Sask small business optimism kicked into high gear in August

Regina, August 30, 2018 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan jumped in August for the second consecutive month to an index of 57.9, up from 50.0 in July, but remains slightly below the national average index of 61.6.

“Optimism among Saskatchewan's small firms kicked into high gear. The index went from gaining 5 points in July to topping up another 8 points in August.  The index shows confidence among Saskatchewan’s entrepreneurs to be closer to levels seen in Ontario and New Brunswick,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “However, employment plans for the next three months haven't seen much of an improvement though with roughly equal shares of business owners looking to hire (13%) as to layoff (11%). The general state of business improved slightly with 38 per cent of respondents saying their businesses are in good shape, versus 17 per cent who see their firms in bad shape.”

Nationally, after a major drop amid trade tensions in July, small business confidence rebounded to 61.6 this month, gaining 4.8 index points over last month.

“It seems businesses across most of the country are breathing a bit easier this month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “Even markets that have been lagging since the resource price crunch of 2015 and 2016, like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador, are feeling more optimistic.”

Provincial results: Alberta and BC least optimistic provinces

British Columbia (55.9) and Alberta (53.9) were the only provinces to report drops in confidence, making them the least optimistic regions this month. Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador experienced the greatest confidence gains this month to 57.9 and 56.5 respectively. Prince Edward Island (74.0) and Quebec (71.8) remained the most confident provinces in the country. Nova Scotia (66.9) and Manitoba (62.4) both reported confidence levels above the national average. New Brunswick (58.0) and Ontario (57.6) saw gains, but trailed the national index level.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for August:

  • 38% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (44% nationally); 17% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 13% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (17% nationally); 11% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (12% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (50%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (26%), and management skills, time constraints (23%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (67%), insurance costs (52%) and wage costs (48%), fuel, energy costs (48%).

Read the August 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. August 2018 findings are based on 768 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through August 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 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, CFIB’s Chief Economist on the national results, please call (647) 464-2814 or email

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 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.