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The Number of Businesses in Canada and Statistics for 2024

In 2024, Canada has millions of businesses operating across the country. This article provides an overview of the number of businesses in Canada and various related statistics.

A Sample of Statistics in This Article:

  • Canada has approximately 1.3 million businesses in 2024. This does not include holding companies and businesses with no employees.
  • 99.8% (1.29 million) of all businesses in Canada are small businesses
  • There are 4,000 large corporations in Canada (>500 employees)
  • There are 50,000 startups in Canada
  • Startups employ 250,000 people, which is 2% of the total private sector workforce
  • The services sector is the largest sector at 71% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • 15% of all Canadian startups are based in Toronto
  • 65% of Canadian businesses have an online presence

Overall Number of Businesses in Canada

As of 2024, Canada has approximately 1.3 million businesses. This includes all businesses from micro-businesses to large multinational corporations. You can compare this to the 33.2 million businesses in the USA.

This does not include holding companies and businesses with no employees. If you looked at the total numbers of business entities, there is 2.3 million.

Statistics on Types of Businesses

Businesses in Canada can be classified into different types based on their size, geography, and the industry they belong to. Here are some statistics about Canadian businesses grouped by size: small business, large corporation, and startup.

Statistics for Small Businesses in Canada

As of 2024, Canada has 1.29 million small businesses. These enterprises form the backbone of the Canadian economy, making up about 99.8% of all businesses in the country. Small businesses encompass a wide range of industries, including retail, services, manufacturing, and construction, and are crucial for economic diversity and resilience.

A small business is defined as any business with less than 500 employees. Small businesses employ nearly 8 million people, accounting for approximately 70% of the private sector workforce in Canada. On average, each small business employs about 6 individuals, though this number can vary significantly depending on the industry and specific business type.

In 2024, small businesses in Canada are predominantly found in the service sector, which includes professional, scientific, and technical services; healthcare and social assistance; and accommodation and food services. This sector comprises about 71% of all small businesses.

Retail trade accounts for approximately 15% of small businesses, driven by both physical stores and the growing influence of e-commerce. The construction sector represents around 8% of small businesses, while manufacturing holds about 6%, reflecting the varied nature of small business activities across different industries.

Geographically, small businesses are widespread, with high concentrations in provinces like Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. Ontario alone has nearly 500,000 small businesses, Quebec has around 250,000, British Columbia has approximately 200,000, and Alberta has about 150,000 small businesses. These provinces offer favorable economic conditions, diverse markets, and supportive business environments, attracting many entrepreneurs.

Statistics of Large Corporations in Canada

Large corporations, which have 500 or more employees, are fewer in number but have a significant impact on the economy. They often have extensive resources, international reach, and employ thousands of workers. Some well-known examples include companies like Shopify, RBC, and Bombardier.

As of 2024, there are approximately 4,000 large corporations operating in Canada. These corporations span various industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Large corporations employ a significant portion of the Canadian workforce. Collectively, these companies employ over 2 million people, which accounts for about 17.5% of the total private sector workforce in Canada. The 4,000 large corporations employ a significant number of people relative to their size.

On average, a large corporation employs around 1,500 to 3,000 workers. However, some of the largest corporations, such as RBC and Loblaws, employ tens of thousands of people. RBC, for example, has over 85,000 employees.

The market capitalization of large publicly traded corporations in Canada is also noteworthy. The combined market cap of the top 100 corporations listed on the stock market is over $2 trillion. Companies like Shopify, RBC, and TD Bank are among the highest valued.

In 2024, large corporations in Canada are predominantly concentrated in the technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail sectors, with technology leading at 20%, followed by healthcare at 15%, manufacturing at 12%, and retail at 10%.

Statistics of Startups in Canada

As of 2024, Canada is home to approximately 50,000 startups. These new businesses are often at the cutting edge of innovation, driving significant advancements in technology, healthcare, and other key sectors. Startups are characterized by their rapid growth potential and their focus on developing unique products or services that disrupt traditional markets.

Startups are a vital source of job creation in Canada. Collectively, they employ around 250,000 people, which constitutes about 2% of the total private sector workforce. The average startup typically employs between 5 to 15 people in its early stages, although successful startups can grow rapidly and significantly increase their workforce. This growth not only provides jobs but also stimulates economic activity in related sectors such as real estate, marketing, and legal services.

In 2024, venture capital investment in Canada is expected to reach approximately $10 billion. This reflects a slight increase from 2023, where the total venture capital investment was around $8 billion. This funding supports the development of innovative products and services and helps startups scale their operations. The technology sector continues to attract the largest share of venture capital, with significant investments in artificial intelligence, fintech, and biotech startups. Additionally, emerging sectors like clean energy and sustainable technologies are seeing increasing interest from investors.

Startups are concentrated in key innovation hubs across Canada. Toronto in Ontario remains the most prominent, with approximately 15% of all Canadian startups based there, benefiting from a robust ecosystem of venture capital firms, incubators, and tech talent. Other significant startup hubs include Vancouver, which hosts about 10% of Canadian startups, and cities like Montreal, Ottawa, and Calgary, each contributing around 5-7%. These regions provide a supportive environment for startups with access to funding, talent, and networking opportunities.

Statistics on Business Sectors in Canada

The sections below cover the key sectors and industries in Canada along with statistics for 2024.

