Working in Canada
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Find out how to get a job and work in Canada
As you will surely know as a potential expat, working in Canada has lost none of its pull in the past few decades. Prospects of an expat job lead many to the Great White North. The InterNations GO! Guide offers you essential info on visas, social security, and professional skills needed in Canada!
Employment in Canada
At a Glance:
- Work permits are only given with a confirmed job offer.
- The services sector tends to have the greatest number of good positions.
- The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is vital for a work permit unless you transfer with your current company.
- ‟Medicare” is Canada’s state-funded health insurance plan.
Working in the True North for one, two or five years is the dream of many adventurers and global minds worldwide. Some fulfill this dream on their own, as self-made expats. Others are sent by their companies to assume a position in Canada, be it as an engineer developing new extraction methods for oil and gas or as a transferee in the banking sector.
Being employed in Canada means participating in one of the world’s leading economies. The country offers a strong service sector, a good infrastructure for next-generation technology, as well as copious amounts of natural resources. There are plenty of opportunities in Canada for expats with professional qualifications.
Entering Canada the Hard Way: Self-Made Expats
Being a self-made expat is not as straightforward as you may imagine. Permits are only issued for a confirmed job offer. Those with skills and professional experience in the service sector, especially telecommunications, finance and insurance, IT or high-tech, usually have the best chance of finding attractive positions.
All those who intend to work in Canada, no matter in what field, should be fluent in either English or French, depending on the province where they will be working: a job in Québec requires a good command of the French language.
Visa Requirements: There’s a Lot to Take Care Of
To be considered under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, your Canadian employer may have to apply for the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to show that there is a need for a foreign worker and that there are no Canadian workers available to do the job. In this assessment, factors such as the availability of locals for the job and the economic benefit of your employment are taken into account.
If the LMIA is positive, nothing stands between you and your temporary work permit for Canada. Expats should keep in mind that a work permit is only valid for the specific position you have applied for: it is not a general permission for working in Canada. For more information on visa requirements, please read our article on moving to Canada.
The Simple Way: Intra-Company Transferees
If you merely transfer within your current company, the procedure becomes much easier. A “Labour Market Impact Assessment” is no longer required, and the process speeds up considerably. Intra-company transfers of this kind are possible for executive or management positions and workers with specialized skills.
Other possibilities for working in Canada include the Young Workers Program and the Work and Travel category. The latter gives young people between 18 and 35 the chance to discover Canada while working there for 12 months. Read more about the Young Workers Program on the next page.
Working in Order to Stay
If you do not want to leave Canada behind after a couple of years, but would like to make the country your new permanent home, the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class are the categories you should look at.
Candidates are evaluated according to criteria such as education, professional experience, and language skills. Successful applicants have the chance to become permanent residents and start working in Canada.
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Expat Business Info Canada
What to Begin With: Social Security
In Canada expats enjoy a fairly comprehensive social security system, although not all existing benefits apply to non-permanent residents working in Canada. Canadian welfare policies consist of tax-financed measures, mandatory schemes as well as private savings.
Social security schemes include employment insurance, with mandatory contributions from both employer and employee. Some provinces also have a mandatory Worker’s Compensation scheme, to which only employers have to contribute.
Making Provisions: Your Pension Plan
Concerning retirement provisions, there is a public retirement plan, consisting of two separate components. The first part is the Old Age Security Pension (OAS), a basic, tax-financed pension intended to cover basic needs. Only Canadian nationals and legal residents who have lived and worked in Canada for a minimum of ten years receive this pension.
The second component, the so-called Canada Pension Plan (or Québec Pension Plan in the province of Québec), is financed with equal contributions from both employee and employer. It is supposed to cover around 25% of the former income during retirement. Private savings and additional company retirement plans account for the remaining funds.
Health Insurance — Are You Covered?
As opposed to its southern neighbor, the United States, Canada supplies its citizens with a state-funded health insurance plan, the so-called “Medicare”. This insurance covers basic medical care, and is financed by taxes, fees and monthly premiums.
Expats whose work permit is valid for more than six months are usually included in the public healthcare system. Most expat family members, however, are not covered under Medicare and need private health insurance. Canada has a number of social security agreements with other countries in order to eliminate dual social security taxation and fill gaps in benefit provisions for people who have worked abroad. Expats are advised to check the respective agreement with their home country.
English and French — Canada’s Two Official Languages
Canada has two official languages: English and French. While French is the official language in Québec, all other provinces use English as their main language. When moving to Canada, expats should speak the respective language of the province where they will be living. Although Canada is officially bilingual, the second language (French) plays virtually no role in daily life outside of Québec. Public services are available in English and French throughout the country, though.
In the business world, speaking both languages can be a huge advantage, as many companies operate in both Québec and the English-speaking provinces. Those planning to live and work in Québec should know that Québecois French may be very different from the variety of French spoken in France.
Business Etiquette — Behaving in a Proper Manner
As far as social etiquette is concerned, both in the business world and in everyday life, things are usually much more informal than in other countries. It is common to move to a first-name basis very quickly. If in doubt, though, you should always wait for the other person to invite you to do so. Honorific titles are usually not used at all.
Table manners are relatively relaxed too, even if you attend an official business dinner. One more thing to note: Canadians normally leave doors open. Therefore, if someone closes a door, it means that they do not want to be disturbed. It would be considered very rude to open the door without invitation, i.e. knocking first.
Again, It’s Slightly Different in Québec
As with so many other things, what holds true for the rest of Canada does not necessarily apply to Québec. Social etiquette tends to be slightly more formal here. Generally speaking, you should address everyone with a polite “Monsieur” or “Madame”. Academic titles are important and should always be used as well. Table manners are also more formal, and it is common to greet someone by lightly kissing them on the cheeks, instead of the usual handshake.