How Australians Can Work in Canada – A Complete Guide

July 16, 2020
Posted in How To Guide, Working Holiday


Australia and Canada have long been close allies and friends. We have shared values and culture. In fact, our ties go back several hundred years through the Commonwealth. This relationship fosters immigration, study, and work opportunities between our countries. So can Australians work in Canada? The great news is, yes! In fact, for Australians between 18 and 35, the opportunity is very accessible.

How Australians Can Work in Canada

For Australians aged 18 to 35, work permits for Canada are distributed through a Canadian Government program called International Experience Canada (IEC). Australians are fortunate to receive an unlimited number of places in IEC’s annual program. Canada limits every other country to a finite number of participants each year. Luckily for our beloved Australians, Canada has the red carpet rolled out!

On top of that, most other countries are limited to stay in Canada for a maximum of one year. But Australians receive IEC work permits that allow you to work in Canada for up to two years!

There are three categories of IEC work permits that Australian citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 can apply for:

  • Working Holiday – an open work permit to work in any job. Valid for 24 months.
  • Young Professional – if you have a job offer that falls under Canada’s NOC Skill Type 0, Level A or B. Valid for 24 months.
  • International Co-op – for students at Australian post-secondary institutions doing an internship in Canada. Valid for 24 months, unless it’s your second participation in IEC, then it’s only valid for 12 months.

Australians can participate in IEC a maximum of two times. One time must be either the Working Holiday or Young Professional category. The other must be the International Co-op category. You cannot, for instance, do a Working Holiday, then get a Young Professional permit.

Australians working in Canada on the working holiday permit may work for any employer for any length of time, up to the maximum 24-month duration of the visa.

Your experience of a lifetime in Canada is waiting. Check out how we helped Karolina make her dream to work in the Canadian Rockies a reality!

Requirements for Australians to Work in Canada

In order for Australians to qualify for the International Experience Canada program and work in Canada, there are a few criteria to meet. The requirements are slightly different for each category of work permit.

In general, the requirements that Australians must meet to be eligible for a Canada Working Holiday permit are:

  • hold an Australian passport that will be valid for the duration of your stay in Canada
  • between the ages of 18 and 35 at the time of application
  • proof of a minimum of $2,500 CAD of accessible funds
  • have purchased health insurance for the entire duration of your stay
  • a round-trip ticket or proof of funds to purchase a return flight back to Australia

Additional Requirements for the Other Work Permit Categories:

If you are applying for the Young Professional permit you must also have a job offer or contract in your field of expertise that contributes to your professional development under NOC 0, A or B.

If you are applying for the International Co-op permit you must also have a signed internship offer or contract for your internship placement that meets your academic institution’s requirements.

In both cases, employers in Canada must submit your offer of employment through the IRCC’s Employer Portal.

Valeria moved to Vancouver on a working holiday in 2016 with Stepwest’s assistance and since then has called Canada home.

What It’s Like to Work in Canada

The work culture in Australia and Canada is fairly similar, with a few minor differences. Work-life balance plays an important role, especially on the West coast of Canada. However, there are a few aspects where Canada’s work culture is closer to that of our American neighbours.

Working Hours & Pay

On average, the working hours are 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. This of course depends on your job. Lunch breaks are typically 30 minutes up to one hour max.

Payday is most commonly bi-monthly. There is statutory holiday (public holiday) pay increases equal to 1.5 times your standard wage. However, unlike in Australia, weekend pay increases do not exist in Canada.

Holidays

This is where we are closely tied to the American work culture. In most cases, starting holidays are 10 days or two weeks. This will increase with years of service. To draw top talent, companies will offer three, even four weeks of starting vacation. In some cases, companies will close over the Christmas holidays. Ultimately, starting holidays will depend on your job and industry.

Benefits

Like Australia’s Medicare, healthcare in Canada is publicly funded. Health care is provided by the provinces and coverage varies slightly between provinces. Some provinces charge a small monthly fee, however as of June 2020, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario do not charge fees. On top of this, companies will provide additional coverage after completion of a probationary period. This coverage is typically a percentage of the cost of medical expenses like prescriptions, ambulance, and check-ups.

Canada does not have an equivalent of the Australian ‘Super’. Instead, individuals are required to save for retirement on their own. Some companies will offer retirement savings matching. In this instance, your employer will contribute to your retirement savings fund when you do (up to a certain limit each year).

Oscar experience in The Rockies, Canada - Stepwest Stories
Oscar moved to Vancouver on a Working Holiday Visa to experience the powder in the Rockies. Stepwest helped him secure a job on our Working Holiday Program.

How to Work in Canada with an IEC Work Permit

The process to legally work in Canada starts when you are still in Australia. The simplified version of applying for the Working Holiday Visa is to make an online profile with IEC, then submit your work permit application through your account. Once your work permit application has been approved, you receive a letter to provide the border officer when you arrive in Canada. In exchange, they will give you the work permit.

We have put together a complete step-by-step guide on how to apply for the Canada Working Holiday Visa. We recommend you carefully read through it before considering starting your application. This will give you a complete understanding of what is required before you get started.

Stepwest can assist you through the visa application process. Our team in Vancouver will help you before, during and after your arrival in Canada!

How to Find Work in Canada

Know you how Australians can work in Canada your next question might be, how do you find a job? You will need to plan out your strategy for finding work. We’ve broken down the three most common approaches to finding work in Canada.

1) Apply for jobs before arriving

This is the most difficult approach. Even if you received your Letter of Introduction, this is not your physical work permit. You don’t receive that until you are in Canada. If you are a skilled worker or have specific expertise this option might work for you if you plan to apply for the Young Professional work permit.

2) Apply for jobs after arriving

This approach will make it easier to land a job but is more costly. You will need to budget for several weeks of unemployment while you wait for a callback and go through the interview process. During that time, you will need to pay for your accommodation, food, and transportation. Without a job, you may find it more difficult to land a flat as property management companies will give preference to applicants with full-time employment.

3) Use an agency like Stepwest to secure work ahead of time

This option requires an expense upfront, but it’s an investment that will save you heaps of time and stress. Arriving in Canada with a job secured or interviews already lined up takes a lot of uncertainty out of moving to Canada.

Stepwest will help you start working faster, so you earn money faster. Securing your job on arrival means you can get set up in a flat or sharehouse faster, reducing your adjustment time.

You will also be able to meet people faster and plan outings together to explore your new city. 24 months seems like a long time to live in Canada, but trust us, it will fly by. The last thing you want is to spend the first part of your experience looking for work while draining your savings. Not an ideal start to your experience in Canada.

Get set up for success in Canada with a job and accommodation before you arrive, like Oskar did – we got him a job at a ski resort in Banff!

Planning a Working Holiday in Canada? Interested in securing a job before you arrive?

Stepwest offers working holiday programs where we guarantee you a job. We offer complete employment support because we know moving abroad takes a lot of planning. Enjoy the winter or summer season working at a resort in Whistler, Banff, Jasper, or Lake Louise. If you’re more of a city person, check out our Working Holiday City Job Program and get assigned a personal job coordinator to secure interviews for you upon arrival.

Are you still considering your options for your Working Holiday experience in Canada? No worries!

Book a FREE consultation with our team to learn how we can help you make the most of your work experience in Canada:

Additional Resources

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