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HomeCommunityCanadian Culture and HeritageThe Culture of Tipping in Canada

The Culture of Tipping in Canada

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Moving to Canada from any part of the world is always a welcome development for newcomers. Canada is ranked #1 in the Best Countries for Quality-of-Life index, over Denmark and Sweden. As our numbers swell, so does our pride because of the value we place on multiculturalism and the contribution of immigrants to the growth of the nation’s economy.

Adjusting to Life in Canada
Canada continues to vote more of the federal immigration agency’s budget toward settlement programs. In spite of this however, many immigrants struggle to find their footing in Canada, majorly because of poor cultural integration.

One thing immigrants struggle with is the culture of tipping. Let’s face it. Most of us immigrants never tipped as a standard back in our country of origin. For instance, in Nigeria, offering a tip is synonymous with offering bribes. Except of course in some rare occasions where you ask a waiter to keep the change.

History of Tipping in Canada
Tipping is a voluntary but an accepted social culture, which came about because most of the service providers received low pay and relied on tips to increase their earnings. With the passage of time, tipping became an acceptable custom, at least in the service industry.

Where Tipping is Expected
Service providers in the food industry, hospitality and transportation service – restaurants and bars (not liquor stores). In essence, waiters, bar maids, hotel attendants, housekeeper or chambermaid, doorman, taxi driver, hairdressers, cleaners, and so on, will expect you to give them a tip after they provide you a service.

Tipping Done Right
The biggest way to show somebody you are not happy with their service is to not offer a tip. Meaning that it is not mandatory, it is a way of validating and rewarding quality service. So, what’s the standard for tipping?

Usually, 15-20 percent on the total bill before tax, less for poor service and more for exceptional service. Or simply multiply your goods and service tax (GST) by three. However, some over tippers give as much as 35-50 percent! It is entirely up to the tipper to determine what to give. Also, many restaurants may charge an automatic 15-18 percent for larger groups. Be sure to check if a tip is included in the bill, as it is not necessary to tip on top of this.

What if I Don’t Tip?
In Canada, not leaving a tip is seen as impolite. It could turn out to be embarrassing. Some people get very upset. It has even been reported that some restaurants (usually family-owned) won’t take you back. Forgetting to properly tip the maid, for example, is one of the biggest faux pas made by tourists.

Tips are usually shared. Front end staff who get tips share with back-end staff like the kitchen staff, with a tiny percentage going to the management staff.

The Final Word
Giving tips in Canada is a social culture. There are places where it is expected so give away, when you see the little glass box with “Tip” written on it. Or even when you see it on a POS machine. Quickly do your math and tip as appropriate.

Welcome to Canada!

Credit: Kristen ManyBears shared her insights on tipping with the Immigrant Life community.

Did you have any funny learning moment with tipping? Share your experience below in the comment!

Culled from Episode 60 of The Immigrant life Podcast.

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