· Features

A postcard from... Canada

Our 'postcard from' series keeps you updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

Canada is one of the world’swealthiest nations, and is a memberof the Group of Seven (G7). International trade makes up a large part of the Canadian economy, with agriculture, energy, forestry and mining exports accounting for the majority.

The service sector in Canada is also of great importance to the economy, employing about three-quarters of Canadians and accounting for 70% of GDP.

Canada is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating a trade bloc with Mexico and the US. However, US president Donald Trump has expressed strong disapproval of the agreement, indicating that the US may look to withdraw from or renegotiate its position in the bloc in the future.


Canada has a population of around 36.5 million. It is a highly multicultural society; approximately 41% of current Canadians are first- or second-generation immigrants, and 20% of Canadian residents in 2000 were not born in the country.

Canada has two national languages: Canadian English and Canadian French. Most French speakers are concentrated in Quebec.

Legal lowdown

Canada is divided into 13 administrative divisions: 10 provinces and three territories. Most labour regulation is conducted at the provincial level by government agencies and boards, rather than by the federal government.

However, the Canadian constitution grants exclusive federal jurisdiction over employment in specific industries such as banking, radio and TV broadcasting.

While British citizens do not need a visa to enter Canada, they must obtain electronic travel authorisation (eTA) and be able to prove they can financially support their stay. To work in the country a permit must be approved.

From the HR frontline

Eugenio Pirri, chief people and culture officer at luxury hotel chain Dorchester Collection, grew up in Canada and worked in HR there for eight years. “The cost of living in Canada is very high so companies are carefully considering wages, benefits and rewards,” he told HR magazine. “Additionally, issues such as diversity and equality are very high on the agenda. Canada has a reputation for being a nice place to work, so a lot of responsibility is placed on HR to live up to that.”

He added that Canada is a very diverse nation. “In a country with an official second language, an Asian influence on the West coast, a Western influence on the East coast, and a huge amount of immigration, it is important to respect different cultures,” he said. “Even if they aren’t prevalent in the province where you’re working they’ll have an impact on federal laws.”