Saskatchewan small business optimism improves slightly in January; 7 of 10 provinces see decline

Regina, January 30, 2020 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan rose in January to an index of 42.7, up from 40.0 in December. The index is now 12.6 points below the national average index of 55.3.

“It is encouraging to see that Saskatchewan’s small business owners are slightly more optimistic to start 2020. However, the province’s index is still over 22 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 also remained weak with 24 per cent of business owners planning lay-offs in the next three months, compared to only 9 per cent who plan on hiring.”

Nationally, small business owners started off the new decade in a slump with the country’s optimism level falling 0.2 index points to 55.3.

“While Saskatchewan and Alberta are still the most downcast provinces, the rest of the country seems to be following their lead,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “Staffing plans for the next three months, in particular, remain weak, with more business owners planning to lay off staff than those planning to hire.”

Provincial results: Muted sentiment in most provinces

Alberta remained the least optimistic province in the country, dropping 1.3 index points to 37.0. Saskatchewan posted the second lowest confidence level at 42.7, despite also gaining the most index points of any province over last month (+2.7). Newfoundland and Labrador (48.6) and British Columbia (56.4) were the only other provinces to experience confidence gains in January, but still posted results at or below the national average. Prince Edward Island (65.3) and Quebec (63.5) were the most upbeat provinces, but both experienced confidence losses. Sentiment also slipped in Ontario (59.9), Nova Scotia (59.5), New Brunswick (59.4) and Manitoba (57.4), pushing them below the 60 point mark.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for January:

  • 25% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 30% say it is bad (16% nationally);
  • 9% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (16% nationally) and 24% 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 (28%) and management skills, time constraints (21%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (68%), fuel, energy costs (58%), wage costs (52%), and insurance costs (51%)

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 2020 findings are based on 864 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from January 6th to the 20th. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.3 per cent 19 times in 20.

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