Sask small biz optimism remains low in November; almost 1 in 4 businesses planning layoffs

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan remained weak in November with an index of 52.3, compared to 52.7 in October, which is well below the national average index of 59.3.

Saskatchewan's small business optimism remained basically unchanged in November, but its index of 52.3 is still the third lowest in Canada. It is also concerning to see short-term employment plans deteriorating even more, with 23 per cent of business owners planning layoffs – which is a record high for layoffs in the province. Only 10 per cent of owners are looking to hire in the next three months. The top cost pressures for Saskatchewan entrepreneurs are tax and regulatory costs, cited by 64 per cent of respondents, is also at an all-time high.

As we head into the holiday season, small business optimism in Canada is showing signs of improvement, according to CFIB’s Business Barometer® survey. Following a small gain in October, the monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up another 2.0 points this month to 59.3 (out of 100).

Provincial results were mixed, however. Increasing confidence in Ontario (58.3), Alberta (56.2), Prince Edward Island (55.8) and Newfoundland & Labrador (49.0) were enough to offset lower optimism in the other provinces. Quebec businesses remain the most optimistic in the country despite its index losing a couple of points to 65.4. Optimism in British Columbia (60.8) and Nova Scotia (59.9) lost ground as well, but indexes there remain just above the national average. Sentiment in Manitoba (55.3) and Saskatchewan (52.3) shows only a minor downgrade from October results, but the drop in New Brunswick (51.4) was more dramatic. Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for November:

  • 29% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 18% say it is bad (11% nationally).
  • 23% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (15% nationally) and only 10% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (14% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (49%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (27%), and management skills, time constraints (22%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (64%), insurance costs (50%) and wage costs (47%).


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. November 2017 findings are based on 698 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through November 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

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