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Working in Canada

Your guide to expat life in Canada

Want to work 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. Expats report an excellent work-life balance in Canada, and the work environment in the country is generally happy and productive.

Business in Canada

Business is booming in Canada and its economy is robust, stable and growing. In fact, the number of jobs has increased steadily over the last few years. 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 to expats.

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 similar work environment. 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.

Managers in Canada are expected to be team players, not dictators. They tend to be friendly and will involve everyone in decision making. Be direct and succinct – and respect everyone’s opinions, regardless of their rank. In Quebec, you’ll be expected to speak some French. 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.

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

Practical details

English is widely spoken in most Canadian business circles. You’ll find more French speakers in Quebec. Business hours are usually from 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, though longer hours are common.

A handshake is the standard business greeting. Businesspeople in Quebec may greet one another with a kiss on each cheek. Business dress is usually semi-formal, but you may have to dress more formally for important meetings. Gifts aren’t expected and may be seen as inappropriate.

Expat salaries in Canada

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.

Top tips for working in Canada

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Canada.

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 or coffee! - in the first 18-24 months.

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

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it 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're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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