Services Sector

The services sector is the largest and most influential part of the Canadian economy, contributing approximately 71% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This sector encompasses a wide range of industries that provide essential services to both consumers and businesses.

  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: This industry employs over 1.5 million people and generates about $200 billion in annual revenue. It includes legal services, accounting, engineering, and consulting firms.
  • Healthcare and Social Assistance: One of the fastest-growing sectors, healthcare employs more than 2.5 million people and contributes over $300 billion annually. The sector’s growth is driven by an aging population and advancements in medical technology.
  • Accommodation and Food Services: Employing around 1.2 million individuals, hospitality sector generates annual revenues exceeding $100 billion. It includes restaurants, bars, hotels, and similar establishments, playing a significant role in the economy.

Retail and Wholesale Trade

The retail and wholesale trade sector is crucial for the distribution of goods from producers to consumers and businesses.

  • Retail Trade: The retail sector employs approximately 2 million people. In 2024, it is expected to generate around $700 billion in sales, driven by both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms. Major contributors include large retail chains like Loblaws, Canadian Tire, and Walmart Canada.
  • Wholesale Trade: Employs about 800,000 people, generating over $500 billion in annual sales. This sector includes businesses that sell goods in bulk to retailers, industrial, commercial, and professional business users.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing remains a cornerstone of the Canadian economy, significantly contributing to exports and technological advancements.

  • Employment and Revenue: The manufacturing sector employs around 1.7 million people and generates more than $300 billion annually. Key industries include automotive, aerospace, electronics, and machinery manufacturing.
  • Export Contribution: Manufacturing accounts for 45% of Canada’s exports, with the sector expected to export goods worth over $250 billion in 2024.

Construction

The construction sector is essential for infrastructure development and housing.

  • Employment and Revenue: Employs approximately 1.4 million people, generating around $200 billion annually. The sector includes residential, commercial, and infrastructure construction.
  • Residential vs. Commercial: Residential construction makes up about 50% of the sector’s revenue, while commercial construction and infrastructure projects account for the remaining 50%.

Technology

The technology sector is one of the most dynamic and innovative sectors, driving significant economic growth.

  • Employment and Revenue: Employs around 1 million people and generates over $200 billion annually. Key areas include software development, hardware manufacturing, telecommunications, and information services.
  • Research and Development: Companies in this sector invest over $20 billion annually in R&D, leading to advancements in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and other high-tech fields.

Financial Services

The financial services sector is a major pillar of the Canadian economy, including banking, insurance, and investment services.

  • Employment and Revenue: Employs around 800,000 people and generates approximately $150 billion annually. Major players include banks like RBC, investment firms like Brookfield Asset Management, and insurance companies like Manulife.
  • Economic Role: Facilitates investments, loans, and savings that are essential for economic stability and growth, influencing other sectors.

Agriculture

Agriculture, while smaller in comparison to other sectors, is critical for food production and exports.

  • Employment and Revenue: Directly employs about 300,000 people and supports millions more through related industries. The sector generates around $40 billion annually.
  • Export Contribution: Agricultural exports are expected to reach $60 billion in 2024, with key products being canola, wheat, and beef.

Energy

The energy sector is crucial for powering the economy and supporting other industries.

  • Employment and Revenue: Employs approximately 600,000 people and generates over $150 billion annually. The sector includes oil, natural gas, coal, renewable energy, and utilities.
  • Renewable Energy Growth: Renewable energy is the fastest-growing segment, with significant investments in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. By 2024, renewable energy is projected to account for 20% of total Canadian energy production.

Payments for Businesses in Canada

In 2024, credit card acceptance remains a cornerstone of payment options for businesses in Canada. Approximately 80% of Canadian businesses with employees accept credit card payments, reflecting their widespread adoption across various industries. This high rate of acceptance is driven by the convenience and security that credit cards offer to both merchants and consumers.

Businesses, ranging from small local shops to large national retailers, benefit from increased sales and customer satisfaction by providing this payment option. Credit card transactions account for nearly 45% of all non-cash payments in Canada, highlighting their dominance in the payment landscape. Additionally, advancements in payment technology, such as mobile credit card readers and online payment gateways, have made it easier than ever for businesses of all sizes to integrate credit card processing into their operations.

Online Payments and eCommerce Statistics

The growth of e-commerce has led to widespread adoption of online payment systems. As of 2024, over 65% of Canadian businesses have an online presence, and these businesses rely heavily on secure and efficient online payment gateways like Clearly Payments, PayPal, Stripe, and Square. These platforms offer robust security features, ensuring safe transactions for both merchants and customers.

The rise of subscription-based models and digital services has also driven the adoption of recurring billing systems, which automate payments and improve cash flow management for businesses. Additionally, the integration of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options has become increasingly popular, allowing customers to make purchases and pay in installments, thus boosting sales and customer acquisition.

The Use of Cash and Checks by Businesses in Canada

Despite the rise of digital and innovative payment solutions, traditional payment methods like cash and checks remain in use, particularly among certain demographics and industries.

In 2024, about 35% of small businesses still accept cash payments, and approximately 15% of businesses handle check transactions. Cash payments are common in sectors such as food services, retail, and personal services, where immediate transactions are preferred.

Checks are often used for business-to-business (B2B) transactions, especially in industries like construction and professional services, where large payments and detailed records are necessary.

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