Canadian Small Business Statistics

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I've put together these Canadian small business statistics from various sources to answer people's common questions about small businesses in Canada. You can use them for market research or reports if you like, as long as you properly cite the sources.

These are the freshest Canadian small business statistics as far as I know. If you find others on these topics that are newer and freely accessible, do let me know.

How Many Canadian Small Businesses Are There?

As of December 2011, there were more than 2.405 million business establishments in Canada compared with 2.428 million establishments in December 2010.
(Note that this includes all Canadian businesses, not just small businesses, and only includes Canadian small businesses that meet the criteria to be included in Statistics Canada's Business Register:

  • have at least one paid employee (with payroll deductions remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency),
  • or have annual sales revenues of $30,000,
  • or be incorporated and have filed a federal corporate income tax return at least once in the previous three years.)

"According to Statistics Canada's 2011 Labour Force Survey, the number of employees in Canada was 14,282,600 in the first quarter of 2011. The number of self-employed workers was 2,656,800. . In 2007, there were 14,251,400 employed and 2,615,000 self-employed individuals, accounting for 84.5 and 15.5 percent of the sampled workforce respectively."

Where Are Canadian Small Businesses Located?

Key Small Business Statistics – July 2012, Statistics Canada

Approximately 56 percent of all business establishments in Canada are located in Ontario and Quebec. Almost all the rest are divided between the western provinces (36 percent) and the Atlantic provinces (7 percent). The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut represent only 0.3 percent of Canada's businesses.

Relative to population, the western provinces, Yukon and Prince Edward Island have more business establishments than elsewhere, with the highest rates in Saskatchewan and Alberta at 90 and 89 per 1000 population respectively. Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have the lowest ratios of business establishments per 1000 population. Ontario and Quebec are below the national average, with 66 and 62 business establishments per 1000 population respectively.

"SME Perspective: Canadian Rural-Based Entrepreneurs", Small Business Quarterly, November 2007, vol. 9, no. 3, Industry Canada

"In 2004, rural-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represented 28 percent of the estimated 1.4 million SMEs in Canada, somewhat higher than rural Canada's proportion of the overall population (20 percent in rural areas versus 80 percent in urban areas). This suggests that Canadians residing in rural areas were more likely to be entrepreneurs than those living in urban centres. This is corroborated by the fact that 6 percent of rural-based Canadians owned an SME compared with 4 percent of urban residents.

The Prairie provinces had the highest share of rural-based SMEs (36 percent), followed by Quebec (24 percent), Ontario (21 percent), the Atlantic provinces (11 percent) and British Columbia (8 percent)."

Canada's Small Business Hotbeds: Latest Trends, BMO Financial Group Economics Department, October 2005

This study examined 130 communities and ranked them on the number of small businesses relative to their population numbers and growth in the number of small businesses over the last 2 years. Note that only payroll enterprises were included.

"Approximately 60 percent of small businesses are located in bigger centres (CMAs or Census Metropolitan Areas) where large local populations provide a strong employee base and good market opportunities. Smaller centres (CAs or Census Agglomerations) are home to only 10 percent of small businesses."

Top 3 CMAs by Population (per 1000)
Calgary 35.9
Edmonton 34.8
Vancouver 33.3

Top 3 CMAs by Growth
Kingston, ON 5.6%
Abbotsford, BC 2.6%
Edmonton, AB 2.1%

Top 3 CAs by Population
Fort St. John, BC 48.5
Grande Prairie, AB 47.6
Whitehorse, YK 47.0

Top 3 CAs by Growth
Port Hope, ON 37.7%
Tillsonburg, ON 32.2%
Brockville, ON 25.3%

More Canadian Small Business Statistics

Statistics on the impact of Small Business on the Canadian Economy
Statistics on What Canadian Small Businesses Are Like
Statistics on Starting a Small Business in Canada
Statistics on What It's Like to Be a Canadian Small Business Owner
Statistics on Canadian Women in Business
More Small Business Statistics on Canadian Women in Business