So, your business has been growing steadily, and you’re now on the lookout for new opportunities. What will your next move be? And which new market are you eager to conquer?

Home to Niagara Falls, ice hockey and maple syrup — as well as the tempting business hubs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — Canada has plenty to offer budding companies from the US and elsewhere in the world that have their sights set on international business expansion.

Here’s why you should consider making the Great White North the next stop on your global expansion journey and some of the roadblocks to watch out for along the way.

Why put Canada on the table?

As you’d expect from a country dubbed the ‘start-up mecca to rival Silicon Valley’, Canada boasts a wealthy and high-tech industrial society. One of the few countries not to be affected by the 2008 financial crisis, Canada has been progressing steadily for some time and is now considered among the world’s top 10 economies, with further growth forecasted over the next decade.

Combined with the friendly, inclusive nature of Canada’s inhabitants, this economic stability and calm political landscape make the nation even more appealing to foreign investors seeking a reliable location to gain a foothold.

Starting a business in Canada is also relatively easy (at least compared to many other countries). This is in no small part thanks to its low corporate tax rate of just 15% and the various grants, loans and incentives available (including the Start-Up Visa Program for foreign business owners). The cost of operations is also comparatively cheaper than most places worldwide, and when it comes to trade, Canada enjoys various agreements with other countries — including the US, Mexico and the EU.

UK and US-based businesses will also find many of Canada’s corporate traditions and customs reassuringly familiar. Canada’s market-oriented system and production patterns resemble the US, while the country’s legal system is based on British laws. English is also spoken across the country, making it easier to acclimatise (although almost 30% of Canadians speak French, which has achieved a growing status as a business language in recent years).

If you’re looking to hire in Canada, you’ll also be spoilt with a huge pool of highly educated talent (the most educated talent in the world, to be precise). And if you’d rather bring existing employees over from other countries, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them, thanks to Canada’s consistently high quality-of-life rankings.

Employing in Canada

Of course, when it comes to global expansion and employing people abroad, you’re likely to encounter a few roadblocks and diversions along the way. And by roadblocks and diversions, we mainly mean local labour laws and restrictions.

Like any country, Canada has unique employment rules and customs, so it’s essential to understand what they are and how they impact your business and employees. What’s more, Canada is a federal state comprised of ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec and Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon).

Herein lies the key challenge: labour laws in Canada are dictated by each province, meaning employee contracts will differ depending on where you choose to expand.

Provincial regulations

Did you know that employees in Québec must be able to communicate in French? Or that everything — from contracts to employee handbooks — must be made available in French?

The Canadian social security system also covers all provinces, excluding Québec, which has its own system. In most provinces, employers must take Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deductions from their employees’ pay. In Québec, employers deduct Québec Pension Plan (QPP) contributions instead (and the contribution rates for QPP are higher than those for CPP).

When it comes to maternity and parental leave, a pregnant employee is entitled to up to 17 weeks of maternity leave (18 weeks in Québec). Employees can also take up to 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave (or 65 weeks in Québec) after the child’s birth.

Suppose the employer chooses to terminate a position. In that case, they must either provide the employee with at least two weeks’ written notice or pay the employee two weeks’ regular wages in lieu of notice. With the exception of Québec, where the notice period varies depending on the length of the employee’s uninterrupted service…

Are you sensing a theme here?

However, although Québec is the exception to many labour laws, this is not always the case. For example, in all provinces (including Québec), employees are entitled to at least two weeks of vacation per year. But not in Saskatchewan; employees are entitled to three weeks of leave per year there.

See how things can get a little complicated and confusing? That’s where a professional employer organisation (PEO) comes in. If you’re keen to engage a PEO in Canada to assist with your business expansion plans, contact us today.