Canadian CEOs remain confident their companies and the Canadian economy are on the right growth track, but fear inflation, the high cost of living, new technologies, a tight labour market, and geopolitical uncertainty will derail future growth, finds KPMG International's 2023 CEO Outlook.

Most CEOs are confident in the growth outlook for their company (80 per cent) and the Canadian economy (89 per cent) over the next three years. However, the unprecedented list of challenges and potential headwinds has tempered their optimism from last year's exceptionally bullish outlook, by 11 and 7 percentage points, respectively.

"Despite some softening in the economy, Canadian CEOs remain confident about the Canadian economy and their company's growth outlook over the next three years," says Elio Luongo, Chief Executive Officer and Senior Partner, KPMG in Canada. "CEOs are tackling demanding, evolving, and complex challenges yet remain resilient and confident in their outlook. They are reassessing their strategic priorities and redoubling their efforts on talent management and technology while weighing the macroeconomic and geopolitical impacts on their organizations and people."

Confidence in three-year growth prospects

  Cdn CEOs 2023 Cdn CEOs 2022 YoY Change Global CEOs 2023 Global CEOs 2022 YoY Change
Own company 80% 91% -11% 77% 85% -8%
Domestic economy 89% 96% -7% 78% 85% -7%
Global economic 69% 66% +3% 73% 71% +2%


Seven in 10 Canadian CEOs (71 per cent) say rising interest rates and tightening monetary policies could prolong any potential recession, compared to 77 per cent of global CEOs. Like their global counterparts, 75 per cent of Canadian CEOs also believe cost-of-living pressures will negatively impact their organization's prosperity over the next three years (vs. 76 per cent globally).

The biggest risk to their growth outlook – the one keeping Canadian CEOs awake at night – is the impact of technology disrupting their company or market.

While regulatory risks dropped from the top spot in 2022, it remains in the top four as CEOs grapple with the complex and everchanging regulatory landscape in any number of areas from tax, trade and supply chain to net-zero carbon emissions and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) requirements.

Geopolitics and political uncertainty risks have also become much more prominent factors that could negatively impact growth plans. While geopolitical uncertainty moved to No. 2 from No. 5 among Canadian CEOs, their global counterparts now rank it as the greatest risk to growth, particularly notable given that it didn't make the top five in the 2022 survey.YoY ChangeCdn CEOs 2022

Top risks to three-year growth outlook

  Canadian CEOs 2023 Canadian CEOs 2022 Global CEOs 2023
Emerging / disruptive technologies 1 2 2
Geopolitics and political uncertainty 2 5 1
Operational risk 3 3 2
Regulatory risk 4 1 5
Supply chain risk 4 11 4

Top priorities: Talent and technology

To mitigate the risks and navigate uncertainty, Canadian CEOs see attracting and retaining top talent as their top operational priority to deliver growth. That's followed by advancing the digitization and connectivity of operations and improving the customer experience. By comparison, the operational priorities among global CEOs are digitization, talent, and tied for third improving the customer experience and organic growth.

After over-indexing on technology spend last year, Canadian CEOs are shifting their focus to their people.

Fifty-seven per cent of Canadian CEOs are prioritizing more capital for technology (vs. 54 per cent globally) and 43 per cent are investing in developing their workforce's skills and capabilities (vs. 46 per cent globally). This represents a much more balanced approach than last year when Canadian CEOs had an 80-per cent technology and 20-per cent workforce investment. These findings are in line with the recent KPMG Global Tech Report that revealed many organizations face tighter technology budgets and will need to be laser-focused on connecting technology spend to business outcomes.

"Talent and technology go together, hand in hand. When used effectively, technology can be powerful, but it needs to be tied to specific business goals to drive growth, operational efficiencies, and better customer experiences," says Stephanie Terrill, Partner and Business Unit Leader, Management Consulting, KPMG in Canada.

"In a tight labour market, CEOs recognize they need to hold on to the right talent and give their employees the opportunity to upskill or retrain to deploy the technologies," she says. "Whether it's fending off cyberattacks, implementing and monitoring decarbonization programs, or addressing operational or regulatory obstacles, the ability to have data and insights at your command to help you make the right decisions is invaluable."

Globally, CEOs are investing heavily in generative artificial intelligence (AI), making it their top investment priority, and predicting it will pay off over three-to-five years. As many as three-quarters of Canadian CEOs (vs. 70 per cent globally) listed the technology as their top investment priority in the medium term, with most (55 per cent vs. 52 per cent) expecting to see a return on investment (ROI) in three-to-five years.

Remote working debate persists

Remote working remains a topic driving discussion among CEOs globally. While 64 per cent of global CEOs expect a return to pre-pandemic ways of working, only 55 per cent in Canada predict a full return to in-office work within the next three years, down from 75 per cent a year ago. To accelerate the trend, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian CEOs say they are very likely or likely to reward employees "who make an effort to come into the office with favourable assignments, raises, or promotions" compared to 88 per cent globally.

About the KPMG CEO Outlook

The ninth edition of the KPMG CEO Outlook, conducted with 1,325 CEOs between August 15 and Sept. 15, 2023, provides unique insights into the mindset, strategies, and planning tactics of CEOs. All respondents have more than US$500 million in annual revenue and a third of the companies surveyed have more than US$10 billion in annual revenue. The survey by KPMG International included CEOs from 11 key markets (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.) and 11 key industry sectors (automotive, consumer and retail, energy, financial services, infrastructure, life sciences, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications). NOTE: Some figures may not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs more than 10,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see

For media inquiries:

Caroline Van Hasselt
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-3328