Business Barometer®: Saskatchewan small business optimism drops again in November; 7 of 10 provinces see decline

Regina, November 28, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan dropped again in November to an index of 44.1, down from 50.0 in October. The index is now 12 points below the national average index of 56.1.

“It is concerning to see Saskatchewan’s small business confidence drop almost six points to an index of 44.1. In fact, Saskatchewan’s index is almost 21 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, Western Canada & Agri-business. “Hiring plans continued to weaken with 28 per cent of business owners planning lay-offs in the next three months, compared to only 7 per cent who plan on hiring.”

“It is clear there are a number of challenges weighing heavily on the minds of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs including pressures in the oil and gas sector, ongoing Ag trade uncertainty with China and a difficult harvest,” noted Braun-Pollon. “Adding to this uncertainty are many cost increases including the federal carbon tax, six more years of CPP premium hikes and municipal property tax increases in many communities.”

CFIB’s November Business Barometer® survey was completed on November 18th, a day before the CN strike started (November 19th) and four days after the new Saskatchewan Growth Plan was released (November 14th). “Given the many competitive challenges facing Saskatchewan business owners, we are encouraged Saskatchewan’s new Growth Plan will begin to address these hurdles,” added Braun-Pollon.
Nationally, small business confidence dropped 3.7 index points to 56.1, with the Prairies seeing the biggest declines, according to the CFIB’s latest Business Barometer®.

“On the whole, business owners are not feeling optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months, especially in the Prairies,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “The results we’re seeing harken back to the resource crunch of 2016. We can expect weaker hiring intentions in the short-term as a result.”

Provincial results: Major confidence loss in the Prairies

Saskatchewan lost 5.9 index points and fell to 44.1, the weakest optimism level in the country. Alberta posted the biggest loss, dropping 8.9 index points to 44.7. British Columbia (52.3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (54.8) posted optimism levels below the national average. Ontario (58.3), Manitoba (59.8) and Nova Scotia (62.7) also experienced confidence losses, but maintained results above the national average. Businesses in Prince Edward Island (75.0), New Brunswick (70.2) and Quebec (67.4) were upbeat—the three provinces were the only ones to gain confidence over last month.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for November:

  • 25% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 24% say it is bad (18% nationally);
  • 7% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (15% nationally) and 28% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (17% nationally);
  • Insufficient domestic demand is the main operating challenge (53%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (29%) and management skills, time constraints (19%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (70%), fuel, energy costs (57%), wage costs (52%), and insurance costs (51%)

Read the November Business Barometer®

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. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. November 2019 findings are based on 822 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received November 4 through the 18th. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

The December 2019 Business Barometer® will be released on Friday, December 27, 2019.

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

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at