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Manitoba small business optimism continues to fall in February; tax relief needed in upcoming budgets

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Winnipeg, February 28, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among Manitoba’s small business owners fell again in February to an index of 52.6, down from 56.3 in January. It is now six points below the national average index of 59.0.

“Optimism among Manitoba's small businesses continued to fall in February with the index sliding by nearly four points to reach 52.6; almost 11 points below February 2018 (63.2),” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Given that Manitoba’s job creators are dealing with several significant cost increases including the federal government’s tax changes, CPP premium increases, rising Hydro rates and the threat of a federally-imposed carbon tax, entrepreneurs need tax relief in the upcoming provincial budget (March 7th) and the federal budget (March 19th).”
 
Nationally, small businesses regained some of the confidence lost in December, but are not yet back to fall 2018 levels. The index rose 3 index points to 59.0 this month.

“While they haven’t fully recovered from the sharp drop in confidence at the end of last year, small business owners are feeling cautiously optimistic this month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “Hiring intentions, as well as wage and price plans are trending up as a reflection of that.”

Provincial results: Nova Scotia takes the confidence lead; Alberta remains least optimistic

Nova Scotia climbed to the highest confidence level in the country at 66.3, followed by Quebec (64.8). Ontario gained 3.7 index points to 64.1, posting the biggest increase of any province. Alberta gained 2.8 index points to 40.3 but remained the least optimistic province after a drastic fall last month, followed by Newfoundland & Labrador (47.7). New Brunswick saw a major loss of confidence, dropping 7.1 index points to 54.2.Manitoba (52.6), British Columbia (55.4) and Prince Edward Island (60.6) all lost some optimism, while Saskatchewan stayed at 55.2.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for February:

  • 39% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 11% say it is bad (12% nationally);
  • 20% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (19% nationally) and 15% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (11% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (40%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (33%) and management skills, time constraints (28%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (66%), wage costs (59%), fuel, energy costs (51%) and insurance costs (41%).

Read the February 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. February 2019 findings are based on 829 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 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 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email [email protected]. 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 [email protected]. You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) 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 cfib.ca.