Canadian small businesses have lost more than $38 billion potential revenue because they had to decline contracts due to labour shortages, according to a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

Businesses had to either turn down or postpone contracts or sales in 2022 because they lacked the workers to complete the jobs, the business group reported on Wednesday. The CFIB gathered data for the report by surveying 97,000 of its member businesses across Canada.


Small operators in the construction sector lost the most business opportunities, the report highlighted, pegging the loss at $9.6 billion in 2022. 

"We always knew labour shortages came at a high price to small businesses," CFIB economist Laure-Anna Bomal said in a news release on the findings. 

“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.”


The organization suggested government policies that could help battle labour shortages, including work-integrated learning programs in high schools and labour mobility access programs. It also suggested a tax policy or tax credit to support “career extension”

"In the long run, the shortages will get worse, as will their costs, unless we change our labour market approach," Christina Santini, national affairs director at the CFIB, said in a written statement. 

"We urge governments to find innovative ways to increase participation in the labour market among all age groups.”