Labour shortages: Small businesses need training and flexibility, not taxes

Montréal, November 14, 2022 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has released a Research Snapshot on training in small businesses in Quebec. Survey data shows that, due to the labour shortage, nearly one in three small businesses have been investing more in formal training and close to 50% in informal training.

“An overwhelming majority of small business owners believe training is a significant investment, but also think it has a positive impact on productivity. In the context of the current labour shortage, training is key for small businesses and features prominently in their strategies. However, they are facing a particularly difficult reality. Business owners are forced to turn down contracts, while working longer hours as well as their employees. Business costs are also on the rise, which puts further pressure on their budgets. Small businesses need lower business costs and increased flexibility to be able to ramp up their training efforts. We already know that restrictive measures are ineffective and counterproductive,” explained François Vincent, Vice-President, Quebec at CFIB.

Highlights of the Research Snapshot:

  • 84% of small business owners think that training has a positive impact on their productivity.
  • 83% of small business owners believe that training is a significant investment.
  • 71% of small business owners said that reducing business costs (e.g. taxes, premiums) is the best way to help them invest in formal/informal training for their employees.
  • Two thirds (67%) of small business owners are in favour of abolishing the 1% contribution to the Quebec government’s Workforce Skills Development and Recognition Fund (1% Law).
  • 30% of small business owners say they are investing more in formal training and 42% in informal training in a bid to make up for the labour shortage.
  • Only a quarter (26%) of small business owners said they were aware of Quebec government programs and initiatives to help them find and train staff.
  • A similar proportion (25%) of small business owners said that existing measures put in place by the Quebec government (training tax credit, tax relief, programs, etc.) encourage them to invest in the training, reskilling and upskilling of their staff.

“It is no surprise that a significant number of small businesses support abolishing the 1% Law’s payroll tax. This one-size-fits-all policy fails to consider businesses’ financial situation or actual training needs. The government should be working on reforming the law,” explained Francis Bérubé, Director of Provincial Affairs for Quebec at CFIB.

Improving awareness: a key element of programs’ success

The results of CFIB’s study show a lack of awareness about the programs created to help small businesses train their staff and overcome labour shortages. In fact, only a quarter of small business owners are aware of the programs and initiatives in place. Therefore, CFIB is recommending that the government ensure the continuity of its actions regarding small businesses in order to improve the visibility of existing programs and inform owners of how to take advantage of them.

“The measures taken by the government are positive, but it has to take action and further spread awareness of the tools that are at our entrepreneurs’ disposal. The Minister of Employment and the Quebec government can count on our full cooperation in working toward this goal,” concluded François Vincent.

Click here to see CFIB’s report: Training in the midst of a labour shortage: Understanding what small businesses need in order to better equip them.

Study design
The data collected for the purposes of this research report was mainly drawn from an omnibus Your Voice survey of 406 small business owners in Quebec conducted by CFIB from April 8 to 22, 2022. The margin of error for a probability sample of the same size (for comparison purposes only) is +/- 4.9%, 19 times out of 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Maud Larivière, Media Relations Officer, CFIB
Phone: 514-861-3234| Cell.: 514-817-0228

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at