Doing Business in Canada | Toronto Corporate Lawyers | Baker & Co.
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Toronto Lawyers Advising Companies on Doing Business in Canada

Canada is a business-friendly country and foreign businesses are encouraged to establish themselves here.  Canada’s stable political environment and educated, diverse workforce make it an excellent choice for building and growing a business. Companies from all over the world have historically expanded into Canada and this trend has been rapidly accelerating in recent years.

At Baker & Company, we have been advising companies seeking to do business in Canada for more than 30 years. We rely on our deep interdisciplinary knowledge of multiple areas of law to provide outstanding legal guidance and risk management to business owners and entrepreneurs. Let us guide you through the process of establishing your business here.

Why Baker & Company? 

At Baker & Company, we represent more than 400 active Canadian companies. Based on this experience, we are uniquely positioned to help you understand the Canadian business climate and the regulations that will be relevant to your business model.

Our very own Mark G. Baker, LL.M. (Cornell), the founder of Baker & Company is certified as a Specialist in Corporate and Commercial Law by the Law Society of Ontario.

We are known for being the firm that handles the “complicated stuff”. We do not shy away from the most complex of business scenarios and regularly help clients through their most thorny and muddled legal and risk management issues.

We are both everyday trusted advisors and problem solvers. As advisors, we steer our clients through issues and questions that may arise on a day-to-day basis. We provide proactive guidance and advice intended to address matters before they escalate into major issues. As problem solvers, we respond quickly and efficiently where a serious concern presents itself and legal intervention is required.

Contact us well in advance of your target date to commence business operations in Canada.  We will help you design a corporate structure that is tax efficient, protects you from personal liability and which allows for a fair-minded distribution of authority and profit amongst your stakeholders and key personnel.

Three Levels of Oversight and Regulation 

Canada has three levels of government: federal, provincial, and municipal, each responsible for regulating different aspects of Canadian life and industry. When carrying on business in Canada, it is likely that you will be required to comply with laws and regulations established by each level of government.

At a federal level, the Government of Canada (i.e. the federal government) regulates your ability to enter Canada as a foreign national and regulates your ability to remain in Canada and work in your business.  The federal government also regulates the existence of a healthy and competitive marketplace and will prevent businesses from combining in any way that will reduce competition in Canada.  Similarly, the federal government will protect businesses related to Canada’s culture and heritage by regulating the extent to which foreign companies may acquire them.

At a provincial level, it is not unusual for the provincial government to require that your business receive approval to operate, as a way of regulating the standards by which businesses conduct their operations.

Depending on the type of business you operate, you may require a licence to operate issued by the local municipal government.  Further, the municipality will regulate where you may situate your business depending on what type of industry you are in.

The business lawyers at Baker & Company will help you navigate through the various rules and regulations that may affect your business operations in Canada.  If licences or approvals are required, our lawyers will assist you through the process.

Two Official Languages 

Canada has two official languages; English and French.  Most products sold in Canada must have labels in both languages; including foreign products imported for sale in Canada.  Should you decide to operate your business in Quebec, there are additional laws and regulations that must be complied with and which are intended to help preserve the French language and culture in that province.

Taxes in Canada

Canada imposes a tax on income and profit.  Canadian individuals and corporations, as well as foreign individuals and corporations earning Canadian income or profit, are required to file annual income tax returns, declaring their income.

Canada has entered into tax treaties with many other countries.  These tax treaties are designed, for the most part, to relieve situations where taxpayers are obliged to pay tax on the same income in both countries.  Income earned by a foreign-owned corporation in Canada is subject to a withholding tax at the time profits are paid out to foreign shareholders.  This requirement ensures that foreign-owned corporations file income tax returns and pay tax in Canada.

The lawyers at Baker & Company will help you navigate through the various corporate and other tax obligations that your business operations in Canada may be subject to.

Buying or Leasing Property in Canada 

Establishing your business in Canada may involve the purchase or the lease of office space, retail space, industrial space, or similar.

There are currently no legal restrictions preventing foreign individuals or corporations from acquiring real estate in Canada and both foreign individuals and corporations are permitted to acquire land for development purposes.

Profits earned from real estate investments by foreign owners are taxable in Canada.

At Baker & Company, our highly skilled real estate lawyers are experienced with property acquisition and commercial leasing, both big and small.  As your “local” representatives in Canada, we can introduce you to reputable realtors and leasing agents, accounting firms, and bankers, and make sure you can secure the space you need to grow your business.

Canadian Consumer Protection Laws 

Food products, health food products, drugs, remedies, electrical products, and motor vehicles are examples of products which will require compliance with Canadian regulations and standards, before importation and sale in Canada is permitted.  Standards include items such as:

  • Packaging, labelling, sale, importation and advertising;
  • Food safety;
  • Vehicle safety; and
  • Regulations against anti-competitive practices.

At Baker & Company, we will help you determine the steps required to ensure that your product or service complies fully with Canadian law, before being offered for sale here in Canada.

Assembling your Canadian Team

Canadian employment law is decidedly different than employment law in the United States and elsewhere.

In many U.S. states, “at-will” employment is common, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any cause, with or without notice. This is not the case in Canada. Instead, while Canadian employers may terminate an employee, with or without cause, they must provide sufficient notice or pay in lieu of that notice.

Minimum standards exist around wages, other pay, vacation time, emergency leave and other time off, as well as other fundamental aspects of employment. In addition, both Canada and its provinces have well-established laws and regulations protecting human rights and prohibiting things such as discrimination on the basis of protected grounds.

Under most circumstances, you will be entitled to manage your company in Canada, although Canadian immigration laws will regulate your ability to work and/or reside here. Canadian immigration laws also regulate your ability to bring foreign workers into Canada. If necessary, we will introduce you to experienced and talented Immigration Law lawyers who can guide you through the process of acquiring any and all necessary work permits or visas.

Collectively, all of these laws and regulations can be quite complex and so, before hiring workers in Canada, spend some time with one of our lawyers to ensure that you will be compliant. Baker & Company’s employment lawyers will help you minimize your exposure to expensive termination payment requirements.  Call us before you hire or terminate an employee in Canada.

Baker & Company: Helping Businesses Enter Canada 

If you are planning to expand your existing business into Canada or have moved to Canada and are starting a business here, contact Baker & Company to guide you through the process. Call us at 416-777-0100 or contact us online for a consultation.

Have Questions? Contact Us

130 Adelaide Street West, Suite 3300
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5H 3P5

Phone: 416-777-0100
Fax: 416-366-3992