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10 Numbers to Know When Working in Canada

Canadian Souvenirs, Ottawa, November 2013
Canadian Souvenirs, Ottawa, November 2013

Has your work permit just been approved? Are you about to land in Canada with the permanent residence status? Congratulations! After settling down and completing a few key steps, you will probably start looking for a job.

If you’re coming from the U.S., you’re probably going to find the average Canadian workplace fairly familiar, with a few twists, especially regarding employment regulations (yay, workers’ rights!). Newcomers from other parts of the world may experience a bigger culture shock but we all adjust in a matter of weeks or months—plus Canadians are pretty friendly.

Nonetheless, knowledge is power. Here are ten numbers to know when working in Canada.

(Updated September 2020)

Nine precious digits

It all starts here–the Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number Canadian citizen, newcomers or temporary residents require to work in Canada or to receive government benefits. You can apply online, by mail or in person.

If your SIN begins with a “9,” it means that you are a temporary worker and your employer may ask to see your work permit to make sure it’s still valid.


Most office employees work “9 to 5,” i.e. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many workplaces offer some degree of flexibility—for instance, you could choose to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to beat rush-hour traffic or pick up kids at school.

8 and 40

The standard work week (full time) is 40 hours (eight hours a day).

30 minutes

Employers are required to provide eating periods (lunch breaks) to employees.

An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period free from work.

Lunch breaks are unpaid, so for a regular 8-hour work day, you will be paid for 7.5 hours.


This is Canada’s unemployment rate as of May 2020, according to Statistics Canada. Yay, COVID…


Employers calculate 4% (except in Saskatchewan where it is 6%) of each pay cheque towards vacation pay, unless they wish to give the employees more.

Employees get at least two weeks of paid holidays per 12-month working period. And no, that’s not a lot of time off!


This is the number of statutory holidays per year.

In Canada, five days are celebrated nationwide and are paid days off for employees–New Year’s Day, Good Friday (Easter), Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day.

Federally regulated employees also get Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Thanksgiving and Boxing Day off—some non-federal employees also get these holidays off as well.


This is the average minimum wage across Canada for general employees.

As of 2020, the minimum wage is:

  • $16 in Nunavut
  • $15 in Alberta
  • $14 in Ontario
  • $13.71 in Yukon
  • $13.46 in the Northwest Territories
  • $12.65 in British-Colombia
  • $12.55 in Nova Scotia
  • $12.50 in Quebec
  • $12.15 in Prince-Edward Island
  • $11.70 in New Brunswick
  • $11.65 in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • $11.65 in Manitoba
  • $10.96 in Saskatchewan


This is the average weekly earnings in 2019 in Canada according to Statistics Canada.

The top-earning industry is “Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction” ($1741.79 weekly) while in “Accommodation and food services” employees only make $490.47 per week.

Two weeks

Giving two weeks’ notice is the standard practice when resigning from a job.

Because Canadian employers rely on the reference system, it’s important to not burn bridges when you leave a position. Submit your letter of resignation at least two weeks before your last day and try to ease the transition by leaving a “clean desk” or assigning any ongoing project.

Some (bad) employers do not let you work your notice period and would rather escort employees who submit a resignation letter to the parking lot. Be warned!

Ready to work? Go proof your resume!

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