Working in Canada

Canada has an abundance of natural resources, including offshore gas reserves and onshore oil sands. As a result, there are plenty of jobs in the energy sector, as well as the country’s thriving finance, real estate and communications industries.

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Doing business

Business is booming in Canada and its growing economy has weathered the recent financial storms faced by the Western world. In fact, the number of jobs has increased over the past few years.

In The World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Survey, Canada was ranked 18th out of 190 countries, scoring particularly well in categories like starting a business and protecting minority investors.

With strong export ties to emerging Asian superpowers, the country is stable – and always looking for expats to fill skills gaps in key industries. Although you may have to deal with some bureaucracy, the working environment tends to be open and welcoming for expats.

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Business culture

While you shouldn’t assume that business in Canada operates in exactly the same way as the United States and other Western countries, it has a very similar work environment. You may come across bigger cultural differences in French-speaking Quebec.

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Communication style

Be direct and succinct – and respect everyone’s opinions, no matter what their rank. In Quebec, you’ll be expected to speak some French.

Meetings

Always be punctual and greet your associates with a handshake and steady eye contact. Avoid personal discussions at meetings. And bear in mind that some companies have a scent-free policy in the workplace.

Business lunches

Drinking alcohol at business lunches is inappropriate. If you’re invited out to dinner, it’s considered rude to refuse without a good reason.

Management style

Managers in Canada are expected to be team players, not dictators. They tend to be friendly and will involve everyone in decision-making.

Fast facts

Business language

English is widely spoken in most Canadian business circles. You’ll find more French speakers in Quebec.

Business hours

Usually from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Longer hours are common.

Greeting

A handshake is the standard business greeting. Businesspeople in Quebec may greet one another with a kiss on each cheek.

Dress

Business dress is usually semi-formal, but you may have to dress more formally for important meetings.

Gifts

Gifts aren’t expected and may be seen as inappropriate.

Gender equality

Women have the same rights as men – and an increasing number are being appointed to top-level positions. Despite this, many women still earn less than their male counterparts.

Expat salaries

Because the Canadian dollar is so strong, expat salaries tend to be higher than in the UK and USA. The highest paid sectors are mining, oil/gas drilling and telecommunications.

Canada is a series of 'forts' with micro-job markets in each major city, so choose your initial location with care. Canadians are often more insular than the British, so don't expect drinks after work or initiations to colleagues' houses (even for tea / coffee!) in the first 18 -24 months.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in June 2018. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.