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Sask small biz optimism falls in March; 17% planning layoffs

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan fell in March to an index of 56.3, down 1.4 points from 57.7 in February, and is still below the national average index of 62.9.

After three consecutive months of slight improvements, it is concerning to see small business optimism in Saskatchewan fall to an index of 56.3 in March. This is almost nine points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when an economy is growing at its potential.

Hiring plans also weakened in March, and tipped towards negative with only 11 per cent of business owners looking to hire full-time, while 17 per cent are planning to layoff staff.

CFIB’s Barometer survey was completed on March 20th, two days before the 2017 Saskatchewan Budget. However, since the budget was delivered, CFIB has heard from hundreds of small business owners concerned about the impact the $908 million tax hikes will have on their overall competitiveness. Entrepreneurs worry these massive tax hikes will not only increase the overall cost of doing business, but also further erode Saskatchewan’s small business confidence.

Nationally, Canada's small business optimism remained steady in March, holding on to the gains it had posted a month earlier, according to Business Barometer. The index remains at 62.9 points—the same as in February and 2.7 points above January’s reading. 

The national index has been supported by steadily improving perspectives in Alberta (55.5) as well as modest gains to indexes in Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.9) and Nova Scotia (65.9). Small business optimism in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick is in u7slightly to 56.3, while bigger declines were seen in Prince Edward Island (58.6) and Newfoundland and Labrador (42.2). Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for March:

  • 35% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 16% say it is bad (13% nationally).
  • 11% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (21% nationally) and 17% plan to decrease employment (11% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (51%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (20%), and limited space (17%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (47%), wage costs (47%) and insurance costs (41%).

March 28, 2017

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