Freelancing in Canada may not be the first thing that comes to mind, when looking for new opportunities to travel and work outside your home country. When discussing Freelancing abroad, the natural selection for many people are more exotic locations.. We’ve started our Ultimate Freelancing series with a post on Freelancing in Thailand, but we though it would be the right thing to do, to balance the sizzling heat of palm shaded beaches with a bit of a harsh, yet amazing beauty of the North. We’ve researched, for you, the most important things you need to know before you decide on freelancing in Canada. But don’t leave yet – every week we will publish one more country to choose from.
I have always associated Canada with Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette. Apart from rather obvious musical connotations I pictured it as a rather empty country populated by so few that it seemed hard to believe people actually mate there. How wrong was I?! Celine, Bryan and Alanis are Canadians – no doubt about it, but my other stereotypical views were one of the reasons why I did not consider Canada as a freelancers paradise. Yes it is a huge country! Yes, it is not as densely populated as Tokyo’s Ginza in rush hours! But by no means is it empty – it is full of amazing nature, great resources, a stable continental climate and metropolises like Toronto or Vancouver for those who do not necessarily look for a carrier as a lumberjack.
Canada is a great destination for those looking for freelancing opportunities yet like all the other places you can choose from there are some things that might discourage you. Every year, thousands of foreign workers enter Canada to work temporarily in jobs that help Canadian employers address skill shortages. A work permit is needed for most temporary jobs in Canada. So don’t just assume a regular tourist visa will do the trick. So if you plan to work in Canada temporarily you need a permit – best way to do so is to apply here. If you are going to be employed by a Canadian employer they are responsible for establishing a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). An LMO confirms that there is no Canadian or permanent resident available, and the employer can fill the job with a foreign worker. There are some jobs however that do not require that opinion – it’s best to find out if you need one.
If you are looking for other options than just regular employment you might be interested in the Live-in Caregivers programme. Live-in caregivers are individuals who are qualified to provide care for children, elderly people or people with disabilities in private homes, without supervision. Live-in caregivers must live in the private home where they work in Canada. Both the employer and the employee must follow several steps to meet the requirements of the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). As a live-in caregiver, you have legal rights to fair working conditions and fair treatment under labour laws in most provinces and territories. Nothing in your contract or working conditions can violate these rights. One thing is for sure – Canada is a very civilised country, so your legal rights as an employee are pretty much safe.
Things get even better if you do not necessarily come as a worker, but rather as a businessman. Every year, thousands of international business visitors come to Canada to cooperate with Canadian companies. There are requirements you must meet to be allowed into Canada. But one thing is good to know business visitors do not require a work permit. A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to engage in international business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market. Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to 6 months. A business visitor is a separate category with separate requirements. But as I have stated clearly before business visitors do not require a work permit. Business people covered by NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) do not need a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). This means that Canadian employers do not need to have a job offer approved by HRSDC to hire an American or a Mexican business person, as set out in NAFTA. So if you qualify into that group things get even easier. You might want to learn more about the jobs listed here.
But when it comes to freelancing per se being self-employed is what matters the most. Unfortunately you cant legally set up a registered company when you’re on a working holiday visa so being self-employed under disguise is a no go. But there are ways around this which people have been looking into (obviously all legit before anyone asks). The most straight forward solution seems to be to become an employee of a Canadian Umbrella Company…..
The company would set up a contract with your client/agency, invoice them on a monthly basis for your services and then pay you into a Canadian bank account taking care of the tax man in the process. There are few companies that offer this service and it might be worth checking some of them here. Note however that there will be a few restrictions. You won’t be able to work in education, healthcare and most construction type jobs for example. In all cases mentioned you will need a Social Insurance Number: You have to do it when you arrive. You need your work permit first and you don’t get that until you reach the border. To further your knowledge and exchange information it’s worth checking the Community: Expats living in Canada.
One of the things people love the most about the idea of freelancing in Thailand was the fact that the accommodation was so ridiculously cheap. That is not the case in Canada, however. Of course the prices are not as sky high as in Manhattan, but still renting a studio in Toronto or Vancouver could mean from $900 up in your budget. You can check the specific offers here, but it’s obviously best to decide when you already know more about the future possible job.
One thing that people usually associate with Canada are the freezing temperatures. That is actually not the case especially if you choose the third biggest city there. Vancouver’s climate is incredibly mild by Canadian standards; its winters are easily the warmest of Canada’s big cities. The mild winters are a result of the combined effects of the mild Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, which block cold winter air moving in from the rest of the continent. Snow falls in Vancouver on an average of eleven days a year, rarely reaching depths of more than a few centimeters. Summers are dry, sunny and – as they state – reasonably warm.
Compared to Thailand again Canada is a rather more expensive country when it comes to cost of living, however with rather good salaries there, the balance is not that horrible after all. You can check the exemplary living costs here. Canada is a huge country and the car is a must if you intend to move around. The good thing is that the oil prices are relatively low compared to those in Europe. And when the distance is truly great it’s best to simply fly domestic with Air Canada. And speaking of distance – one thing every freelancer or actually every human being needs is the internet. Internet is a necessity (a bare one I should say) but in Canada it is not as cheap as you might want it to be. Before deciding on a provider it is best to compare rates here and choose the most suitable one. The one I looked into was $35 a month for high speed internet.
Canada seems to be a great and relatively safe opportunity – even though it is still in parts a pretty wild country it is also a very civilised one. At least when it comes to legal issues. Some view it as a boring – but I’d say it’s serene. After all the places you chose should be in tune with your true nature. That is why we intend to show you as many various destinations as we can. Next week we had east again – this time India, and to be more specific GOA.