Business Barometer®: Manitoba's small business optimism drops in November

Winnipeg, November 28, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Manitoba declined in November with an index of 59.8, down 3.7 points from 63.5 in October. However, the index remains above the national average index of 56.1 

“After sixth consecutive months of increases, Manitoba’s business optimism declined to an index of 59.8, which is about 5 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated with an economy is growing near its potential,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, Prairie Region. “We will keep a close eye on the short-term hiring intentions for the province’s businesses, which remain positive, but fell significantly from last month.”

CFIB’s November Business Barometer® survey was completed on November 18th, a day before the CN strike started (November 19th).

Nationally, small business confidence dropped 3.7 index points to 56.1, with the Prairies seeing the biggest declines, according to the CFIB’s latest Business Barometer®.

“On the whole, business owners are not feeling optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months, especially in the Prairies,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “The results we’re seeing harken back to the resource crunch of 2016. We can expect weaker hiring intentions in the short-term as a result.”

Provincial results: Major confidence loss in the Prairies

Saskatchewan lost 5.9 index points and fell to 44.1, the weakest optimism level in the country. Alberta posted the biggest loss, dropping 8.9 index points to 44.7. British Columbia (52.3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (54.8) posted optimism levels below the national average. Ontario (58.3), Manitoba (59.8) and Nova Scotia (62.7) also experienced confidence losses, but maintained results above the national average. Businesses in Prince Edward Island (75.0), New Brunswick (70.2) and Quebec (67.4) were upbeat—the three provinces were the only ones to gain confidence over last month.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for November:

  • 37% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 7% say it is bad (18% nationally);
  • 12% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (15% nationally) and 10% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (17% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (39%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (33%) and management skills, time constraints (28%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (68%), wage costs (56%), and fuel, energy costs (52%).

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. November 2019 findings are based on 822 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received November 4 through the 18th. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

The December 2019 Business Barometer® will be released on Friday, December 27, 2019.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, director, Prairie Region, please call 204-982-0817 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, 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.