Excerpted from the Canada Career Guide
Canada is one of the world's most prosperous and least densely inhabited countries. It is a multicultural nation with a high rate and long history of immigration. The Canadian Multicultural Act of 1988 “recognize[s] and promote[s] the understanding that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada's future.”
The original inhabitants of Canada were numerous aboriginal tribes, such as the Huron-Wendat, Cree, Dene, Iroquois, Sioux and Inuit. There is archeological evidence of Viking exploration and temporary settlement in Labrador and Newfoundland prior to permanent European settlement. John Cabot was the first European to initiate a modern settlement during an expedition in 1497, claiming the east coast of Canada for England. The English, however, did not settle Canada until 1610.
Quite simply, Canadians are crazy about sports and outdoor activities. Ice hockey and Lacrosse, an aboriginal game, are immensely popular sports in Canada, with the former being something of an unofficial national religion. Canadian football, curling and soccer are other popular sports. Opportunities for outdoor adventure are numerous, from hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and camping to expeditions in the North.
Office hours usually run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; however, it is common to see workers arriving early or staying late, and many managers are expected to put in overtime. Some employers also offer ‘flex-time’ work schedules, allowing employees to manage their own 40-hour work week. Very rarely will employees come to work on Saturday; they are more likely to stay later during the week to ensure they have a two-day weekend.
Communications in the workplace are relatively formal, as Canadians are very politically correct and concerned with fairness. Engaging in small talk to begin a conversation in a business setting is common in Canada. Neutral topics like the weather, vacations or sports (especially hockey or golf) are preferred. Canadians will often also ask “What do you do?” since work is important to them. Topics that should be avoided on initial contact are salaries, personal finances, religion, politics, language issues or the separatist movement. Canadians are keen travelers and thus may ask about other cultures and countries. Many Canadians prefer to keep their personal lives separate from work and will avoid discussing personal matters (marriage, children) with business associates until a close relationship has been established.
Management styles vary widely in Canada, depending upon the industry. Most commonly, managers are informal and friendly, wishing to be seen as part of the group. The exception is in Quebec, where greater respect is shown to rank and hierarchy. Interpersonal and management skills are considered to be of vital importance to the Canadian manager. Managers are expected to be decisive and able to quickly make a decision; however, an authoritarian or paternalistic style is not desirable. Credentials are becoming increasingly important in Canada as the job market grows more competitive.
Conducting a Meeting
Appointments are recommended in advance of any meeting and are often confirmed the day before. Morning is the preferred time of day for meetings, with few held on Friday afternoons or weekends.
Letters of introduction are helpful, especially for travel or immigration purposes, and it is appropriate to present a business card at an introduction. In Quebec, business cards should be translated into French and offered with the French side facing the recipient.
Canadians are generally less assertive than Americans when it comes to business discussions, and take a far more low-key approach. They generally dislike negotiations and aggressive sales techniques. One can expect negotiations to proceed at a fast pace with little bargaining. Canadians value low-key sales presentations and are generally interested in finding a ‘win-win’ solution during negotiations. Most Canadians are resistant to the ‘hard-sell’ and irritated by harassment from business associates.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Canada Guide.