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Labour shortages cost small businesses $38 billion in lost sales last year: CFIB

Last Updated Nov 29, 2023 at 12:27 pm MDT

A help wanted sign hangs from a business Wednesday, November 17, 2021 in Montreal. Small Canadian businesses lost over $38 billion in revenue opportunities last year as labour shortages continue to affect business operations, the latest finding by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

TORONTO — Small businesses lost more than $38 billion in revenue opportunities last year because of labour shortages, according to estimates from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

CFIB economist Laure-Anne Bomal says staffing shortages led to some employers working more hours, reducing their hours of operation and refusing services or contracts.

Bomal says while the number doesn’t indicate the Canadian economy lost billions of dollars, it is still a significant amount of revenue that small businesses could have benefitted from.

The report says small businesses in the construction sector saw the biggest loss in potential business opportunities, estimated to top $9.6 billion last year, followed by the retail sector losing out on an estimated $3.8 billion and social services with a $3.3 billion loss. 

Regionally, small businesses in Ontario posted the highest potential revenue opportunity losses in 2022, estimated at $16 billion, followed by Quebec and Alberta. 

CFIB offered solutions in its report including work-integrated learning in high school for youth, labour mobility of core workers aged 24-64 and tax credits for career extensions among other policy suggestions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press