The 8-day workweek: Small business owners clock in 59 hours a week to make up for labour shortages

Toronto, April 24, 2023 – The average small business owner works 54 hours a week, the equivalent of an eight-day workweek for most salaried workers, finds a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

Those who say they work more hours because of labour shortages clock in even more, about 59 hours a week, 20 of which are spent compensating for staffing challenges. That means they spend 34% of their 59-hour workweek making up for lack of employees.

“This is a lot of time that business owners could spend on other priorities such as growing their business or looking into government programs. But the impacts can also be felt outside of work. Many owners who work more hours don’t have time for family and friends, and it can affect their mental health and wellbeing,” said Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB economist and co-author of the report. 

The number of small businesses impacted by labour shortages has increased from 55% in November 2021 to 59% in September 2022, according to CFIB’s research. All provinces report that more than half of businesses are impacted, with Quebec (66%), Saskatchewan (62%) and Manitoba (62%) being the most affected by staffing challenges.

Labour shortages primarily affect the number of work hours: among businesses experiencing labour shortages, almost three-quarters (73%) reported the owners had to work more hours and 54% reported their employees had to work more hours to make up for being short-staffed. Nearly half of affected businesses also had to turn down sales and contracts (48%) or decrease their service offerings (47%).

“Instead of being captains who keep their ships on course, short-staffed business owners are having to paddle just to stay afloat,” added François Vincent, CFIB’s vice-president. “Long hours and overtime can also negatively affect employees, adding to a low morale in the workplace.”

Among the sectors, the difference is even more striking. The share of affected owners working more hours is highest in the hospitality (84%) and agriculture (82%) sectors.

“With Canada’s aging population, the shortages will get worse if our labour market approach does not change. There isn’t one-size-fits-all solution, but governments can help by implementing targeted measures such as reducing the tax burden that will allow them to invest in employee’s compensation, training, and automation. Additionally, streamlining immigration processes is key to finding the talent that small businesses can’t find right now. Finally, red tape reduction is a strategic way for governments to act to give back time to our entrepreneurs,” Vincent concluded.

Read The 8-Day Workweek report for more details.

CFIB has information and resources for small business owners who are dealing with stress and burnout. Visit the Workplace Wellness hub.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 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