Business Barometer®: Small business confidence steady, but trade uncertainty weighs

September 27, 2018 – Small business confidence held steady in September at 61.4 index points, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“Optimism in Quebec and Prince Edward Island is still sky-high, but sentiment in the rest of the country remains more muted,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “Small business owners are responding to the political and economic uncertainty they’re seeing nationally and internationally.”

Forty-five per cent of owners reported that their business is in good shape this month, compared to 10 per cent who say they are in bad shape. Hiring plans are slightly lower than typical expectations for this time of year, with 18 per cent of owners expecting to add full-time staff compared to 14 per cent who plan to cut back in the next three or four months.

An index level between 65 and 70 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential and a majority of owners expect their business’s performance to be stronger in the next year.

Provincial results: Quebec takes lead as most optimistic province

Quebec overtook PEI as the most confident province in the country, reporting a level of 74.5, a 2.7 point increase. PEI’s optimism remained level at 74.1. Ontario experienced the greatest increase in optimism, gaining 3.6 points to 61.2. Alberta experienced a moderate confidence gain, but remained the least optimistic province at 54.8, followed by BC (55.9) and Newfoundland & Labrador (56.3). Nova Scotia experienced the greatest confidence drop this month, but maintained a level above the national average, while Manitoba’s confidence loss brought it just below the average. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick continued to report below average optimism levels.

Industry results: Mixed outlook

Natural resources, agriculture and financial services experienced the greatest confidence gains, although agriculture remains the least optimistic industry. Sentiment in information, retail and hospitality was muted, with all three sectors experiencing significant drops in optimism this month. Professional services and health services were the most optimistic sectors.

Read the September Business Barometer®

September 2018 findings are based on 605 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through September 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 4.0 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

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