Saskatchewan small business optimism remains unchanged in February; hiring plans still weak

Regina, February 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 remained unchanged in February with an index of 55.2. The index is also almost four points below the national average index of 59.0.

Saskatchewan's small business confidence held steady in February with its index staying in the mid-fifties level (55.2) for a second month in a row,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “However, hiring plans remained among the weakest in the country with 16 per cent of entrepreneurs planning lay-offs compared to just eight per cent who plan on hiring in the next three months.” 

“With Saskatchewan small business owners already dealing with several significant cost increases including the federal government’s tax changes, CPP premium increases, municipal property tax increases in many communities and the threat of a federally-imposed carbon tax, it will be important for the upcoming March 19th federal budget to provide some much needed tax relief,” added Braun-Pollon. “Entrepreneurs will also be looking for the March 20th provincial budget to be balanced without increasing taxes.”

Nationally, small businesses regained some of the confidence lost in December, but are not yet back to fall 2018 levels. The index rose 3 index points to 59.0 this month.

“While they haven’t fully recovered from the sharp drop in confidence at the end of last year, small business owners are feeling cautiously optimistic this month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “Hiring intentions, as well as wage and price plans are trending up as a reflection of that.”

Provincial results: Nova Scotia takes the confidence lead; Alberta remains least optimistic

Nova Scotia climbed to the highest confidence level in the country at 66.3, followed by Quebec (64.8). Ontario gained 3.7 index points to 64.1, posting the biggest increase of any province. Alberta gained 2.8 index points to 40.3 but remained the least optimistic province after a drastic fall last month, followed by Newfoundland & Labrador (47.7). New Brunswick saw a major loss of confidence, dropping 7.1 index points to 54.2. Manitoba (52.6), British Columbia (55.4) and Prince Edward Island (60.6) all lost some optimism, while Saskatchewan stayed at 55.2.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for February:

  • 32% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 15% say it is bad (12% nationally);
  • 8% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (19% nationally) and 16% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (11% nationally)
  • Insufficient domestic demand is the main operating challenge (51%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (24%) and management skills, time constraints (19%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (66%), fuel, energy costs (53%) and insurance costs (49%).

Read the February 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. February 2019 findings are based on 829 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 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