Working in Toronto
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Find out how to get a job and work in Toronto
Working in Toronto is a great career choice — not only for expats in the financial sector! The IT and communications sectors, among others, have opened up new employment opportunities in Toronto in recent years. Our Relocation Guide has the key facts and figures on Toronto’s economy!
Employment in Toronto
At a Glance:
- Toronto’s GDP tops 304 billion USD. It is also home to the headquarters of five of Canada’s biggest banks.
- There are many opportunities for work in Toronto and career prospects are excellent.
- The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is the preferred option for expats relocating to Canada.
- A positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is necessary to process your work permit.
- Applying for your Social Insurance Number is essential before starting a new job.
The fact that Toronto provides a more than favorable setting for careers in various sectors is hardly a secret. After a sharp decline during the worldwide financial crisis at the end of the last decade, the region has managed to bounce back very quickly.
Toronto’s Economy: Promising Career Options
Being employed in Toronto for a number of years is a great career option for people in the financial sector, as the city is home to one of the world’s largest financial districts (located mostly on Bay Street). The city is also a major entertainment and media hub, particularly for the advertisement and film industries. Many Hollywood movies are actually produced by companies with offices and subsidiaries in Toronto. While many industrial operations have moved out of the city proper, a lot of companies make a point out of maintaining their Toronto-based headquarters.
Toronto has to be seen as part of a larger economy that goes beyond the city limits: the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA for short, contributes a large share to the national GDP (around 10%) and its GDP tops 304 billion USD. Moreover, Toronto is home to almost 40% of Canadian corporate headquarters and all five of Canada’s biggest banks are located there. The GTA prides itself of having a diverse and varied economy, and the many employment opportunities for expats in Toronto’s neighboring areas confirm this.
If you are looking for employment in the finance sector, your number one option will still be working in Toronto, but many other industries have relocated outside of the city limits. Toronto’s adjacent municipalities hold great opportunities for people looking to work in fields such as IT, communications, software development, automotive manufacturing, and many more. The information technology and software sectors in particular have steadily grown for a number of years. Almost half of the nation’s manufactured goods are produced in Toronto and its surrounding area.
Opportunities for working in Toronto as an expat are plentiful — if you are lucky enough to work within a field where there is a skill shortage in the area. If not, things will quickly become a bit more complicated. Competition is fierce, and the influx of Canadian citizens, immigrants, and expats with hopes of working in Toronto is considerable.
As we have highlighted in our article on working in Canada and part two of this article, a very convenient and safe method of securing a job in Toronto is the intra-company transfer. Chances are that if you are employed with a large multinational company, they will either have an office or subsidiary in Toronto, or might be thinking of making the move there. The Ontario government offers a number of highly attractive incentives for companies interested in investing in the GTA and the rest of the province. To further sweeten the deal, statistics have shown that, with trimmed and leaner bureaucracy involved, setting up shop and working in Toronto and Ontario has gotten a lot easier.
Keep an Eye Out for the Right Opportunity!
As the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is the preferred option for expats interested in relocating to Canada, your first step is to find an employer who is willing to offer you a contract. However, as many an expat in Toronto will be able to tell you, the best jobs are often not available to those coming to the city from abroad. The reason is quite simple: If you have not been working in Toronto, thus establishing a network of business contacts around town, chances are that you will not even hear of the employment possibilities advertised on a word-of-mouth basis.
Many of the most lucrative jobs are not publicly advertised. Time is money, and putting up ads for new openings consumes both. If you happen to have connections in the city, whether they are friends, former colleagues, or business partners, it might be a good idea to ask them about possible opportunities to start working in Toronto.
If this option is not open to you, you will have to tackle the task of working in Toronto the “old-fashioned” way: browsing the internet editions of large local newspapers (e.g. Toronto Sun) or checking various online job portals (e.g. Workopolis and Jobs in Toronto).
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Expat Business Info Toronto
Prerequisite: Your Work Permit
The most common way of becoming an expat is acquiring a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The requirements are fairly simple, as the main prerequisite for the work permit is an employment contract from a company in Toronto. However, keep in mind that the permit is bound to the particular employer you originally signed with. If, for whichever reasons, your first try does not quite work out and you would like to change jobs, you have to reapply for a new work permit.
Once you have found an employer in Toronto who would like to work with you, they have to apply for and obtain a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before your work permit application can be processed. The LMIA, issued by Employment and Social Development (ESDC), assesses the availability of qualified local personnel for the particular position you have applied for, and whether or not Toronto’s economy can profit from your manpower.
The intra-company transfer is another popular option for expats. Much of the bureaucracy of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is cut out of the process of transferring within your company to one of its Toronto-based subsidiaries. An LMIA is no longer necessary. The intra-company transfer is particularly popular with employees in executive or management level positions and those with highly specialized skills.
Need Your Qualifications Accredited?
Unfortunately, acquiring a work permit and qualifying for legal immigration to Toronto does not mean that your credentials, whether in terms of work experience, professional knowledge, or education, are automatically going to be recognized in your new home country. In some cases, there might also be the possibility of credentials not being up to the national standards in Canada.
In order to deal with the task of assessing and accrediting the professional credentials of foreigners, the CIC set up a subdivision devoted solely to this matter: the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO). Seeing how the assessment costs both time and money, it might be a good idea to contact the FCRO as soon as you have made up your mind and decided you want to relocate to Toronto. Even if your future employer does not require you to include your assessed credentials with your resume — which some of them definitely do — it will be a testament to your dedication.
High Priority Level: Your Social Insurance Number
One of the most important administrative matters you have to take care of before starting your new job is applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Without it, you will not be able to take up legal employment or gain access to government programs and benefits. However, you should always remember that your SIN is strictly confidential and should not be shared with anyone unless it is necessary. A list of events and institutions that might require info on your SIN is provided on the Service Canada website.
Luckily, the application process is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is gather the necessary documents — once again, listed on the very comprehensive website of Service Canada — and head to your nearest Service Canada Centre. There are several centers in Toronto and neighboring municipalities, so this task should not be much of an inconvenience.
Apart from the obvious fact that sound English skills are indispensable for any career in Toronto, having good command, or at least basic knowledge, of additional languages is definitely an asset in the city’s diverse business environment. French has a special status in all of Canada, as the country is officially bilingual. Street signs, grocery labels, and virtually every other piece of writing you may encounter in your daily life will be in both English and French. While you most certainly will not encounter any difficulties if your knowledge of French is limited or nonexistent, it always pays off to know at least a few common phrases.