CFIB News Release: Manitoba long-term small business optimism feels the chill heading into the fall; short-term challenges remain

Business Barometer®

Winnipeg, September 24, 2020 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals Manitoba small business optimism levels for the next twelve months declined in September to an index of 54.0, which is now over five points below the national average index of 59.2. The province’s short-term (3 month) outlook also weakened to an index of 37.2. 

“Heading into the fall, it is concerning to see Manitoba’s small business outlook for the next 12 months trending down by over five points in September. With SMEs still grappling with many challenges, it has never been more necessary to help small businesses recover by shopping local at every opportunity” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region. “Other key indicators also remain weak with 11 per cent of Manitoba business owners planning to hire full-time staff in the next three months, while 27 per cent now foresee lay-offs.”

Nationally, the 12-month small business outlook saw no improvement in September, maintaining 59.2 index points. The three-month outlook was considerably lower at 39.7, a slight dip over last month.

“The gap between the 12-month and three-month outlooks tells us that many businesses are still facing significant difficulties,” said CFIB chief economist Ted Mallett. “Insufficient domestic demand is still the top factor limiting sales growth.”

Provincial results: Eastern Canada and Atlantic see both highest and lowest results

Quebec (45.2) and Prince Edward Island (50.0) were the standouts at the low end of the index this month. Manitoba (54.0), Saskatchewan (55.0), Newfoundland and Labrador (55.8), Alberta (59.2) and British Columbia (59.3) stuck close to the national average. On the other end of the spectrum, New Brunswick (64.5), (Ontario (65.4) and Nova Scotia (65.8) were the most upbeat provinces.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for September:

  • 31% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (27% nationally); 25% say it is bad (28% nationally);
  • 11% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (15% nationally) and 27% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (25% nationally);
  • Manitoba businesses’ average capacity utilization is at 73.3% of full capacity (down 2% from the end of August).

Read the September 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 perform. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The September 2020 findings are based on 874 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from September 2 to 14. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.3 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region on the provincial results, please call 431-998-4498 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 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 (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. Learn more at