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The Largest Employers in Canada (By Headcount)

In Canada, by far the largest employer, by number of employees, is the government one way or the other.

Indeed, the federal government is the largest single employer in Canada. As of 2023, the federal public service of Canada employs 357,247 individuals (source).

parliament hill in ottawa canada
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In each province, the largest employer is, again, the government. As of 2008 (the last year the federal government’s statistics agency prepared these statistics), government (also known as “public sector”) employers employed the most people each in province (source):

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 57,701 government employees
  • Prince Edward Island: 17,009 government employees
  • Nova Scotia: 119,352 government employees
  • New Brunswick: 84,408 government employees
  • Quebec: 776,238 government employees
  • Ontario: 1,172,096 government employees
  • Manitoba: 158,243 government employees
  • Saskatchewan: 136,004 government employees
  • Alberta: 305,505 government employees
  • British Columbia: 372,982 government employees
  • Yukon Territory: 6,558 government employees
  • Northwest Territories: 10,457 government employees
  • Nunavut: 5,828 government employees

“Government” is a vastly diverse employer, employing millions of Canadians in the following non-exhaustive different areas:

  • Federal general government agencies
  • Provincial (or territorial) general government agencies
  • Health and social service institutions
  • Universities and colleges
  • Local (municipal) general government
  • Local school boards
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Outside of government, the following private sector organizations are the largest employers in Canada by number of employees:

Largest Private Sector Employers in Canada

The top 25 biggest employers in Canada by number of employees are:

  1. George Weston Ltd.: 221,285 employees
  2. Loblaw Companies Ltd.: 221,000 employees
  3. Brookfield Corporation: 202,500 employees
  4. Magna International: 171,000 employees
  5. Empire Company Ltd.: 131,000 employees
  6. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.: 128,000 employees
  7. Telus Corporation: 108,500 employees
  8. Toronto Dominion Bank (TD): 101,394 employees
  9. Metro Inc.: 95,000 employees
  10. Royal Bank Of Canada (RBC): 94,398 employees
  11. Scotiabank: 91,030 employees
  12. CGI: 91,000 employees
  13. Telus International: 76,752 employees
  14. WSP Global: 67,300 employees
  15. CIBC: 48,673 employees
  16. BCE Inc.: 47,000 employees
  17. Rogers Communications Inc.: 26,650 employees
  18. Canadian National Railway Company (CN): 26,350 employees
  19. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.: 23,650 employees
  20. Manulife Financial Corp.: 23,500 employees
  21. Air Canada: 23,300 employees
  22. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.: 21,500 employees
  23. Sun Life Financial Inc.: 21,325 employees
  24. Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.: 20,450 employees
  25. Shaw Communications Inc.: 20,000 employees​ (source).


What does this say about Canada that our largest employer is the government? Not much. Even in America, government is the largest employer. This is a standard phenomenon.

Obviously Canada needs government employees to teach our children, police our neighborhoods and care for our sick, among thousands of other things. I wonder though, does Canada employ too great a percent of people in government versus the private sector relative to other leading countries? Does PEI, a province of just over 160,000 people, need nearly 20,000 government workers? Let me know in the comments.