Labor shortages affect three out of five SMEs in Canada. This is more difficult in Quebec, where 66% of SMEs are held back by this issue. Specifically, due to lack of employees, 44% cannot fully operate and 22% simply cannot expand. This is demonstrated by the results of studies by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which follows this issue closely.
The negative impacts of labor shortages are numerous. First, with the lack of employees, nearly half of SMEs have to refuse sales and contracts. Several media articles have already covered this aspect.
But what has gone a little unnoticed is the impact of hours worked that add up and multiply for small business owners due to the lack of employees. However, it is the one most cited by Quebec entrepreneurs (72%) when we ask what the impacts of the labor shortage are.
Our entrepreneurs are resilient, visionary, committed, mobilized for the success of their business and for the economy of their region. They build our economy and work hard to make it strong and healthy. But, currently, the impacts of the labor shortage are beginning to weigh heavily and mortgage their future, and our future.
I co-authored a study that shows that Quebec entrepreneurs facing labor shortages work an average week of 60 hours, the equivalent of an eight-day week1!
Having such a rhythm can negatively affect our health, the level of stress and fatigue, and force us to put off our involvement with our loved ones until tomorrow. But also, entrepreneurs could spend those hours doing business planning or development, learning about government programs, or dealing with administrative burdens. In fact, ensure the future of their business project and act for its success.
With Quebec’s demographics, we will experience the issue of labor shortages for several more years, with a peak in 2030. Consequently, they will continue to exert pressure on SMEs and it is therefore essential to support them. to help them adjust. Governments can make a difference, in particular by increasing the available labor pool, helping SMEs improve their productivity and giving our entrepreneurs time back through regulatory and administrative relief.
In fact, cutting red tape has never played such a strategic role!
First, its weight is inversely proportional to the size of the company. Companies with fewer than five employees spend an average of 165 regulatory hours per employee each year, compared to 17 hours for companies with 100 or more employees2. With the addition of overtime caused by the lack of employees, the issue becomes more and more acute. This, in a context where smaller companies have higher vacancy rates and suffer more when they have a vacancy because it represents a larger share of their total workforce. Let’s not forget that businesses with fewer than five employees represent half of businesses (53%) in Quebec.
All levels of government can play a role in regulatory relief, including by adopting, executing and developing action plans for this purpose.
I would like to highlight the action of the Government of Quebec and Ministers Pierre Fitzgibbon and Christopher Skeete, who are showing great leadership in this file. Moreover, I have the opportunity to make a contribution as co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Regulatory and Administrative Streamlining of the Quebec Government.
We must continue this commitment to do more to reduce red tape and give back time to our entrepreneurs. I invite all elected officials to make regulatory streamlining and improving service delivery to businesses an everyday priority. Small daily changes will make a big difference to the success of our small and medium-sized businesses in Quebec, especially to help them face the challenge of the lack of employees.