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Navigating New Norms: Essential Etiquette for the First-Time Filipino Expatriate Workers in Canada

03 Oct 2023

As one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups, over 800,000 individuals of Filipino descent have found a home in Canada, knitting a rich narrative of resilience, community, and vibrant culture in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.


Navigating a new country comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities. Many Filipino expats who move to Canada come from humble beginnings. They work hard, take up physically demanding jobs to earn a good living, and send money to Philippines from Canada to support their families. Hence, understanding the local norms and etiquette can be the key to forging meaningful connections and building a successful life. 

This guide aims to be your compass, helping you to adapt swiftly to a new land and navigate the Canadian work and social landscape quickly and confidently.

Navigating the Canadian Workplace

For a successful professional life in Canada as a Filipino expat, first, understanding Canadian workplace culture is important. Let’s guide you on how you can adjust to the new workplace in Canada as an overseas Filipino.

Understanding the Canadian Politeness

Canadians are known for their politeness, which sometimes extends to a level where they avoid pointing out someone's mistakes in the workplace to avoid distress. As a Filipino expatriate, it is essential to understand this aspect of Canadian culture to navigate the workplace efficiently. Here are some points to consider:

         Personal Space

Canadians value personal space, maintaining a distance of two to three feet during conversations. Being mindful of this can help in building respectful professional relationships.


The standard greeting involves a firm handshake coupled with eye contact. They reserve light hugs for good friends and family, and it is always safe to stick to handshakes in a professional setting.

The Ubiquitous "Sorry"

In Canada, "sorry" is used quite liberally to bridge many socially awkward situations. It doesn't always imply admitting wrongdoing but often indicates a respectful acknowledgement of the other person. Here are some nuances:


They might say "sorry" when interrupting a conversation or accidentally bumping into someone. It is a respectful way to maintain a harmonious interaction.


Saying "sorry" is more about showing that you harbour no ill feelings rather than admitting a mistake. Using "sorry" to smooth over minor hiccups in daily interactions is a cornerstone of Canadian culture.

Punctuality: A Valued Trait

The Canadian workplace values punctuality. You show professionalism and regard for others' time. Keep these tips in mind:

         Arrival Timings

Arriving five to ten minutes early for a job interview or an appointment is seen positively. However, being too early might create an awkward situation.

         Meeting Deadlines

Adhering to deadlines is crucial as it showcases your efficiency and helps build trust with your colleagues and superiors.

             Being on time helps you build credibility and trust, so services like ACE Money Transfer provide customers                    with the quickest and most reliable ways to send money to Philippines to help you fulfil your commitments                    towards your family. 

Navigating Canadian Social Norms

Adapting to Canadian workplace culture is critical, and it demands learning and ensuring several aspects. Navigating Canadian social norms is equally important in this regard, as without understanding everyday life in such a country with a multicultural lifestyle, it won’t be easy to properly adjust to the new workplace in Canada as an expat. Here are a few tips to help you in this regard.

Interacting with Different Age Groups and Authorities

Understanding the dynamics of interacting with various age groups and authorities can be a stepping stone to a smooth social life in Canada. Here are some pointers:

         Reverence for Elders

Showing respect to older people is a universal value that holds a special place in Canadian society. Offering your seat to an older adult will be seen as a sign of respect.

         Engaging with Authorities

Canadians are encouraged to question authorities, but it is done respectfully and within legal frameworks. Being an expat, you must know your rights and exercise them cautiously.

         Child-Friendly Approach

Canada is a child-friendly country. Acknowledging children and showing kindness can often warm the hearts of Canadian parents.

Communication Etiquette

Communication is one of the most critical aspects required to excel in any field for all professionals worldwide. Besides a professional life, good communication helps you live a peaceful and smooth life in a multicultural society. Consider the following when living in Canada to improve your communication.

         Scheduling Calls

When planning to make a call, be it professional or personal, adhering to a reasonable time frame is expected to avoid causing inconvenience.

         Sensitive Topics

Steering clear discussions on sensitive topics such as politics and religion in casual conversations can be a safe bet.

         Avoiding Rude Gestures

Being conscious of rude gestures in Canadian culture can help avoid misunderstandings.

         Appreciation for Privacy

Canadians have a high regard for privacy. Respecting individuals' boundaries and avoiding prying questions can set a positive tone in your interactions.

Tipping Etiquette

Understanding the tipping etiquette can guide you gracefully navigating the Canadian dining scene. Here are some guidelines:

         Restaurants and Cafes

Tipping around 15-20% of the bill is common in sit-down restaurants and cafes.

         Service Providers

Offering tips to service providers like hairdressers and taxi drivers is a gesture of appreciation for their service.

         Delivery Services

When availing delivery services, a tip for the delivery person is a kind gesture to acknowledge their service.

As you gracefully navigate Canadian social norms, do not forget that evenings in Canada offer a vibrant landscape to unwind and enjoy. To maximise your leisure time, take advantage of this detailed guide on How to Enjoy NightLife in Canada as an Overseas Filipino.

The Way Forward

As you embark on this new chapter in Canada, blending in seamlessly with the local customs and etiquette is pivotal in enhancing your experience in this diverse nation. Leveraging the insights shared in this guide will facilitate a smoother transition and help build lasting relationships with the locals.

Moreover, staying connected with your loved ones in the Philippines remains a priority. Utilising services that facilitate easy and reliable ways to send money online to Philippines from Canada can be a cornerstone in nurturing those bonds. ACE Money Transfer is a trustworthy ally in this endeavour, ensuring your hard-earned money reaches your loved ones safely and swiftly.

As we wrap up this guide, we encourage you to embrace the Canadian culture with an open heart while cherishing your Filipino roots. Remember, the amalgamation of diverse cultures makes Canada a vibrant country. Here's to new beginnings and a fruitful journey in Canada filled with learning and rich experiences. Let's forge ahead, creating a path sprinkled with understanding, respect, and mutual growth.


What are some important aspects of Canadian workplace etiquette that Filipino expatriate workers should be aware of?

Understanding Canadian politeness is essential. Canadians value personal space and maintain a distance of two to three feet during conversations. Punctuality is highly regarded; arriving 5-10 minutes early for appointments is seen positively. The word "sorry" is used liberally, often to maintain harmonious interactions rather than admitting a mistake.

How should Filipino expatriate workers approach communication in Canada, both in the workplace and socially?

A firm handshake coupled with eye contact is the standard greeting in the workplace. Canadians avoid pointing out mistakes to prevent distress, so being receptive to indirect feedback is beneficial. Socially, respecting individuals’ privacy and avoiding prying questions is essential. When planning calls, adhere to a reasonable time frame to avoid inconvenience, and steer clear of sensitive topics like politics and religion in casual conversations.

What is the tipping etiquette in Canada?

In Canada, it is common to tip around 15-20% of the bill in sit-down restaurants and cafes. Tips are also appreciated by service providers such as hairdressers and taxi drivers. When using delivery services, offering a tip to the delivery person is a kind gesture.

How can Filipino expatriate workers maintain a respectful approach towards different age groups and authorities in Canada?

Showing respect to older individuals, including offering your seat to an older adult, is appreciated. While Canadians are encouraged to question authorities, it should be done respectfully and within legal frameworks. Being kind and acknowledging children is also seen positively, as Canada is a child-friendly country.

How can Filipino expatriate workers ensure smooth financial transactions while living in Canada?

To ensure smooth financial transactions and fulfil commitments towards family in the Philippines, utilising reliable services like ACE Money Transfer can be beneficial. It provides a quick and trustworthy way to send money online from Canada to the Philippines, helping to maintain strong bonds with loved ones.

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