World View: Focus on Canada

Most training in Canada runs over a two-day period, with participants given needs assessment materials prior to the program.

By Dr. Neil Orkin, President, Global Training Systems

Niagara Falls, hockey, diversity, fairness, low crime rates, incredible wildlife, Michael J. Fox, clean and beautiful cities—Canada is famous for all that and more.

The population of Canada is more than 34 million and growing. People the world over are attracted to this country for its freedom and opportunities. Canada borders the U.S. and actually spans a larger land area than the U.S. Through a variety of trade agreements, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade between the two countries has boomed. Canada has the needed business infrastructure expected by U.S. companies, and its official languages are English and French.

The production of goods and services is welcomed, and an educated, affluent population exists to purchase and produce them. As in the United States, in Canada:

  • The individual is respected and recognized in organizations.
  • The market is acknowledged. Canada has natural resources, modern business facilities, and a strong political system.

Because of its location, languages, and business-friendly culture, Canada is a desirable place to do business in. Training in Canada is very similar to training in the U.S. But there are differences that need to be addressed to attain training success in Canada:

Language: In much of the country, your programs will be conducted in English. Canadian English is similar to American English, and trainers will need to make minimal adjustments to their delivery. But when training in the French-speaking parts of Quebec, for example, you will need a trainer who can speak French, so having training materials prepared in both French and English is a good idea.

Canadian cultural differences: Although Canada is in North America, there is a major British influence from the country’s past history. As a result, Canadians can be more reserved than Americans. In addition, the Canadian government provides its citizens with a large “safety net” through its health-care, unemployment, and retirement programs and reasonably priced higher education system. Canadians accept higher taxation to have access to these programs.

There can be sensitivity toward being compared to the U.S. In addition, because many global organizations—including American firms—have ownership in Canadian firms, Canadians may feel that foreign firms are “trying to take over.”

Training in Canada

Training programs are offered throughout Canada, usually on-site at the company or in area hotels. Most training runs over a two-day period, with participants given needs assessment materials prior to the program. This allows trainers to best tailor the experience for those participating.

Your training costs in Canada could be slightly less expensive than in the U.S. If you need to ship materials, these costs also will be reasonable.

More good news: Material can be delivered in a similar fashion as is done in the U.S. If it is an English-speaking group, your speed and tone of voice will be as you are used to. Trainees work well in groups but are also fine with being “singled out” as there is a place for the individual in this culture. Remember to be organized with your objectives. As a trainer, you will serve as the facilitator of knowledge.

Ample skills practice, case study analysis, and participants bringing real examples of work challenges they’ve faced in an adult learning environment will work best. Small group work is appreciated.

With a literacy rate of more than 99 percent, this educated workforce can help your firm build a significant global advantage. Now is the time.

Dr. Neil Orkinis president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders.