PEI

Labour shortage hitting small business in Atlantic Canada, says CFIB

Labour shortages in Atlantic Canada have some small businesses thinking of cancelling expansion plans or even cutting back on products and services, according to a new members survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

'It's a different kind of topic'

The difficulty of finding workers is starting to have an impact on small business in Atlantic Canada, says CFIB. (CBC)

Labour shortages in Atlantic Canada have some small businesses thinking of cancelling expansion plans or even cutting back on products and services, according to a new members survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Erin McGrath-Gaudet, director for P.E.I. and intergovernmental policy for CFIB, acknowledged it seems odd to talk about labour shortages in the region.

"It's kind of a different topic because we're so used to talking about high unemployment," said McGrath-Gaudet.

"More and more they're really struggling to find the workers that they need in or to grow and expand and frankly sometimes just to keep their doors open."

A recent survey by CFIB of its members in the region found 22 per cent were considering cancelling expansion plans, and 16 per cent were thinking of offering fewer products and services, because they can't find the workers they need.

Broader immigration programs needed

McGrath-Gaudet said governments need to reconsider how immigration programs are working.

"One of the challenges that we see with immigration schemes across the country, frankly, is there tends to be a lot of emphasis on highly-educated, highly skilled workers," she said.

Immigration programs could be doing more to attract needed workers, says Erin McGrath-Gaudet. (CBC)

While there is a need for those workers, she said, there is also a need for entry-level workers.

With the region's native population aging and retiring, McGrath-Gaudet said there needs to be more consideration of how immigration programs work to fill labour needs.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot has been an improvement, she said, but it has been limited in its scope.

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With files from Laura Chapin

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