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N.S. businesses miss out on $1B in sales due to labour shortages

By Steve MacArthur Nov 29, 2023 | 3:08 PM

If you had to work a lot overtime while being short staffed, business owners are feeling the pain too.

Nova Scotia businesses lost out on about $1 billion in sales due to labour shortages in the last year – that’s the highest among all Atlantic provinces.

The figures were revealed in a new report from the Canadian Federation for Independent Business.

Policy Analyst Duncan Robertson says employers are having trouble hiring workers to fill vacancies and a lack of housing along with high rent is turning people away.

Overall, small businesses in our country missed over $38 billion in revenue opportunities in 2022 because they had to turn down work due to labour shortages.

“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, according to the report.

Proposals from CFIB improve the situation include:

  • increase workforce participation among youth with increased work-integrated learning in high schools.
  • employment insurance program design shouldn’t create disincentives to work
  • governments need to facilitate labour mobility across provinces
  • for experienced workers, 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.”