Business Barometer®: Manitoba small business optimism remains weak in April; short-term hiring plans are on the rebound

Winnipeg, April 25, 2019 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Manitoba remained weak in April with an index of 50.9, down slightly from 51.4 in March. The index is nearly six points below the national average index of 56.7.

“Manitoba’s small business confidence remained weak in April with an index of 50.9 – which is nearly 15 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when the economy is growing at its potential,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. 

“While some provincial tax relief is on the way this summer, help can’t come soon enough. The province’s small businesses have been hit with a barrage of cost increases already in 2019, including the carbon tax which was imposed on April 1st,” added Alward. “Fortunately, short-term hiring is on the rebound with 22 per cent of owners looking to hire before the end of July.”

Nationally, small business confidence remained muted in April, rising by less than one index point to 56.7 on the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

“Small businesses are still feeling under the weather, with most of the indicators we measure reflecting a modest performance at best,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “In fact, confidence in nearly all provinces showed little movement this month.”

Provincial results: Most provinces stuck in neutral; Alberta remains least optimistic 

Nova Scotia’s confidence level of 66.7 index points remained unchanged at the top spot, followed by Quebec, which lost 1.7 index points to 63.6. Prince Edward Island also gained an index point, rising to 60.7. Despite experiencing the biggest confidence increase and rising 2 index points to 44.1, Alberta remained the least optimistic province. New Brunswick experienced the greatest confidence loss, dropping 3.1 index points to 53.5. Ontario (59.1), British Columbia (55.5), Manitoba (50.9) and Saskatchewan (50.4) all lost less than one index point over last month’s results.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for April:

  • 39% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (39% nationally); 16% say it is bad (11% nationally);
  • 22% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (19% nationally) and 12% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (13% nationally);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (65%), wage costs (58%), and fuel, energy costs (52%);
  • Shortage of skilled labour remains the main operating challenge (39%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (32%) and management skills, time constraints (26%).

Read the April 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 performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. April 2019 findings are based on 757 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 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 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
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.