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Business Barometer: Optimism remains sluggish; small businesses plan to increase wages in early 2018

December 28, 2017 – As we head into the new year, small business confidence remains muted across much of the country, according the latest Business Barometer® survey, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

The monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up in December to 59.7 (out of 100), well below its 12-month peak of 66.0 in May 2017. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.

“Despite a growing economy, the concern over rising wages and taxes have many small businesses nervous about what the first few months of 2018 holds for them,” said Ted Mallett, Vice-President and Chief Economist at CFIB. 

The survey does show a big jump in short-term wage expectations: over the next three months, small businesses plan to increase wages by 2.7 per cent—by far the highest reading recorded since the survey was initiated in 2009. 

Provincial Results: Quebec remains on top

Once again, business owners in Quebec are the country’s most optimistic—as they have been for much of 2017—with that index rising almost a point to 66.3. Larger improvements of more than three points came from British Columbia (64.3) and Alberta (60.1), while Saskatchewan (50.9) experienced the biggest drop in confidence.


Confidence Index

Change from November




British Columbia



Nova Scotia












Prince Edward Island






New Brunswick



Newfoundland & Labrador




Industry results: Retail and hospitality sectors are most pessimistic

Despite the holidays, business owners in the retail (53.7) and hospitality (44.5) sectors are the least confident heading into 2018; both industries saw big declines in December.

Conversely, the financial services, insurance and real estate sector saw the largest increase (+6.1) in confidence in December and is now the most optimistic industry group, with an index score of 66.1.

Read the December Business Barometer®.

December 2017 findings are based on 701 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through December 14. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent, 19 times in 20.


For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Andy Radia, 647-464-2814, [email protected] 

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region. 

December 28, 2017

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