Canada’s Top Largest Employers by Province

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Right now is a good time to start thinking about your future in Canada and where and with what company your next job might be. Yes, mid-to-small sized businesses account for a considerable amount of hiring in normal times, but it may very well be that it turns out the large corporations are the ones who’ll end up doing a lot of the hiring over the coming months and years

As Canada emerges stage by stage from the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s important to look ahead and see who might start hiring again as things open back up. While employment prospects may look dimmer now than a year ago, history suggests that the Canadian economy will eventually bounce back and that companies will need additional employees. The consensus seems to be that it will be a long and erratic climb out of the Covid-induced recession, but data is suggesting that the recovery may be stronger and quicker than the experts are predicting.

That means that right now is a good time to start thinking about your future in Canada and where and with what company your next job might be. Yes, mid-to-small sized businesses account for a considerable amount of hiring in normal times, but it may very well be that it turns out the large corporations are the ones who’ll end up doing a lot of the hiring over the coming months and years. So, let’s dive down into the data and see who the largest employers are in each province and territory. Remember, every crisis is an opportunity.

We’ll select several of the largest employers in each province, with one exception when it comes to the territory of Yukon where only one employer is significant as far as number of employees goes.


Ontario’s Top 7 Employers

Go ahead and guess how many healthcare workers are there in Canada’s most populous province.

Lots, as you’ll see in the table below. As with Quebec, BC, and arguably Alberta, there are so many large employers in the province that it’s a case of finding which have the most employees.

Needless to say, with Toronto as Canada’s financial centre and with Southern Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe as a major manufacturing and tech hub, there are all kinds of companies that have had to be left out. Think of the table as more of a sampling of large employers from various industries across the province.

Company Industry Employees
Ontario Health Insurance Plan Health care 380,000+
Onex* Investment/Financials 160,000+
TD Bank Financials 89,000+
Royal Bank of Canada Financials 85,000+
Celestica Electronics 28,000+
Rogers Communications Telecommunications 26,000+
Royal LePage Real Estate 14,000+

*Onex is an investment manager with $36 billion invested in dozens of companies across a variety of industries in Canada and abroad. Yes, they have jobs at their head offices in Toronto, New York, and London – highly skilled financial positions in general. But the jobs available to new Canadians are more likely to be in one of the many companies they own or have part ownership of.


Top 6 Employers in Quebec

While it is next to impossible to determine the total number of healthcare workers in Quebec, it is clear that replacing their aging health workers has been a pressing need even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis in the province’s healthcare system. Quebec’s healthcare system has struggled for decades and has even been the subject of a film by the province’s most famous film director, Denys Arcand, called The Barbarian Invasions. So, workers like nurses and other healthcare providers are desperately needed.

Also, Quebec has many large companies and is a transport hub with Air Canada’s headquarters located in the city.

As always, fluency in French is a basic requirement.

Company Industry Employees
Health Insurance RAMQ Health care n/a
Bank of Montreal Financials 45,500+
Air Canada Airlines 30,000+
Saputo Consumer goods 16,800+
McGill University Education 5,000+
Ubisoft Montreal Technology 3,500+


British Columbia’s Top 4 Employers

In Canada’s Pacific province it should no surprise that one employer is miles ahead of the competition as far as number of employees is concerned. However, there are clearly other large companies based in the province and often – but not always – headquartered in Vancouver.

Yes, it’s BC’s public healthcare program which employs almost 3 times more workers than Jim Pattison’s Conglomerate. With the province’s heath care service rated among the top in the world, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that that means lots of employees. Moreover, around a third of Medical Services Plan employees are either registered or licensed practical nurses along with care providers and other care assistants.

Company Industry Employees
Medical Services Plan Health care 120,000+
Jim Pattison Group Conglomerate 45,000+
A&W Canada Fast Food 35,000+
Lululemon Athletic Apparel 15,700+


Top 5 Employers in Alberta

While Alberta is known for energy, agricultural industries, and tourism, you might be surprised to hear that – as in neighbouring BC – the largest employer by far in Wild Rose Country – Alberta’s nickname that until recently was featured on provincial license plates – is Alberta Health Services. The provincial healthcare service employs 109,000 workers of all kinds, handily beating large private corporations like Suncor or Shaw communications.

But energy is still key to Alberta’s economy, so our top employers includes energy stalwart Suncor.

Company Industry Employees
Alberta Health Services Health care 109,000+
Shaw communications Telecommunications 15,000+
Suncor Oil and Gas 13,000+
Precision Drilling Oil and Gas Services 4,400+
Telus* Telecommunications 59,000+

*Telus in fact is the mainline phone company for both Alberta and BC so we’ve included it in Alberta’s largest companies although many employees are based in BC.

