Canada's small businesses are still feeling the pressure says CFIB

A measure of business confidence hardly moved in October following a significant decline in September

Canada's small businesses are still feeling the pressure says CFIB
Steve Randall

The pandemic remains a significant barrier to ‘business as normal’ for Canada’s small and medium sized businesses.

Business owners’ confidence has remained weakened according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

October’s CFIB Business Barometer 3-month outlook scored 45.5 index points, only 2.3 points higher than September. The 12-month outlook was up 2.7 points to 60.5.

To add context, that means only a small increase from the previous month which had recorded the largest decline in both short- and long- term outlooks since the start of the pandemic.

The cost of doing business, supply chain issues, labour shortages, and inflation are all making things harder.

Simon Gaudreault, VP of national research at CFIB, said this is a challenging time for small business owners.

“Many of them are out of the proverbial frying pan of lockdowns and right into the fire, with rising costs, heavy debt loads, difficulties obtaining supplies and a widespread and persistent shortage of labour" he said. "Now the federal government has also withdrawn support from many businesses that still need it but can't meet the high new bars of entry, adding even more pressure in the context of already very challenging business conditions."

Far from normal

With CFIB’s research showing that only 22% of businesses are not currently fully open, just 45% fully staffed, and just 39% with normal sales, the scale of the challenge is clear.

These conditions will impact those Canadians working for independent businesses. Wage increase plans were stable at 2.5%.

"The crisis part of the pandemic may be over, but its echoes continue to destabilize small business recovery and the economy," noted Andreea Bourgeois, senior research analyst at CFIB. "There is still a long way to go for a full recovery. Governments should act accordingly as they adjust business supports and consider adding on new costs for employers and entrepreneurs."