Business Barometer®: Small businesses still feel under the weather in April

April 25, 2019 – Small business confidence remained muted in April, rising by less than one index point to 56.7 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (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.”

Overall, 39 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 11 per cent say it is in bad shape. Hiring intentions are slightly improved over last month, but still not up to typical spring levels, with 19 per cent of business owners planning to hire full-time staff, while 13 per cent plan to cut back. 

An index level nearer to 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. 

Provincial results: Most provinces stuck in neutral

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. Newfoundland & Labrador remained weak but steady at 48.8.

Industry results: Major confidence drop in information sector

Businesses in natural resources regained some of their confidence, but remained the least optimistic sector at 43.3, closely followed by agriculture, which fell 4.4 index points to 44.6. The information sector experienced a major 10.0 index point drop to 50.0. The professional services sector gained 8.2 index points and jumped to the highest confidence level (68.8), followed by health services at 65.3.

Read the April Business Barometer®

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.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members 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. Learn more at