Business Barometer®: Sask small business optimism improves slightly in August

Regina, August 29, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan improved slightly in August with an index of 55.4, up 1.1 points from 54.3 in July.  However, the index is still 5 points below the national average index of 60.6.

“Saskatchewan’s small businesses kept their optimism in check in August, with a one-point gain which put it just above the mid-fifties mark at 55.4 - but is still almost 10 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when the economy is growing at its potential,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “Hiring plans remained weak with 13 per cent of respondents planning on reducing staff in the next three months, compared to only 5 per cent planning to hire.”

Nationally, small business optimism also improved slightly in August, rising 2.8 index points to 60.6 on the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

“It’s always good to see sentiment advance, but this is only the second time this year that business confidence has been above the 60-point mark,” said Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s Senior Director of National Research. “Clearly, we still have room to improve, as reflected in this month’s weak hiring plans.”

Provincial results: Eight out of 10 provinces post higher results

Quebec (67.7) had the highest confidence level in the country, followed by Nova Scotia (67.2), which also experienced the greatest increase in optimism. Prince Edward Island (66.7), Manitoba (62.1) and New Brunswick (61.3) also posted results above the national average. Ontario experienced a 3.9 index point increase but came in just below the national average with 59.9. Newfoundland & Labrador gained 3.2 index points, but was the least optimistic province at 53.2, followed by Alberta (54.3), British Columbia (55.3) and Saskatchewan (55.4).

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for August:

  • • 27% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 17% say it is bad (10% nationally);
  • • 5% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (16% nationally) and 13% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (13% nationally);
  • • Insufficient domestic demand is the main operating challenge (52%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (28%) and management skills, time constraints (18%);
  • • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (70%), fuel, energy costs (56%), wage costs (51%), and insurance costs (50%).

Read the 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. August 2019 findings are based on 661 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through August 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000 or email You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

To arrange an interview with Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s Senior Director of National Research 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 (5,250 in Saskatchewan) 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