(Toronto) The average owner of a small or medium-sized business works the equivalent of an eight-day workweek due to staff shortages, particularly in Western Canada, new Federation research revealed Monday. Canada of Independent Business (CFIB).

According to the report, which is based on a survey of CFIB members last September, 59% of SMEs in Canada were affected by labor shortages, forcing the average owner to work 54 hours a week. to compensate.

“Owners must work more hours, or they must choose to have their employees work more hours,” explained Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB economist and co-author of the report.

“They have to refuse sales contracts and reduce service offers. They are diverted from developing and implementing strategies to improve and grow their business, so this is really a problem. »

The study indicates that the problem is getting worse. The proportion of SMEs affected by labor shortages was 55% in November 2021.

Among businesses experiencing a labor shortage, nearly three-quarters said owners needed to work longer hours and 54% said their employees needed to work longer hours to make up for the lack of staff.

Bomal said the problem is particularly prevalent in the West, where 76% of Alberta small business owners affected by labor shortages are working longer hours as a result. After Alberta came Manitoba and British Columbia, with 75% of small business owners short of staff.

By sector, the share of owners working more hours to make up for staff shortages was 84% ​​in hospitality and 82% in agriculture.

“What I didn’t really expect was that the number of hours would be so high,” said Ms. Bomal, who discussed potential solutions.

“We know there is a real need to increase the labor pool. We can, for example, target older workers or simplify or improve immigration processes. »

She added that policymakers could also seek to free up time for business owners by cutting red tape or boosting productivity.

“For example, we can introduce tax credits to boost automation,” Ms. Bomal explained.

In its September 2022 Labor Force Survey, Statistics Canada found that full-time and part-time Canadian employees over the age of 15 typically worked 35.6 hours per week. This means that small business owners work 50% more than average employees, according to the report.