By: Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy
Small business owners deserve our admiration. These entrepreneurs are risk takers, driven, resilient and innovative. Further, small- and medium-sized businesses are significant contributors to the Canadian economy. For context, in 2021, small businesses made up 98.1% of all employer businesses in Canada. In addition, small businesses employed 10.3 million individuals in Canada – almost two-thirds (63.8%) of the total labour force.
As such, small businesses play an important role in employing Canadians and are a significant driver towards economic recovery.
The disruption unleashed by COVID that impacted every sector of the economy, has only been amplified by supply chain security and economic slowdowns.
In fact, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), the outlook for Canadian businesses weakened noticeably in the third quarter. Businesses expect sales and hiring to slow in the near term while inflation remains the top concern with cost pressures rising.
Businesses are also feeling the pain from higher rates, which are exacerbating cost pressures and debt constraints. With cost challenges remaining prevalent, profits are expected to shrink.
As a result, Canada’s business environment is undergoing a significant transformation. These factors accompanied by technological advancements are going to change the approach to how business will operate as well as the talent required for this workforce.
Oakville employers continue to cite attracting and retaining talent as a barrier to their competitiveness. We, at the Oakville Chamber continue to advocate for workforce development programs to address the potential future skills gap that industry will potentially face. Moreover, the continuous learning of skills and upskilling will be prevalent in future positions.
Our world is also becoming increasingly digital, changing how businesses create products and provide services. Data is transforming our economy and society. Advances in digital technology allow organizations to gather and store ever more data, enabling smarter and faster decisions that increase productivity and contribute to economic growth.
Without exception, Canadian companies regard the emerging data-driven economy as an enormous opportunity to grow and compete globally. 
Many of these transformational changes and the acceleration of digitization were heightened by the pandemic. This changing environment will undoubtedly bring with it challenges but also many opportunities for future leaders as well as the potential to reshape Canada’s economy once again.
The Oakville Chamber will continue to work with the business community, government and our post-secondary institutions on education, job training and labour market policies as we continue to prepare for the digital economy and to enable workers to transition to the jobs of the future.