The Canadian workplace

Canada is a diverse country where people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and religions respect each other and work together peacefully. Before you come to Canada, it’s important to understand what to expect in the Canadian workplace so you can work effectively and successfully with others.

The Employment and Social Development Canada website explains equality, rights and freedoms in Canada. The work of Lionel Laroche, an internationally renowned expert on immigration and integrating into Canadian society, offers a valuable perspective on some of the challenges and surprises people face when entering the Canadian workforce, as well as ideas on how to succeed. Laroche also has YouTube videos to help you learn more about workplace communications.

Workplace cultures and behaviour

Workplace culture consists of the attitudes, behaviours and actions considered acceptable at a place of work. It includes how you greet others, the clothes you wear, personal hygiene, how and what you eat, appropriate topics of conversation, and more. Online searches for terms such as “Canadian business etiquette” or “Canadian manners, practices or culture” may help you find out more about what to expect.

Workplace behaviour is governed by the Canadian Employment Standards Legislation. These Canadian laws help protect workers by setting minimum employment standards, including rules for equal pay, normal working hours, vacation times with pay, health and safety and more.

Multiculturalism and religious freedom

People of different cultures, beliefs, and religions are welcomed and accepted in Canada. This multiculturalism is celebrated and promoted, so you must be able to listen to what other people say and accept that you may have different viewpoints. To learn more about this aspect of living in Canada, you can visit Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Equal opportunities for women and men

Men and women are equals in the Canadian workforce, given the same opportunities for hiring and promotion. All individuals have the same rights and can work at any job for which they have the skills, experience, and education. Both men and women work in supervisory roles and expect to be treated with the same degree of respect regardless of gender.

If you want to know more about women in the Canadian workplace, you can read Statistics Canada’s report, Women in Canada: Work Chapter Updates.

To learn more about equality, rights, and freedoms in Canada, you can visit Employment and Social Development Canada, the government department that promotes workplace equality.

Expectations about communication in the workplace

While being fluent in English or French is important in Canada, you also need to be able to communicate in an appropriate and professional way. Here are some tips to help you be an effective communicator in the Canadian workplace:

  • Ask your employer, other successful professionals, friends, and family to help you understand the Canadian workplace and culture.
  • Pay attention to how others react to what you say and do, and ask for help if their reaction doesn’t seem right to you.
  • If you’re not sure you understand what someone is saying, ask them to explain exactly what they mean.

Building language competency takes time, and it is important to practise. You should feel free to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. People will generally respect this, and it may help you avoid large or costly mistakes that can occur when things are not fully understood.

More information about the immigration experience can be found at MOSAIC.

Related Information

Find your provincial or territorial regulator

To work as a professional engineer in one of Canada's provinces or territories, you must receive a licence from that province or territory's engineering association.