Canadian Multinationals in Ireland plan to expand workforce, increase wages and introduce hybrid work model

1 July 2021

Ireland Canada

Ahead of Canada Day on July 1st, The Ireland Canada Business Association has released the results of its annual ICBA Member Sentiment Survey. Respondents to the 2021 survey employ almost 50,000 people across Ireland and Canada.

The majority plan to invest in their workforce this year through salary increaseswellbeing & upskilling initiatives, and hiring more staff. More flexible work models to be introduced.

Calls on government to introduce more supports to facilitate remote working, more affordable housing for staff, and to become more environmentally sustainable.

In this survey, ICBA members representing Canada’s leading enterprises have given their views on the following key issues:

  • Why Canadian multinationals choose Ireland
  • Obstacles to further expansion in Ireland
  • Planned investment in their workforce in Ireland
  • Covid & the future of work and the workplace
  • ESG / Sustainability
  • CETA trade deal

The ICBA, who counts among its membership Air Canada, Shopify, PressReader, Irish Life, TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Greenfield Global, Soti, and TELUS International, released the results of its membership survey to coincide with Canada Day, the country’s globally-celebrated national Birth Day (Thursday  July 1st).

Why Canadian Multinationals choose Ireland

Canadian multinationals are increasingly choosing Ireland as a base for their European operations, with the number doubling since Brexit was first passed. Indeed for the first time in the history of the survey, members cited ‘Access to the European Market’ as the number one reason they chose to establish in Ireland. The number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% since 2018 to over 15,000. The next most popular reasons include Ireland’s competitive tax regime, the availability of talent, and the close cultural connections enjoyed by both countries.

Obstacles to further expansion

However, further expansion of these companies in Ireland is being hampered by the intense competition for talent, followed closely by salary costs and Ireland’s high cost of living.

Ireland’s housing crisis is a key area of concern – over 85% of respondents do not believe the government is doing enough to support their staff in the current housing market, with the vast majority calling for further government interventions to boost housing supply and affordability in Ireland.

Investment in the workforce

In a very positive show of support for their future plans in Ireland, 70% of respondents intend to increase their workforce this year and 67% plan to increase wages. Beyond salary increases, the key priorities are for investment are well-being (54%) and upskilling (35%).

COVID-19 & The Future of Work

The vast majority (80%) of Canadian multinationals in Ireland believe the Irish government has adequately supported businesses through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over a quarter of respondents plan to reduce office space as a result of COVID – 19 and when asked to describe how their staff will work post-pandemic:

  • 42% say staff will work 3 days in the office and 2 days remote.
  • 27% – 2 days in office, 3 days remote.
  • 8% – 4 days remote, 1 day in office.
  • 4% – 1 day remote, 4 days in office.
  • 4% – full return to 5 days in office.
  • 15% – are unsure of plans as yet.

None of the respondents plan to facilitate the permanent remote working of staff, however several identified how such a working model could and should be supported by government, suggesting that many would allow their staff work remote if the right supports were in place. Increased tax reliefs for remote workers and better broadband topped the list of suggestions. Others include:

  • Encourage (as per HR legislation) better “off line” behaviours by employers to ensure that contact with employees out of working hours is better managed.
  • Remote working considerations for employees working in other countries for Ireland office from a legal and tax perspective
  • A clear, transparent tax credit based on costs
  • Update the tax code so that PPR (principal private residence CGT relief) isn’t diminished because home used for hybrid/remote working
  • The setting up of community remote working hubs in small towns and villages where a desk can be rented online for a few hours or ad hoc days so that social isolation for remote workers can be mitigated.


60% of respondents believe the Irish government should be doing more to help them become more environmentally sustainable. 70% of respondents plan to invest in ESG initiatives (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in 2021

The CETA Trade Deal

84% of respondents indicated that they feel that CETA should be a priority – a major trade deal between Canada and the EU that will lift a number of barriers to trade between both economies. The Ireland Canada Business Association has been campaigning strongly for CETA’s ratification by government, as failure to do so will hamper Ireland’s post-Covid recovery and send the wrong signal to other investors about Ireland’s openness to doing business.

Last year alone, Ireland enjoyed a trade surplus of €1.7bn with Canada, with €2.1bn of Irish goods being exported to the country. There is no Irish businessperson who, if they were making €1.7 bn more than their partner as the result of a provisional agreement, would not formalize that agreement as quickly as possible.

Fifteen other Members States have already ratified CETA, leaving Ireland in the position of now playing catch-up with its EU counterparts.

Chris Collenette, Chair of the Ireland Canada Business Association:

“Our survey clearly shows how committed our members are to staying and investing in Ireland, despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic. These major multinationals want to continue to provide employment, increase wages and build economic and cultural bonds between our two nations. And with Brexit, the strong performance of the CETA trade agreement so far, and the opening of dedicated IDA and Enterprise Ireland offices in Canada, the opportunities for Ireland are immense.

But in order to continue to grow in Ireland, Canadian multinationals need a competitive business environment and their Irish workforces need greater support. Our members have identified lack of housing, cost of living, and competition for talent as major barriers to growth, and would also like to see more support from government in challenging areas like environmental sustainability and facilitating remote working among staff.

The Ireland Canada Business Association believes that, by addressing these key issues on a national level, Ireland can take advantage of the huge economic opportunities we have as a result of our unique position as the gateway to Europe.”

Chris Collenette is available for further comment and interview on 086 6021736

Further Info: Patrick Haughey, ICBA Media Relations 087 2394054

About the ICBA:

The ICBA is the voice of the Ireland Canada Business community. Our membership is  composed of chief executives and senior management of Canada’s leading enterprises who have located their European operations in Ireland. Since 1978 we have been connecting  executives and organizations in Canada and Ireland for the purpose of  bilateral investment, trade and entrepreneurship. As a membership organization, our members make our mission possible. They span over 20 business sectors and directly and indirectly support more than 20,000 jobs across the country and hundreds of small businesses. Our partnerships with the Canadian Embassy and the Ireland Canada Chambers informs our work.