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Labour shortages key challenge for small businesses

Camilla Faragalli
Clarendon, Oct. 2, 2023
The Outaouais is seeing greater labour shortages than elsewhere in Quebec, according to a presentation from the Canadian Federation of Independent Buisinesses’ (CFIB) at last week’s Pontiac Chamber of Commerce (PCC) meeting.
The PCC held its monthly Business Association meeting on Thursday under the warm lights of the Little Red Wagon Winery in Clarendon with special guests from the CFIB, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for businesses in Canada.
“Two out of five businesses in Quebec say that they don’t have enough employees to run their businesses, but here in Outaouais it’s actually three out of five businesses. Nowhere else in Quebec is it like that,” said Benjamin Rousse, a policy analyst at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The issue is of particular concern as, according to a survey conducted by the province, small businesses are the driving economic force of the Outaouais: the proportion of companies with fewer than 50 employees makes up a whopping 95 per cent of those surveyed.
“Right now it’s very hard for businesses in Quebec in general,” Rousse said. “But in Outaouais it’s another world.”
The PCC event was one of many held across Canada this week in recognition of the country’s Small Business Week.
“You’re gaining information and information is like gold,” said PCC vice president, Todd Hoffman of the event.
“The more information you get the better. But the whole making of it is in the networking, that’s something that’s really overlooked.”
Sébastien Bonnerot, president of the PCC, said that for many small business owners in Pontiac, opportunities to network are few and far between given the vastness of the region.
“We’re actually the widest chamber of commerce in Canada in terms of kilometres – 14,000 square kilometres – so it’s not always easy to get people together, participating in events,” Bonnerot said.
“When we’re able to do something like this in the middle of the Pontiac, it’s great.”
Martin Bertrand, owner of Horizon X rafting company on Grand Calumet Island, said he attended the event to meet other entrepreneurs in the Pontiac, make new connections and see new faces.
“Back in the day I was really involved with tourism, really involved within the community and within the Chamber of Commerce as well, and it’s quite exciting to see it flourishing and doing well in the past year,” said Bertrand.
The next PCC meeting will be held in late November.

Francis Bérubé (left) and Benjamin Rousse (right) presented on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) at the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce (PCC) Business Association meeting on Thursday.

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