Business Barometer®: Sask small businesses lose some confidence in September

Regina, September 26, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan declined in September with an index of 53.1 down 2.3 points from 55.4 in August. The index is still over 6 points below the national average index of 59.3.

“Saskatchewan’s small businesses lost some confidence in September, dropping to an index of 53.1 – which is almost 12 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, Prairie & Agri-business. “Hiring plans have also remained weak with 24 per cent of business owners planning lay-offs in the next three months, which is a near record high for lay-offs in the province compared to only 7 per cent who plan on hiring.”

“We know small businesses have been hit with many cost increases and much uncertainty,” added Braun-Pollon. “There is little doubt some of the major contributing factors are related to the costly federal carbon tax, ongoing Ag trade uncertainty with China, and the significant delays in harvest across most of Saskatchewan.”

Nationally, small business optimism continued its yo-yo pattern of the past year, dropping 1.3 index points in September to 59.3 on the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

“We’ve seen a lot of this up-and-down movement in small business confidence over the year, and we have yet to see a month when we’re at a truly consistent level,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “The resource provinces in particular – Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia – are really lagging compared to the rest of the country.”

Provincial results: Resource provinces struggle

Quebec maintained the top spot in the country at 68.8 index points, followed by Nova Scotia (68.5) and New Brunswick (63.7). Prince Edward Island experienced the biggest drop (-3.8), but remained above the national average at 62.9 index points. Manitoba (62.6) and Ontario (60.5) did not register much movement this month, but also posted results above the national average. Alberta (54.1), Saskatchewan (53.1), British Columbia (53.1) and Newfoundland and Labrador (52.6) had the lowest confidence levels in the country.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for September:

• 28% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 17% say it is bad (13% nationally);
 7% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (16% nationally) and 24% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (15% nationally);
• Insufficient domestic demand is the main operating challenge (51%), 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 (55%), wage costs (51%), and insurance costs (50%).

Read the September 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. September 2019 findings are based on 642 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from September 2 to September 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 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 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