Sask small biz optimism edges up slightly in June; but still lowest in the West

Regina, June 29, 2017 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan edged up slightly to an index of 51.8 in June, from 49.1 in May, but is still the lowest in Western Canada and nine points below the national average index of 60.9.

“Although optimism among Saskatchewan's small businesses increased slightly in June after the massive drop last month, it is still the lowest in the West and the second lowest in the country,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “However, what is most concerning is the current state of business health, which is amongst the lowest in the country. Only 32 per cent of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs say that their businesses are in good shape (compared to 51% in June 2015). Hiring plans are also stalled in June with 15 per cent of business owners looking to decrease full-time employment over the next three months, and only 13 per cent looking to hire.”

Canada's small business optimism dropped by more than five points in June to the 60.9 mark, according to the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

“June’s big shift is almost entirely localized to a 10-point drop in Ontario,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB Chief Economist. “Index levels often vary for purely statistical reasons, but the downdraft in Ontario is likely policy based. The sweeping labour standards legislation announced in late May appears to be adding considerable uncertainty over future operating conditions there.”

Ontario’s index now sits at 58.0, third lowest in the country after Saskatchewan (51.8) and Newfoundland and Labrador (48.2), both of which saw slight improvements in June. Businesses in British Columbia (69.5) are still the most optimistic in the country, with Prince Edward Island (67.5) and Manitoba (67.1) close behind. Quebec (65.8)saw a small gain, as did New Brunswick (63.6), while Nova Scotia (63.5) saw a slight dip. After six consecutive months of gains, Alberta (61.7) held even in June. Results and the full report are available at: Business Barometer

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for June:

  • 32% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 13% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 15% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (11% nationally) and 13% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (16% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (48%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (28%), and management skills, time constraints (23%)
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (55%), wage costs (46%) and insurance costs (42%).

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. June 2017 findings are based on 726 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through June 19. 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.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.