Sask small biz optimism drops in February

Regina, February 25, 2016 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan dropped in February to an index of 52.4, down from 58.7 in January, now below the national average index of 54.7.

“Saskatchewan is feeling the impact of the weak resources sector, dropping more than six points in February to 52.4. The Barometer is now almost 13 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when the economy is growing at its potential,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri Business. “However, full-time hiring plans increased slightly to 18 per cent of owners planning to hire full-time staff over the next months, while 16 per cent are expecting to reduce staff.”

Canadian small business confidence remained virtually unchanged in February, posting a 0.3 point gain to 54.7, remaining ten points below the level associated with normal economic growth.

“Weak small business confidence in Canada’s oil-producing provinces, and particularly Alberta, continues to weigh down the rest of the country,” said Ted Mallett, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) chief economist. “We’re also seeing the impact of a struggling economy on pricing expectations which are on pace to go up by 2.4 per cent.”

Optimism slipped another point in British Columbia to 61.1. Alberta has once again hit a record low, falling to 26.7, remaining by far the weakest in the country. Saskatchewan dropped more than six points in February to 52.4. Manitoba held steady at 61.5. Ontario rebounded, jumping two points to 60.8, while Quebec climbed to 66.3, good for second in the country and one of its best readings since 2013. Newfoundland and Labrador saw a confidence free fall, losing 10 points to land at 53.5. Nova Scotia fell two points for the second month in a row, but its 66.9 mark is still the strongest in Canada. New Brunswick’s confidence slipped to 61.0. Prince Edward Island leapt five points to 65.5. Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for February:

  • 41% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (37% nationally), 16% say it is bad (17% nationally).
  • 18% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (24% nationally) and 16% plan to decrease employment (13% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (49%); followed by the shortage of skilled labour (34%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (47%), wage costs (43%) and insurance costs (36%).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. February 2016 findings are based on 723 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri Business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Vice-President & Chief Economist on the national results, please call (416) 222-8022 or email You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics.

Business Barometer® is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark.