Business Barometer: confidence stumbles in March

March 29, 2018 – Small business confidence is going out like a lamb in March, dropping two points to 60.7 according to the most recent Business Barometer® from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The monthly index—based on a national survey which asks business owners how they expect their business to perform moving forward—continues to underperform compared to the spring of 2017 and 2010-14 norms.

“While there was improvement in many parts of the country, Ontario and Alberta are continuing to weigh down the national average as small business confidence there continues to sputter,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB vice-president and chief economist. “We are seeing a boost in short term hiring plans, which is normal for this time of year; however, the effect is weaker than it has been in the past – likely as more businesses struggle with wage pressures and a tighter labour supply.”

Provincial Results: Nova Scotia confidence hits post-recession high
Nova Scotia jumped three points to reach a confidence score of 75.0, almost 15 points above the national average and a post-recession high for the province. Saskatchewan saw the largest monthly increase at 5.2 points, boosting confidence levels to 62.0. Newfoundland & Labrador saw the biggest drop, followed by British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

Province Confidence Index Change from February
Nova Scotia 75.0 +3.0
Quebec 72.6 -1.3
Prince Edward Island 66.0 +1.0
British Columbia 65.9 -3.6
New Brunswick 62.5 +3.4
Saskatchewan 62.0 +5.2
Manitoba 61.2   -2.0
Ontario 57.1 -1.9
Alberta 56.3 0.0
Newfoundland & Labrador 52.7 -3.8

Industry results: big boost for natural resources
The natural resource sector saw a major confidence gain in March, leaping eight points to 66.7, making it the most confident industry in the country, just ahead of financial services and construction. Retail saw the sharpest decline, falling four points to 56.8. Agriculture has the lowest sectoral confidence at 50.9, below retail and transportation.

Read the March Business Barometer®

March 2018 findings are based on 754 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through March 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Kiara Morrissey, CFIB

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region. Learn more at