Business Barometer®: Majority of Alberta business owners still in bad shape in May

Calgary, May 14, 2020 – The start of May brought some improvement to Alberta’s small business confidence, which increased 8.6 points to an index of 55.3 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®. However, over half of Alberta small businesses say their firm is still in bad shape.

“Although Alberta has seen consecutive improvements in its small business confidence, we know businesses are still facing severe operating challenges,” said Annie Dormuth, CFIB’s Alberta director of provincial affairs. “With restrictions being lifted and some businesses able to reopen, governments will need to ensure support programs are available throughout the summer and provide additional relief for rent and property taxes.”

Only twelve per cent of Alberta business owners say their business is in a good state, compared to 56% who say their business is in bad shape. Hiring plans remain quite weak in Alberta with only 11% of business owners planning to hire full-time staff in the next three months, while 45% are planning for layoffs.

“Small business owners are settling into the new normal and finding ways to cope and adapt,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “The prospect of restrictions loosening in some parts of the country is also bringing some hope, but many are still considering layoffs and holding off on investments. Insufficient domestic demand remains the biggest factor limiting sales amid the pandemic.”

Provincial results: Quebec still the least optimistic province

Nationally, small business confidence gained almost 7 points to 53.2 points in the first half of May. The provincial results for May are: New Brunswick (59.5), Manitoba (57.3), Ontario (57.2), British Columbia (56.7), Alberta (55.3), Nova Scotia (52.7), Newfoundland and Labrador (50.0), Prince Edward Island (47.6), Saskatchewan (44.8), and Quebec (36.4).

An index level near to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

Changes in Barometer release schedule

Due to rapidly evolving economic conditions impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, CFIB has increased the frequency of its Business Barometer Survey from monthly to bi-monthly through June 2020. CFIB will release results for early May on May 14.

Early May 2020 findings are based on 1,201 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received on May 5 and 6. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 2.8 per cent 19 times in 20.
For media enquiries about the Alberta results, please contact Annie Dormuth, CFIB’s Alberta Director of provincial affairs at or 403-700-1945. For national results, please contact Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, or 647-464-2814

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (10,000 in Alberta) 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