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Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Business culture in Canada is a blend of American, British, and French tendencies; that is, practices vary depending on the region. Most Canadians identify themselves very strongly with their province. Respect for opinions, equality, diversity and justice are, however, the values governing the business environment.

Canadian businesses had traditionally been hierarchical, but flattened hierarchy are gaining ground. Thus, research into a company's structure is required before engaging in negotiations. The managers are going to be in charge of making the final decision. However, they seldom make the decision without consulting the opinions of the subordinates.

Developing a personal relationship to strengthen the business relationship is not usually necessary. As a rule, privacy is separated from professional life.

First Contact
It is better to make an appointment for a first meeting. Having a common acquaintance helps, but is not mandatory. The best times to set up meetings are Tuesdays-Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., especially in the morning. Appointment requests can be made by telephone or email followed by an Outlook reminder. Make sure to thoroughly explain the reason for the meeting request.
Time Management
Punctuality is highly valued in Canada. It is advised to arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the meeting. You should expect the meeting time to adhere closely to schedule, both in its start and duration.
Greetings and Titles
Greetings start with a handshake, followed by a personal and company introduction. When meeting with a French Canadian colleague of the opposite sex, you can expect to be greeted with a double cheek kiss no matter how well you are acquainted with the person. It is normal to address a counterpart by “Mr” or “Mrs” or "Monsieur" or "Madame" followed by the surname, and to use their title (“Doctor”, etc.). At the end of the meeting, you should remember to say thank you.
Gift Policy
Offering and receiving gifts is not a common practice in Canada. Small business gifts might be given when an agreement is reached or at the end of a commercial mission or an official visit. Traditional gifts from ones' country of origin are particularly enjoyed; good chocolates, flowers or wine also make for acceptable gifts (expect gifts to be opened when received).
Dress Code
Dress code is expected to be formal, with sober-colored suits and dresses. In some industries such as technology, dress can be more casual.
Business Cards
It is advisable to have one side of your business card in English and the other side in French. It should be handed to counterparts at the beginning of the meeting when shaking hands. Other peoples' business cards should be looked at carefully when received before storing them away.
Meetings Management
Business meetings in Canada tend to be more formal than in the United States. Having small talk at the beginning of the meeting is common.

Presentations should be short and clear, and it is important to use facts and figures during business meetings. Be sure to be prepared with information and not exaggerate your company's abilities. If an offer is considered to be of real interest, the answer comes very quickly. Agreements are often only sealed by a handshake and a written agreement. The latter must be confirmed by a letter setting out the terms and conditions discussed. A contract in due form is always welcome.

Communication is somewhat indirect. Disagreement is allowed but should be done so respectfully and diplomatically. Francophones are generally more open to interrupting other people talking than Anglophones. It is advised to maintain your distance from counterparts. Limit humorous comments until gauging how others react to them. Making eye contact is important as a sign of respect and sincerity. It is advised to be smiling, confident and to go straight to the point of the meeting.

During business lunches or dinners, talk will be more casual, but business can still be done. Table manners are continental (i.e. fork in left hand), one must wait to be shown to a seat, and food is not consumed until the host begins his meal. Manners in Quebec are a little more formal than other Canadian regions.

Sources for Further Information
Canada Guide
Global Affairs Canada - Cultural Information
Meeting Etiquette Tips for Business Travel to Canada
Canadian Business Culture
 
 

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Opening Hours

Opening Hours and Days
Companies are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Retail outlets are open 7 days a week.
 

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Good Friday (for banks, government offices) the Friday before Easter
Easter and Easter Monday March-April
Victoria Day May
Saint John the Baptist June
Canada Day 1 July
Civic holiday August
Labor Day 1st Monday of September
Thanksgiving Day 2nd Monday of October
Remembrance Day 11 November
Christmas Day 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December
 
Holiday Compensation
If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is made up on the Friday before or the Monday after.
 

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Companies are open all year round.
 
For Further Information
Holiday Schedule (Post Canada)

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Latest Update: June 2022