In the past few decades, Canada has become a top destination for immigrants from around the world. At the same time, it has earned a reputation as a land of opportunity. Canada ranks among the safest and most prosperous countries in the world, with places like Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal having some of the best quality of life of any major cities.

But before submitting a visa application or jumping on an airplane, potential immigrants need to think about what part of Canada they would like to move to, and how they will make a living once they get here. To make this major decision a little easier, we’ve put together this list of the top employers in Canada’s largest cities.

If your work skills and experience are in a specific field, this directory will give you a better idea in what part of Canada you are likely to find work. Or, if you are set on moving to a specific city, this will give you a picture of which companies and industries do the most hiring in that locale.

You will also find these articles especially helpful:

Top Employers in Calgary

In southern Alberta, Calgary sits at the hub of Canada’s booming energy industry, dominated by oil and gas. But the city’s economy is more diverse than you might think, and the job market is quite strong. Telecommunications, chemical manufacturing and healthcare are major industries in Calgary. The city is also home to the second highest concentration of corporate headquarters in Canada after Toronto.

BP Canada: This is a subsidiary of British Petroleum headquartered in the U.K. Based in Calgary but active throughout Canada, the company has about 500 employees.

Canada Safeway: Formerly a subsidiary of the major American grocery chain, Canada Safeway now operates separately as part of the Empire Company based in Nova Scotia and has its headquarters in Calgary.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited: The largest independent producer of natural gas in Western Canada and the largest producer of heavy crude oil in Canada, Canadian Natural has nearly 10,000 employees in Canada and worldwide, primarily in Calgary and Alberta.

Cenovus Energy: An integrated oil company headquartered in Calgary with about 3,500 employees.

Mark’s Work Warehouse: A sporting goods company with headquarters in Calgary and almost 400 stores locations across Canada.

Nova Chemicals: With headquarters in Calgary and Pennsylvania, Nova is a major producer of plastics and chemicals with about 5,000 employees in Calgary.

Shaw Communications: A Canadian telecom giant with 15,000 employees, delivering telephone, internet, television, and mobile services in Western Canada. The company provides about 7,500 jobs in Calgary.

Telus: Based in Vancouver, this national telecom company has about 4,000 employees in Calgary.

WestJet: A low cost airline headquartered near the Calgary airport with a total of more than 14,000 employees.

In the public sector, the Calgary Zone of the Alberta Health Services provides about 22,000 jobs, the City of Calgary another 12,000.

Largest Employers in Edmonton

The $60-billion oil and gas industry really dominates this city in northern Alberta. But in recent years, the local economy has diversified somewhat into chemicals, research and technology.

Canadian Western Bank: The country’s only major bank headquartered west of Toronto, with about 2,000 employees in western Canada.

Government of Alberta: Alberta, with its capital in Edmonton, has about 300,000 public employees.

National Institute for Nanotechnology: Established in 2001 and located on the University of Alberta main campus.

Pyramid Corporation: A subsidiary of PTW Energy in Calgary, Pyramid specializes in electrical, instrumentation and building fabrication services.

University of Alberta: With about 5,000 employees and close to 40,000 students, U of A contributes about $12 billion to the local economy.

West Edmonton Mall: The largest shopping mall in North America with more than 800 stores, 100 eateries, 2 hotels and a total of about 24,000 employees.

Biggest Employers in Montreal

Montreal, the largest city in French Canada and the second largest city in Canada, has an extremely diverse economy. Banking and technology are major sectors, but industries like retail, trade, tobacco, and aerospace also provide an enormous variety of jobs.

Bank of Montreal: BOM has its headquarters in Montreal with over 45,000 employees across Canada. Royal Bank of Canada (based in Toronto) also has major operations in Montreal.

Bombardier: One of the world’s leading manufacturers of regional airliners, business jets, and equipment for public transport, with headquarters in Montreal and Berlin and about 70,000 employees worldwide.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada: The Canadian branch of the pharmaceutical giant has its headquarters in Montreal with about 400 employees.

CAE: Another major name in Montreal’s booming aerospace sector, CAE designs and manufactures a variety of technologies for airlines, healthcare and the defence industry. They are based just outside of Montreal with about 10,0o0 employees across the globe.

Cirque du Soleil: If you’re particularly talented, you might land a job with the Circus of the Sun, Montreal’s world renowned theatrical production which employs more than 4,000 people from 40 countries.

City of Montreal: The city government is one of the largest job providers in Montreal.

Ericsson: The Swedish telecom company has a head office in Montreal with about 1,000 employees working on research and development.

Google: A hub for Artificial Intelligence research in North America, Montreal has attracted several technology superpowers—including also  Facebook, Microsoft and Deepmind—to open facilities in Montreal, conducting some of the most cutting-edge research on the planet.

