Monthly Business Barometer®

May 2024 Results

Small business optimism in Canada

CFIB’s Business Barometer® long-term index, which is based on 12-month forward expectations for business performance, soared almost 9 points in May to reach 56.4. The short-term optimism index, based on a 3-month outlook, also gained  five points, and reached 52.3. Long-term optimism is at a similar level as last May (56.1) and the highest level since.   


Provincial picture

Canada’s long-term confidence is driven mostly by Ontario’s significant gain in optimism. Quebec (+1.0 points), Manitoba (+1.9 points) and BC (+0.8 points) have also seen improvements in confidence. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Atlantic provinces registered declines in optimism.     

Sectoral picture

The sectoral monthly changes are a mix up of increases (in 7 sectors) and declines (in 5 sectors). The most notable changes are in the retail and transportation sectors; both have registered sizeable improvements of 4.9 and 4.7 points.  Hospitality and agriculture are still mostly negative about their long-term outlook with levels below 50 (46.6 and 40.5 respectively).     

Inflation indicators

The average price increase indicator cooled back down to 2.8 shaving off the 0.5 points gained in April, and almost on par with March level (2.7). The average wage increase plans for the next 12 months dropped slightly to 2.8 in May, a small correction from the April 2.9 level but higher than the March reading of 2.5.  


Main costs on business

The gain in optimism translated into modest signs of improvement in other indicators as well. Staffing plans and general business health showed some positive changes. Slightly fewer firms reported domestic/foreign demand as the main limitation on sales or production growth (49%). Labour shortages eased off somewhat, albeit they remain at high levels of concern for many business owners. The share of businesses citing insurance costs remained almost unchanged (68%) – close to its peak reading.  




May findings are based on 602 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from May 8 to 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 4.0 per cent 19 times in 20. Every new month, the entire series of indicators is recalculated for the previous month to include all survey responses received in that previous month. Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’s performance to be stronger over the next three or 12 months outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level near 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

The next Business Barometer will be released on June 27, 2024.

Andreea Bourgeois, Director of Economics

Simon Gaudreault, Vice-President, Research and Chief Economist

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