CPA & Business Advisory Blog

Business in Canada

Doing Business in Canada

Banking, Economics and Trade

Canada’s banking system is one of the most stable and developed in the world, and it forms the foundation for the country’s advanced economic stability. notes the system is divided into three schedules, classified by ownership and size.

  • Schedule I banks are domestically owned. Deposits in Schedule I banks may be eligible for deposit insurance provided by the Canada Deposit and Insurance Corporation.
  • Schedule II banks are foreign bank subsidiaries, which may be eligible for deposit insurance from the Canada Deposit and Insurance Corporation.
  • Schedule III banks are bank branches of foreign institutions that have been authorized by the Canadian government to do banking business in Canada, but with certain restrictions.

Canada has a service-dominated economy — as is the case with most developed nations. The service sector employs approximately 75 percent of the workforce.

Canada is also rich in natural resources, particularly its vast evergreen forests, and massive oil and natural gas deposits in Alberta and off the shore of the Atlantic Provinces. The oil deposits alone account for 13 percent of the world’s oil reserves, behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Those factors make the country unusual among developed nations in its reliance on its primary-sector businesses. Logging and petroleum are two of the most prominent primary-sector industries in Canada, making it one of the few developed nations that is a net exporter of energy.

Canada also has large grain production, mineral exporting and manufacturing industries serving as pillars of the nation’s economy. Its abundance of natural resources and its thriving manufacturing sector have made the country one of the most active international trade partners in the world, although the U.S. is by far its biggest, accounting for 75 percent of Canadian exports. The U.K., Mexico, China and Japan serve as other major trade partners, accounting for a combined 12 percent of total exports.

Canada does have a sizable trade deficit, with imports exceeding exports by approximately 25 percent annually. Once again, the U.S. is Canada’s biggest partner, accounting for about 50 percent of Canadian imports.


Because so much of Canada is composed of arctic and subarctic lands, much of the country is sparsely inhabited or uninhabited. Though Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land area, it’s only the 37th most populated country, according to

Canada has a population of about 35.7 million, or about 3 million fewer than California. Ontario and Quebec account for nearly 62 percent of the country’s population, while British Columbia and Alberta are the next two most populous provinces.

  • Ontario – 38.5 percent
  • Quebec – 23.2 percent
  • British Columbia – 13.0 percent
  • Alberta – 11.4 percent
  • Remaining provinces and territories – 13.9 percent

Canada has sophisticated welfare, retirement, medical and unemployment programs aimed at creating a socioeconomic safety net that aids disadvantaged citizens. However, as the population has grown, so has the cost to support those programs, and it is now common for health, family and social services to make up more than 50 percent of a province’s annual budget. And that’s with federal support. Because Canada is a federation, many province-administered programs are supported in part by transfer payments from the federal government.

As in the U.S. and other developed countries, health care takes one of the biggest bites out of government program funding. All provinces in Canada provide universal, publicly funded health care for services deemed by the government as medically necessary. Costs are partially subsidized by the federal government in those cases.

Services that are not listed, or that have been delisted — that is, services that are not covered by, or have been removed from, provincial insurance plans — may be purchased privately. notes that the Canadian government bans the purchase of private insurance or care for any services that are listed, a move meant to prevent a system of two-tiered health care, allowing those who can pay for private health care to receive treatment above and beyond what the government will pay for. However, in the 2005 Chaouli v. Quebec ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada created an exception, ruling that the private-care ban on listed services could be considered unconstitutional if it creates unreasonable delays for patients.


In Canada, provinces and territories administer primary and secondary education, which is compulsory up to age 16, 17 or 18, depending on the province. Public elementary and secondary education is provided at a nominal cost. Private education is available but is much less popular than in other developed countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., due to its comparatively high cost and the relative high quality of public education. Post-secondary schooling is subsidized by the federal and provincial governments, and financial assistance is available through student loans and bursaries.

Click here to download the full whitepaper: Business in Canada

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