Business Barometer®: Manitoba small business optimism declines in January

Winnipeg, January 31, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among Manitoba’s small business owners declined in January to an index of 56.3, down from 59.4 in December. It is now almost on par with the national average index of 56.1. 

“Manitoba's small business confidence lost some footing in January, with the index falling by three points,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Short-term hiring plans continue to be weak with almost equal shares of entrepreneurs looking to hire (15%) as to layoff (16%). These numbers indicate that the Manitoba economy continues to operate below its potential.”

“Sixty five per cent of the province’s job creators cite tax and regulatory costs as their greatest challenge and are feeling the impact of several recent tax increases including the federal government’s tax changes and CPP premiums,” added Alward. “Business owners will be looking for some much needed tax relief in the 2019 provincial budget on March 7th.”

Nationally, small business confidence rose 2.5 points to 56.1 this month, but remained below fall 2018 levels.

“We’re seeing an uptick in confidence levels, but they are still well below what you would expect to see in a healthy, growing economy,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “The continued slump in business confidence is reflected in lower wage and price expectations. Businesses’ unfilled orders and accounts receivable are also taking a hit, falling to 2016 conditions.”

Provincial results: Major confidence loss in Alberta

Alberta fell to the lowest confidence level in the country at 37.5 after losing 7.6 index points. Newfoundland & Labrador had the second-weakest confidence level at 47.9. Prince Edward Island and Quebec remained the most optimistic provinces at 63.5, with Nova Scotia coming in close at 63.1 after a major increase of 6.1 points. New Brunswick (61.3) and Ontario (60.4) posted confidence levels above the national average, while British Columbia (57.3), Manitoba (56.3) and Saskatchewan (55.2) were more closely aligned with the average.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for January:

  • 39% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 14% say it is bad (14% nationally);
  • 15% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (18% nationally) and 16% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (15% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (41%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (33%) and management skills, time constraints (28%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (65%), wage costs (59%), fuel, energy costs (51%) and insurance costs (42%).

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 performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. January 2019 findings are based on 930 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba on the provincial results, please call 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Vice-President & Chief Economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or  You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics. 

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.