Imperial Tobacco Canada: A subsidiary of the U.K.-based British-American Tobacco, ITC has its headquarters in Montreal.

McGill University: One of the top-ranked universities in Canada, McGill has a staff of more than 5,000 and a student body of over 40,000.  An even larger university, Concordia has more than 6,000 employees and about 46,000 students.

Morgan Stanley: The titan of international banking has a major presence in Montreal, along with a number of other global financial institutions.

Pfizer: The Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc., one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, has its headquarters in Montreal.

Pratt & Whitney: Another leader in big pharma, with a head office and research facility in Longueuil, just outside of Montreal.

Ubisoft: A major software and video game firm with a new Canadian headquarters in Montreal employing a staff of roughly 3,500.

Top Employers in Ottawa

The nation’s capital, Ottawa is not a big city, but it has the most highly educated population of any Canadian city. Most employment is in the public sector, with the federal government, or for schools and universities. The city is also growing as a centre for technology, sometimes called the Silicon Valley North.

Federal Government of Canada: The various departments of the federal bureaucracy employee about 110,000 individuals in the area, making it Ottawa’s number one employer.

City of Ottawa: City government provides another 15,000 jobs.

Cognos: A business software company, now owned by IBM, still based in Ottawa with about 3,500 employees.

Halogen: Another software company with its headquarters in Ottawa, Halogen has about 500 employees.

Shopify: The world famous e-commerce company was founded in Ottawa and has its headquarters there, with more than 4,000 employees.

University of Ottawa has close to 6,000 employees and more than 40,000 students. Carleton University is slightly smaller in size.

Leading Employers in Toronto

The largest city and most vibrant economy in the country, Toronto is extremely diverse in every way. Technology, telecommunications, banking, healthcare and engineering are all big employers in Toronto, as are schools and government. It is home to the greatest number of corporate headquarter offices in the country. Almost every Canadian business listed in this article will have some sort of operations in Toronto.

Bell Canada: The Telecom company, headquartered in Montreal, has about 8,000 employees in Toronto, making it one of the city’s top employers. Rogers, another Canadian communications giant, also employs about 10,000 Torontonians.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce: One of the “Big Five” banks of Canada, all of which are operationally based in Toronto. CIBC employs about 15,000 people in Toronto. Scotiabank also employs around 14,000. Bank of Montreal has about 9,000 employees and another 6,000 work for Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD). The Royal Bank of Canada has a staff of about 2,000 in Toronto.

Deloitte: The London-based professional services company has a staff of about 4,000 in Toronto.

Hudson’s Bay Company: The upscale retailer has its headquarters and over 4,000 employees in Toronto.

Magna International: One of Canada’s largest companies, with more than 11,000 employees in Toronto, specializing in mobility technology for automakers.

Toronto District School Board: Operating about 450 primary and 100 secondary schools which employ over 5,000 teachers and staff in the city.

Largest Employers in Vancouver

The Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada, but in recent years, technology and aerospace have come to dominate the local economy.

Amazon: One of many major foreign technology firms with offices in Vancouver, along with companies like IBMNokia, MicrosoftSage, and Intel. Together they play a vital role in Vancouver’s robust economy.

Cymax Stores: The online retailer specializes in home and office furniture and has its headquarters in Vancouver

HSBC Bank Canada: With headquarters in Vancouver, the international bank has about 6,000 employees.

Lululemon Athletica: Based in Vancouver, the apparel company has nearly 500 stores and 15,000 employees worldwide.

MDA: A subsidiary of Maxar Technology based in Colorado, with its headquarters in Vancouver. They specialize in communications, radar and other products related to satellites and space exploration.

Nature’s Path: One of many healthy lifestyle businesses in the area, the organic food producer has its headquarters in Richmond, British Columbia, and has roughly 500 employees.

University of British Columbia: The largest post-secondary school in the province, UBC has about 65,000 students and a staff of nearly 15,000. Simon Fraser University, about half the size, is also an important job provider in the area.


Moving to Canada could be a smart move for a great number of valid reasons. But before you take the leap, you need to have a plan. Knowing what you’ll do for a living and in which city will be critical factors to consider. This directory provides a complete overview of the major industries and employers in Canada. Keep in mind, however, that these cities are also filled with smaller businesses and employers, and you could really end up in any line of work. You might also go into business for yourself, as self-employment is a popular, viable option for many Canadians.

To further prepare yourself for a move to Canada, you can also consider speaking with a relocation specialist. ARIANNE Relocation has been helping families and professionals make the move to Canada for more than 20 years. We have a range of products and services to help make the transition easier, including a series of comprehensive Online Relocation Guides that will give you all the tools you need to arrange a smooth move to Canada.

PHOTO CREDIT: Office buildings in downtown Calgary by Steph Smith (Unsplash)