Business Barometer: Manitoba small business confidence declines again in April

Winnipeg, April 26, 2018 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among Manitoba’s small business owners declined again in April to an index of 59.9, down from 61.2 in March. However, optimism remains above the national average index of 56.6. 

“It is concerning to see that Manitoba's small business optimism continued to decline in April, with the index now at 59.9,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “However, short-term hiring plans improved slightly with 16 per cent of business owners planning on hiring staff, while 11 per cent foreseeing layoffs.”

“There are a number of clouds on the horizon as business owners across the country are facing many cost increases and much uncertainty,” added Alward. “In Manitoba, small business owners were looking to the recent provincial budget to provide much-needed tax relief, but were instead hit with a projected net tax increase of nearly $118 million.” 

“It is even more important now that the provincial government stands up for small businesses by NOT following the federal government in limiting businesses’ access to the small business deduction based on passive investment revenue,” concluded Alward. 

Nationally, small business confidence fell for the third consecutive month in April, with the CFIB’s Business Barometer® index dropping more than four points to 56.6; the third lowest reading in the past decade.

“The only other times confidence was this low, was during the 08-09 economic crisis and the 2015-16 energy price crunch” said Andreea Bourgeois, CFIB senior analyst. “Hiring plans remain weak for this time of year, although measures for general business health, investment plans and new orders are steady. With declines in confidence in all 10 provinces and 11 out of 13 industries, there’s just not a lot of optimism amongst Canada’s small business communities.”

Provincial Results: down across the board

Quebec returned to the top spot for small business confidence levels in the country at 68.7, despite dropping nearly four points in April. Nova Scotia fell seven, but still sits 12 points above the lagging national average. Saskatchewan also saw largest major confidence regression, falling 7.4 points to 54.6.


Province Confidence Index Change from March
Quebec 68.7 -3.9
Nova Scotia 67.9 -7.1
Prince Edward Island 65.3 -0.7
British Columbia 61.4 -4.5
New Brunswick 60.9 -1.6
Manitoba 59.9 -1.3
Ontario 56.9 -0.2
Alberta 54.7 -1.6
Saskatchewan 54.6 -7.4
Newfoundland & Labrador 50.8 -1.9


Read the April Business Barometer®

April 2018 findings are based on 740 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for April:

  • 44% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (39% nationally); 6% say it is bad (13% nationally);
  • 16% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (20% nationally) and 11% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (14% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (32%), followed by insufficient domestic demand shortage of skilled labour (31%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (67%), wage costs (59%), insurance costs (40%), and fuel, energy costs (39%).


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 Andreea Bourgeois, CFIB senior analyst on the national results, please call (647) 464-2814 or email

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.