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Canadian business leaders were feeling better about the economy during the second quarter, according to a new survey from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

CPA Canada’s latest quarterly survey of professional accountants in leadership positions — including CEOs, COOs and CFOs — found that 31% of respondents were optimistic about Canada’s economic prospects over the next 12 months.

This was an improvement over the 22% who expressed optimism in the first quarter, although it was down 1% on a year-over-year basis and down significantly from Q2 2017, when 50% of respondents expressed optimism.

One-quarter (24%) of respondents were pessimistic about the economy, down from 31% in Q1. Forty-four per cent of respondents were neutral — down from 47% in Q1.

The largest perceived challenges to the Canadian economy were protectionist trade sentiment in the U.S. (19%), followed by uncertainty surrounding Canada’s economy (16%) and the state of the U.S. economy (11%).

Optimism was even stronger when respondents were polled about the prospects for their own businesses over the next 12 months. Half were optimistic, one-third (32%) were neutral and 18% were pessimistic. Sixty-one per cent predicted increased revenues, 58% predicted increased profits and 43% expected to hire new employees.

Emailed surveys were completed by 378 of the 3,959 people who received it, making the survey’s margin of error ±5.0%, 19 times out of 20. The survey was conducted from May 30 to June 17.

Read the survey results.