Business Barometer®: Manitoba long-term small business optimism improves; short-term challenges remain

Winnipeg, August 27, 2020 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals Manitoba small business optimism levels for the next twelve months rose in August to an index of 59.3, which is now on par with the national average index of 59.2. However, short-term optimism levels for the next three months remain low at an index of 40.1. 

“While it is encouraging to see Manitoba’s longer-term small business outlook trending upwards in August, we know that it’s far from ‘business as usual’ for many employers across the province,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region. “With almost one-in-three of Manitoba businesses operating well below their usual capacity, and one quarter of entrepreneurs planning lay-offs in the next three months, many businesses need more support. That is why it is critical for the Government of Manitoba to invest all unspent funding that was previously committed to helping small businesses during the pandemic.”

Nationally, the 12-month small business outlook dipped 2 index points to 59.2 in August. The three-month outlook remains significantly lower at 40.9 index points.

“What ‘good performance’ means has changed for small business owners. Many may see just being here in 12 months as success,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “Key performance indicators point to a sluggish but steady recovery, but capacity utilization remains low, particularly in the hospitality and arts and recreation sectors.” 

Provincial results: Quebec and Prince Edward Island remain least optimistic

Nova Scotia was the most upbeat province at 68.0 index points, followed by Alberta (64.3), Ontario (63.1) and Saskatchewan (62.9). Quebec (43.9), Prince Edward Island (47.9) and New Brunswick (56.5) were the most downcast provinces. Newfoundland and Labrador (60.6), Manitoba (59.3) and British Columbia (58.2) stuck close to the national average.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for August:

  • 34% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (26% nationally); 27% say it is bad (27% nationally);
  • 15% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (13% nationally) and 25% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (25% nationally);
  • Manitoba businesses’ average capacity utilization is at 75.3% of full capacity (up 6.5% from the end of July).

Read the August Business Barometer®.

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker perform. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The August findings are based on 687 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from August 4 to 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 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
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector 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. Learn more at