Saskatchewan small business optimism improves in January

Regina, January 31, 2019 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan increased in January to an index of 55.2, up from 51.6 in December. The index is also almost on par with the national average index of 56.1.

Saskatchewan’s small business confidence started 2019 on an upward path to an index of 55.2, up 3.6 points from December. However, Saskatchewan’s index is still 10 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 remained negative with 18 per cent of business owners planning lay-offs in the next three months compared to only eight per cent who plan on hiring.”

Nationally, small business confidence rose 2.5 points to 56.1 this month, but remained below fall 2018 levels.

“We’re seeing an uptick in confidence levels, but they are still well below what you would expect to see in a healthy, growing economy,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “The continued slump in business confidence is reflected in lower wage and price expectations. Businesses’ unfilled orders and accounts receivable are also taking a hit, falling to 2016 conditions.”

Provincial results: Major confidence loss in Alberta

Alberta fell to the lowest confidence level in the country at 37.5 after losing 7.6 index points. Newfoundland & Labrador had the second-weakest confidence level at 47.9. Prince Edward Island and Quebec remained the most optimistic provinces at 63.5, with Nova Scotia coming in close at 63.1 after a major increase of 6.1 points. New Brunswick (61.3) and Ontario (60.4) posted confidence levels above the national average, while British Columbia (57.3), Manitoba (56.3) and Saskatchewan (55.2) were more closely aligned with the average.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for January:

  • 34% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 17% say it is bad (14% nationally);
  • 8% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (18% nationally) and 18% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (15% nationally);
  • Insufficient domestic demand is the main operating challenge (50%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (24%) and management skills, time constraints (20%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (66%), fuel, energy costs (53%) and insurance costs (49%).

Read the January 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. January 2019 findings are based on 930 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 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, Vice-President & Chief Economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics.

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