen, to help cover payroll should something like the wildfires strike again in the future.

The survey also showed a dip in optimism across the province for the first time in several months.

Just 43.4 per cent of business owners said they were confident in their own business from June through August, down from 47.3 per cent the previous quarter.

“In our earlier surveys as the price of oil was down and we were entering this recession, everybody remained pretty optimistic and that was great to see,” Clouston said.

“But over the last couple quarters, people have used up some of the optimism that they had.”

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