Manitoba’s Top 4 Employers

Winnipeg’s local economy is what sets Manitoba’s larger employers apart from Saskatchewan’s agricultural and energy-based economy. The city has been a regional financial centre for generations even if it doesn’t come close to matching Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or perhaps even Calgary’s financial centres. The Wheat Board of Canada used to operate in the city and Winnipeg’s commodity exchange has been a feature of Canadian financial markets for many years. CanWest Global was born in the city – even if it recently was sold off in pieces, it had previously been a major presence in Canada’s telecommunications market for decades.

So, it is fairly logical that an insurance company should be one of the province’s biggest employers. That is, after healthcare workers who are, once again, the largest body of employees in the province.

Company Industry Employees
Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan Health care 82,000+
Canada Life Assurance Company Financials 10,500+
Bell MTS Telecommunications 4,800+
Buhler Industries Farm/Construction 1,100+


Top 4 Employers in Saskatchewan

While the province has an oil and gas industry with a number of relatively smaller players, the big employers in this prairie province are crown corporations based in the provincial capital Regina. In other words – as you’ll see below – if it’s got Sask in the name, then it’s on the largest employer list.

Also keep in mind that Saskatchewan’s population is noticeably less than BC’s or Alberta’s, so the list of larger employers is a little shorter and the number of employees is lower as well.

However, by far the largest employer in the province happens to be … you guessed it – the local provincial health service with nearly 60,000 workers.

Company Industry Employees
Saskatchewan Health Authority Healthcare 59,000+
SaskTel Telecommunications 4,100+
SaskPower Utilities 3,100+
SaskEnergy Oil and Gas 1,100+


Nova Scotia’s Top 6 Employers

As is evident by now, provincial health insurance plans tend to be the largest employer in their respective provinces. However, keep in mind that Canada tends to impose significant requirements on doctors from overseas who wish to get their license and work in the country. This varies by province with BC tending to be the most accepting of foreign-trained doctors while Ontario tends to be one of the more restrictive provinces. Working as a nurse (whether registered or licensed practical nurse) presents a somewhat easier path for those schooled and trained abroad.

So, what organization/company has by far the largest number of employees in thriving and beautiful Nova Scotia? See below! And note the variety of companies in Nova Scotia.

Company Industry Employees
Nova Scotia Health Authority Health care 23,400+
Jazz Aviation Airlines 4,700+
Dalhousie University Education 3,700+
Emera Inc. Utility (Energy) 2,300+
Clearwater Seafoods Fish Processing 1,030+
NTT Data Computer Systems 880+


Top 5 Employers in New Brunswick

The province has an unusual provincial healthcare delivery system in that it is divided into two organizations:

  • Horizon Health Network covers central and southern New Brunswick and delivers its services mostly in English.
  • Vitalitè Health Network covers northern New Brunswick and caters to the largely francophone population in the province’s northern region which borders Quebec.

Between them – as shown below – they account for more employees than most of the province’s other large employers combined.

But companies like Irving Oil or Organigram account for substantial numbers of employees, at least by the standards of a smaller province like New Brunswick.

Company Industry Employees
Horizon Health Network Health care 13,000+
Vitalitè Health care 7,400+
Irving Oil Oil & Gas/ Refining 2,800+
University of New Brunswick Education 1,750+
Organigram Inc. Cannabis Distribution 610+

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Top 5 Employers

Here the provincial health system is divided into several regions which provide health care services in their respective areas, of which the Eastern Region is the largest.

As well, Newfoundland’s energy and fish-based economy is supplemented by a growing number of companies in areas like technology.

Have a gander below:

Company Industry Employees
Health & Community Services Eastern Region Health care 13,000+
Husky Energy* Oil and Gas 5,500+
Memorial University Education 3,500+
Department of Transportation & Works Public Services 1,760+
Verafin Inc. Software 380+

*Although headquartered in Calgary, Husky Energy employs a number of its workers in the North Atlantic mostly off the coast of Newfoundland.

Top 4 Employers in Prince Edward Island (PEI)

The size of some of Ontario’s larger rural counties, this charming and historical island province is attracting more businesses as of late, but healthcare is still the largest employer.

Although the companies are smaller-sized, they provide an interesting snapshot of a growing and diverse economy. Maybe now is the time to get in on the ground floor and move to PEI before a real boom hits?

Company Industry Employees
Health PEI Health care 3,700+
Biovectra Pharma 350+
University of Prince Edward Island Education 270+
Sekisui Diagnostics Medical Diagnostics 130+

Yukon’s Top Employer

In this northern territory with its sparse population and brutal winters, government remains by far and away the largest employer – including healthcare.

To keep things simple, we merely bundled all government services into one number, seeing the territorial capital Whitehorse largely depends on government departments to provide the majority of its jobs.

And most of Yukon’s tiny population lives in Whitehorse.

Company Industry Employees
Territorial government Public Administration 6,500+

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