Manitoba small business optimism tumbles in September; all provinces see declines

Winnipeg, September 28, 2017 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer® index, which reveals small business optimism in Manitoba declined 7.9 points in September to an index of 57.3, compared to 65.2 in August. However, Manitoba’s index still sits 2.6 points above its September 2016 index.

“It is evident that Manitoba small business owners are feeling anxious about looming tax increases,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Entrepreneurs are facing a lot of uncertainty related to the proposed federal tax changes, the NAFTA renegotiation, potential carbon taxes, and the possibility of provincial healthcare premiums. This is on top of EI, CPP and minimum wage increases that are already slated for the near future.”

Nationally, small business optimism dropped for the fourth month in a row to an index of 56.9 (out of 100) in September, the lowest mark in 18 months.

“Since reaching a year-high peak in May, the index has plummeted by nine points. What is most striking this month, however, is that the decline is widespread: optimism dropped in all regions of the country and in 11 of 13 industry sectors,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB.

Business owners in Quebec remain the most optimistic, with a relatively healthy index of 70.9. Owners in the Maritimes are also more optimistic than the national average, but indexes now in the low 60s are a considerable step back from August levels. The mood is notably more subdued in the rest of the country, with Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador indexes at 50.9 and 52 respectively and Ontario not that much better at 55. Manitobaand Alberta index levels are under the 58 mark, while BC’s dropped below 60 for the first time since 2012.

Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for September:

  • 40% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 7% say it is bad (12% nationally).
  • 13% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (15% nationally), and 16% plan to decrease employment (15% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (35%), followed by management skills/time constraints (30%), and shortage of skilled labour (27%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (67%), wage costs (51%), and insurance costs (38%).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. September 2017 findings are based on 810 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through September 18. 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 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 call (416) 222-8022 or email You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics.

Business Barometer® is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark.