Manitoba's small business optimism index had been on the rise for six months in a row, but it's starting to plateau. That's from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business who released their May report.

Brianna Solberg, Director of Provincial Affairs, says there are significant challenges such as lower sales, record-high business costs, and a historically difficult labour market which is making it hard to recover. While CFIB had seen optimism start to bounce back after the pandemic, it's now levelled off.

Solberg thinks Manitoba is in a good position, sitting near the top in relation to other provinces, noting there was a one-point drop in optimism from April.

"There are some sticky challenges that they're facing. The labour shortage is one of them. It's still creating huge headaches for small businesses," says Solberg. "We have 46 per cent of Manitoba small business owners reporting a shortage of skilled workers and 28 per cent reporting a shortage of semi-skilled workers. So, that's still something that is creating a lot of disruption."

Solberg says 81 per cent of small business owners are saying that wage costs are the number one concern that their businesses are facing because they have to offer higher wages in order to attract and retain staff in this labour market. If there can be a correction in that area, Solberg hopes business owners will become more optimistic once again, saying there are some proactive things being done in the province already.

"The Minister of Immigration is putting together an Immigration Advisory Council to look at some recommendations, look to streamline provincial immigration programs, and correct labour market mismatches. So, those are really good, proactive measures to help this problem."