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4 Benefits Differences for Canadian Employees vs. American Employees

4 Benefits Differences for Canadian Employees vs. American Employees

Aug 14, 2020 | Business, Canadian Permanent Resident

Great benefits are universally desirable. No matter where in the world you’re looking to hire employees, you can attract the top talent by providing an excellent benefits package to your employees. If you have employees working and living in Canada, it’s important to understand what benefits workers desire, what is required by law, and what you can do to make sure your employees are receiving the best. Though many aspects are similar for workers in the US and Canada, there are a few key differences you should know. 

Health Insurance

Canada has universal healthcare, which means the government pays for medically-necessary hospital and physician services. However, this doesn’t cover certain aspects of healthcare like dental procedures, vision care, private hospitals, and prescription drugs. In the United States, healthcare coverage is often offered through employers, and employees can choose whether to opt in. In most cases, a predetermined amount is removed from each paycheck to pay for the employer-sponsored health coverage. 

In Canada, however, because healthcare is universal, employers don’t offer basic healthcare packages but do offer additional coverage that helps to pay for dental and vision care, prescription drugs, and other medical expenses that the government doesn’t pay for. Some employers will require that employees put part of their paycheck towards funding this extra coverage. Because the government covers basic medical expenses in Canada, benefits often cost significantly less per Canadian employee

Retirement Plans

In the United States, many employers offer retirement benefits like a 401(k) so employees can put pre-tax money aside for after they reach retirement age. Some employers will match employee contributions, helping to maximize the amount that the employee saves for retirement. In Canada, it is required by law for both employers and employees to contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). Every worker over the age of 18 who is employed in Canada (outside of Quebec) and earns more than $3,500 each year needs to contribute to the CPP. As an employer, you pay half the required contributions and the employee pays the other half. 

This government-mandated pension isn’t expected to cover all costs for after retirement, as individuals can receive a maximum of $1,175.83 monthly under this plan. So in addition to the required contributions to the Canadian Pension Plan, employers will often offer additional retirement benefits, like registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), which are similar to American 401(k)s. 

Employment Insurance

Canadian Employment Insurance (EI) is very similar to unemployment insurance in the US. This provides benefits for employees who become unemployed through no fault of their own (i.e. layoff). It can also provide a temporary income for those who are sick, who need to take family medical leave, or who are taking parental leave or maternity leave. While the max amount someone can receive from EI varies by province, it is usually 55% of the income you made annually, with income capped at $54,200. People can receive EI for a set number of weeks. 

Other Desirable Benefits

There are a few other benefits that Canadians look for when searching for a job. These are similar to what US workers are looking for, and can include company cars, technology like smartphones and laptops, life insurance, and transit reimbursement. It’s also vital to remember that each Canadian province has laws about vacation time and vacation pay as well. 

And don’t forget that employee benefits can help out employers, too. Offering wellness and fitness programs can encourage employees to stay healthy, which in turn will increase morale and productivity. Any benefits that you offer should be aimed at attracting the best employees and making sure they stay happy working for your company for years to come. 


If you’re considering hiring employees in Canada, it’s a smart idea to work with an employment service who knows the ins and outs of hiring employees in Canada. It can sometimes be confusing or overwhelming to understand the rules and regulations of the Canadian government, but BrightR can help! Contact us today for more information about hiring employees in Canada. 

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