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Billions lost annually to labour shortages

By Adam Freill   

Construction Labour

CFIB research indicates losses in Quebec stemming from lack of personnel amount to almost $11 billion per year.

(Photo: Oleksii Liskonih/iStock via Getty Images.)

Labour shortages have cost Quebec businesses close to $10.7 billion in potential revenue, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its latest research snapshot, Financial impact of labour shortages in Quebec – Estimated revenue losses incurred by small businesses in the last year.

“We knew the labour shortages were having a very negative impact on small business owners, who have to work longer hours, as do their employees, and are forced to turn down contracts and business opportunities,” said François Vincent, CFIB’s vice-president for Quebec. “Today, we can put a figure on the losses suffered by small businesses: nearly $11 billion in one year! They could have used that money to recover, grow and boost their regional economies. The worker shortage is very bad news for small business owners.”

CFIB’s estimate is based on data from a survey conducted in March. The losses incurred by small businesses were calculated using the average total revenue of a Quebec small business published by Statistics Canada for the year 2020, by sector of activity, with the analysis considering businesses with revenues between $30,000 and $5 million. With that narrow focus, CFIB says that the figures are likely a conservative estimate, although the revenue is likely to be found elsewhere in the economy.

“While the loss of sales and contracts is significant for small business owners, it’s important to note that it doesn’t necessarily mean a net loss to the province’s economy. The uninvested amounts may have been injected into different projects or may represent other expenses for small businesses, and the lost customers may have spent their money in other ways in Quebec,” explained Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB research analyst and author of the report. “Nevertheless, the shortfall comes at a very bad time after two years of a pandemic that has weakened and indebted too many small businesses.”


The lost revenues hit multiple sectors of Quebec’s economy. For example, the construction and professional and administrative services sectors indicated losses in excess of $2 billion, while wholesale and transportation sector estimates came in at a $1.2 billion loss.

More than 85 per cent of owners of small and medium-sized enterprises in the province cited lack of personnel as the most difficult issue to overcome in 2022, just after rising costs.




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