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CFIB says small businesses losing billions due to lack of workers

By Tara Clow Nov 29, 2023 | 12:13 PM

Labour shortages have meant billions in lost revenue opportunities for small businesses, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Over $38 billion was missed out on last year because they had to turn down or postpone contracts or sales due to labour shortages.

“We always knew labour shortages came at a high price to small businesses. Staffing challenges cause employers to work more hours, reduce their hours of operation and decline services and contracts, simply because they can’t find enough staff to fully operate their business,” said Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB’s economist and the report’s author.

The construction sector faced the most significant loss of business opportunities, over $9.6 billion in the last year.

The CFIB adds a collection of policy changes that will help provide some relief.

After a detailed review of what other jurisdictions are doing to address their labour shortages, CFIB has completed a whitepaper on how to address various barriers to work. The policy proposals cover three age groups—youth (15-24), core age (24-64), and older workers (65+)—and include targeted solutions on how to better integrate workers of all ages into the labour force.

Steps include increasing workforce participation amongst youth by offering work-integrated learning in high schools.

The CFIB adds among the core age group, employment insurance program design shouldn’t create disincentives to work, and governments need to facilitate labour mobility across provinces.

For experienced workers, the CFIB says governments should revisit existing tax policy and/or create a tax credit for career extension.

“As Canada’s population is aging, we need to ensure that those who are willing to work can do so without significant challenges. In the long run, the shortages will get worse, as will their costs, unless we change our labour market approach,” said Christina Santini, Director of National Affairs at CFIB. “We urge governments to find innovative ways to increase participation in the labour market among all age groups.”