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10 Numbers to Know When Working in Canada

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

You’ve just received your work permit or you are about to land in Canada with the permanent residence status? Congratulations! After settling down and going through the practical steps of moving to a new country, you will probably start looking for a job.

If you are from the U.S, you will likely find the average Canadian workplace fairly familiar, with a few twists, especially regarding employment regulations. 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, (eh)!

Nonetheless, knowledge is power. Here are 10 numbers to know when working in Canada!

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 must apply for it in person at Service Canada. You will usually be given a number on the spot and will receive your SIN card a few weeks later. If your SIN begins with a “9”, it means that you are a temporary worker and you employer may ask to see your immigration papers to make sure your permit is still valid.

9-5: In an office environment, most people work “9 to 5”, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many workplaces offer some degree of flexibility and you can work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for instance, to beat rush-hour traffic or to pick up your kids from school.

8 and 40: Standard hours of work full time are generally 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week.

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 not paid so in a regular 8-hour workday, you will be paid for 7.5 hours.

6.9%: This is Canada’s unemployment rate as off October 2013, according to Statistics Canada.

4%: 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! And if you are heading abroad or “back home” during your holidays, don’t forget to check travel insurance forum for Canadians to see if you are covered.

5: 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.

$10.25 per hour: This is the minimum wage for general employees in Ontario. As of 2013, it’s $9.95 in Alberta; $10.25 in British-Colombia and in Manitoba; $10 in Saskatchewan, New-Brunswick; Prince-Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories; $9.90 in Quebec; $10.30 in Nova Scotia; $10.54 in Yukon and $11 in Nunavut.

$918.17: This is the average weekly earning in Canada according to Statistic Canada (current as of August 2013). The top earning industry is “Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction” ($1893 weekly) while in “Accommodation and food services” employees only make $364 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 that resume!

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