Adventures in Canada – What to Know When Implementing a Staffing Program in Canada

Canadian FlagI am currently located in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, implementing a staffing program at a brand new, 500,000+ square foot distribution center for our client, a leading online retailer.

Although there are many similarities between the United States and Canada, there are many differences that affect recruiting and hiring practices.

Based on our experiences, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to recruiting and staffing programs in Canada:


  • Hiring processes in Canada are very different. Associates do not need proof of citizenship and are not required to fill out much of the paperwork that you find in the U.S., such as form I-9. However, associates do require an employment contract and must be provided with an offer letter before starting work.
  • Drug testing is not allowed. Canadian laws have an increased focus on maintaining employee rights and confidentiality that may be taken for granted in the U.S.
  • While background checks are permissible, the results are not available as quickly or easily as they are in the States. If an associate’s background check is returned with a hit, the associate must go to the local police station and pay a fee of $30 to get the specific information that was turned up in the background check. Background checks are also processed much slower in Canada. They can take up to six months to complete.
  • Holiday and vacation time are also very important. Vacation time, for example, is accrued at two weeks yearly in accordance with Canadian law. It is also extremely frowned upon to terminate any associate during the month of December!

When implementing a staffing program in any new region or country thorough due diligence for appropriate program localization it is always important. Differences in payroll processes, recruitment resources and overall strategy need to be accounted for when creating a roll-out plan.

So what other differences have I noticed here?

There are no plastic jugs of milk at the supermarkets; Canadians prefer to purchase their milk in plastic bags which most of our team has found comical.