Most Canadians work in the service industries as teachers, clerks, salespeople, doctors, nurses and restaurant workers. The service industries have grown dramatically over the past four decades. Over the same period, the percentage of people who farm, fish, mine or log has decreased.

Most jobs require employees to work about 35 hours a week. Traditionally, employees worked 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, with Saturday and Sunday as holidays. This is no longer the rule. Some people can choose the hours they work. Some people do shift work. Some people work from their homes and "telecommute" by sending their work to the office electronically. An increasing number of Canadians are self-employed and set their own hours.

Canadian employees and employers often contribute to employment insurance and retirement plans. Employment insurance helps people who have lost their jobs by providing temporary income. Women are considered equal to men under Canadian law. Women make up 45% of the work force in Canada, and all careers are open to women.

Canada once exported its natural resources in their original state. It exported wheat from the prairies, metals and coal from the mines, and logs from its huge forests.

Today, most of Canada’s raw materials are processed to some extent before they are exported. Trees are cut into shingles, made into lumber, or used to make pulp and paper products. Iron ore is smelted into steel, which is used to make cars and car parts. Cars and high-technology products are major exports. Canadian engineering expertise is another export. Canadian engineering firms are involved in projects around the world. Canadians are also known for their expertise in telecommunications.

People in the Atlantic Provinces once supported their families by fishing and, in Nova Scotia, by coal mining. Today the cod fisheries are in decline and the mines are closing. Young people are leaving the Atlantic Provinces to look for work in Ontario’s offices and manufacturing plants or Alberta’s oil and gas industry. There is hope that the oil discovered off the Atlantic coast will bring new job opportunities and encourage young people to stay in the Atlantic Provinces.

Education, especially postsecondary education, is considered essential to finding a job that pays well. There are limited opportunities for people who have only a high-school diploma. Workers are also expected to continue to upgrade their knowledge and skills on the job. Language and computer skills are necessary for many jobs. Canadian industries also need people who are skilled in specialized trades, such as welders, electricians and millwrights.

  Did you know?
There are 30 billion honeybees at work in Canada. Their hard work has turned Canada into one of the top five honey producers in the world.

  Did you know?
The one-dollar coin is called the "Loonie" because of the image of a loon on one side. When the two-dollar coin was minted, Canadians called it the "Toonie."