About working in BC

Gain a unique experience while you are in British Columbia by working in your community.

General information

As an international student coming to Canada you must have enough money, without needing to work, to be able to live and pay your bills while you are studying.

However, in some situations, you may be able to work during and/or after your studies to gain experience in Canadian work settings, help you get to know your community, and earn extra money.

Work experience can help you prepare for your career, gain exposure to the Canadian workplace, earn extra money, and form a closer connection to the local community.

There are a number of employment standards that you should be aware of:

  • International student workers are protected by employment standards.
  • Employees have the right to know about hazards of where you are working, the right to participate in health and safety activities, and the right to refuse unsafe work.
  • BC has a minimum wage requirement for all workers, including international student workers. This means you cannot be paid less than this wage per hour of work.
  • You are not allowed to “volunteer” hours at your workplace. If you are working, you must be paid at least minimum wage.
  • You cannot work more than five hours in a row without at least a 30-minute break. This break may be unpaid.

Social insurance number

Anyone working in Canada requires a social insurance number (SIN). Without a SIN, an employer cannot legally pay an employee.

You must apply for a SIN from Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD). Apply in person at a Service Canada office for the card and allow several weeks for processing. A SIN card, which will expire at the same time as your work permit, will be issued.

You must show the card, or proof that you have applied for the card, within three days of the start date of your employment, and you may work during the waiting period.

Income deductions

Once you start a job and are paid a salary or hourly wage, income tax will be deducted from your paycheque. There are also standard deductions taken for employment insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

For information on income taxes and employment insurance, visit the Canada Revenue Agency.