Business Barometer®: Manitoba long-term small business optimism climbs slightly in early October

short-term challenges remain

Winnipeg, October 29, 2020 – Small business sentiment climbed slightly in Manitoba to an index of 56.1 in early October, up 2.1 points from September. Nationally, the index took a tumble in October amid new concerns about a second wave of COVID-19, falling 5.9 index points to 53.3.

“While Manitoba’s 12-month index improved slightly in October, it is important to recognize that most of the survey results were recorded before a dramatic increase in the number of active cases and new restrictions for parts of the province,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region. “The 3-month outlook is only 40.4 points and hiring intentions remain very weak. It’s clear that many small businesses, especially those in the hardest-hit sectors, need provincial help immediately.”

Nationally, businesses were operating at a little under 71 per cent capacity for the month, with no improvements since August. Staffing intentions saw a slight decrease, with 28 per cent of businesses planning to reduce full-time staff in the next three months and 12 per cent planning to hire.

“The jump in COVID-19 cases is cause for anxiety in the small business sector, especially as some regions have renewed restrictions on businesses in the hospitality and personal services sectors, but the decline in optimism is pretty broad based,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist.

Provincial results: Optimism dropped in seven out of 10 provinces

All but three provinces saw a drop in optimism this month. Quebec (42.2), Prince Edward Island (44.0) and Newfoundland and Labrador (49.2) were the most downcast. Business owners in Nova Scotia (63.1) and British Columbia (60.3) posted the highest results. Saskatchewan (57.9) Ontario (57.3), New Brunswick (56.1), Manitoba (56.1) and Alberta (52.0) posted results close to the national average. 

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for October:

  • 35% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (31% nationally); 25% say it is bad (27% nationally);
  • 12% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (12% nationally) and 26% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (28% nationally); and 
  • Manitoba businesses’ average capacity utilization is at 75.1% of full capacity.

Read the October Business Barometer®.

October 2020 findings are based on 1,151 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from October 5 to 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 2.9 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region on the provincial results, please call 431-998-4498 or email You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings.