Monthly Business Barometer®

February 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, has seen a healthy gain of six points in February, to reach 54.9. The short-term optimism index, based on a 3-month outlook, also jumped by eight points, and reached 51.1. Both levels have seen some of the largest monthly gains ever recorded for this time of the year.

12-month and 3-month small business confidence index, Canada


Provincial picture

The provincial outlook mirrors Canada’s gains in optimism. Nine provinces have seen improvements in 12-month optimism, while Saskatchewan remained unchanged. Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island recorded the largest jumps in long term confidence. Despite the boost in confidence in  Quebec and New Brunswick, both provinces are still below the 50 mark.   

Sectoral picture

All sectors registered gains in 12-month optimism, except the finance, insurance and real estate industry which saw a small decrease. Health and education, manufacturing and retail reported the largest improvements. The retail sector’s boost of confidence of four points brought the optimism level at 52.8, the first time over 50 since May 2023. However, similar to the previous three months and despite healthy improvements, agriculture and hospitality are at the bottom of the optimism scale, both with levels below 50.   

Inflation indicators

Average price increase plans for the next 12 months remained unchanged at 2.8%. Average wage increase plans dropped slightly to 2.5%. 

Future price and wage increase plans


Demand indicators

About half of small businesses (49%) are reporting insufficient domestic/foreign demand a main limitation on sales or production growth. This is as high as the levels seen during the early months of the pandemic. 

Main costs on business

The share of businesses citing insurance costs as a challenge is cruising at the same high level as in the previous month (65%). Borrowing costs have also remained at concerningly high levels as in the previous six months.  

Factors limiting sales or production growth - current levels and trend, February 2024


Major input cost constraints - current levels and trend, February 2024



February findings are based on 645 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from February 1 to the 12. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 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 March 28, 2024.

Andreea Bourgeois, Director of Economics

Simon Gaudreault, Vice-President, Research and Chief Economist

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