Facts about the Ireland Canada Relationship

Ireland and Canada are very likeminded countries. We have a strong trading relationship, we make good business partners and it is easy to collaborate.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Nancy Smyth, July 2021

The historically strong cultural links between Ireland and Canada are now matched by the strength of the economic relationship between these two countries. Canadian companies continue to grow in size and significance, in Ireland making Canadian foreign direct investment a major economic influence in this country.

The statistics below reveal the extent of the growth of the Ireland Canada relationship.

  • There are currently over 15,000 people employed by Canadian companies in Ireland.
  • There are over 75 Canadian companies operating in Ireland.
  • Ireland is particularly attractive to high growth Canadian tech companies that need to scale.1More and more Canadian companies in scaling mode such as Kobo, e-Sentire, Shopify and Press Reader have chosen Ireland to locate their European HQ.
  • The first Canadian company in Ireland was Canada Life in 1903. With over a century of Canadian investment in Ireland, other notable Canadian companies in Ireland include; Couche Tard, Brown-Thomas, Great-West Life (owner of Canada Life and Irish Life), Irving Oil, Air Canada, Shopify, Celestica and Brookfield Renewables.
  • Ireland is a gateway for Canadian companies to the EU. An ICBA member sentiment survey has revealed that strong cultural affiliations, availability of English speaking talent and connectivity are the key factors that attract Canadian investment into Ireland.

Over 4.6 million Canadians of Irish descent continue to call our country home and contribute to its success. We enjoy a close trade relationship strengthened by CETA which creates jobs and opportunities for people on both sides of the Atlantic. Our countries will continue to collaborate as members of international organisations including the UN and OECD.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, June 2020

Canada as an Export Market for Irish Companies

  • The value of Ireland’s trade surplus to Canada is over €1.70 billion 2
  • In 2020 Irish imports into Canada were valued at €2.2 billion. Organic Chemicals and pharmaceutical products are the dominant categories. 3
  • Irish companies employ over 6,000 people across Canada.Irish companies have significant representation in the following sectors in Canadian Industry; Financial Services and Fintech, Education, Software, Aerospace, Digital Media and Animation, Engineering and Food.
  • Canada is Ireland’s 12th largest trade partner and the 4th largest outside of the EU. 5
  • Over 600 Irish companies export to Canada. 6
  • At the end of 2018, the stock of Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA) in Ireland reached almost €9.9 billion, ranking Ireland as the tenth largest destination of CDIA. 7

Canada & The Irish Government

The Irish Government has committed to double its impact in Canada by 2025.8   To achieve this the Irish Government has put the following resources in place:

  • The IDA established an office in Toronto in 2019.
  • The Irish government opened a Diplomatic Consulate in Vancouver in 2019.
  • In recognition of the value of Canada as an export market for Irish companies, Enterprise Ireland opened a second office in Montreal in March 2020.

Before Covid Ireland was the 7th most popular European destination for Canadian travellers. 9   Holiday visitors from Canada to Ireland doubled between 2013-2018 reflecting the efforts made by Tourism Ireland within Canada.

Ireland is a member of the Canada-Ireland-Caribbean constituency at the IMF. Canada was helpful in representing Ireland’s needs during the during the IMF bailout negotiations, with Canada’s Finance Minister at the time, Jim Flaherty, credited with achieving favourable terms for Ireland.

What does Canadian Investment look like in Ireland?

With a business-friendly environment, a highly educated workforce, and an economy averaging growth at  4 to 5 per cent per annum, Ireland provides the perfect gateway to the EU for Canadian business.

Former Irish Ambassador to Canada, Jim Kelly, March 2020

Between 2016-2021 the following investments were made by Canadian companies into Ireland:


  • The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based NFI Group was awarded a contract to provide 45 electric buses to Ireland’s National Transport Authority in 2022, with the provision to provide an additional 155 electric buses to Ireland over the next 5 years.
  • Emerald Airlines announced it would lease six turboprop aircraft destined for its Aer Lingus Regional services from Canada’s Chorus Aviation Capital.
  • The Keys brothers of Co. Tyrone announced the 1 billion EURO sale of their plant and machinery brokerage firm, Euro auctions, to Canadian peer Ritchie Bros.
  • Canadian drone firm ZenaTech announced it would create 30 jobs in Ireland as part of its move into the Agritech sector.
  • Think Research, a leading Canadian healthtech company, announced the acquisition of Pharmapod, a leading Irish healthtech firm.
  • N’ware, a Business Applications software company from Quebec, announced that it is locating its European Headquarters in Laois creating 25 new roles.
  • Blacksquare, a global experience company headquartered in Calgary serving the Drinks industry, has chosen Dublin for its EMEA headquarters.


  • Bath Fitter, Canada’s leading bathroom refurbishment company announces the establishment of its European Business Development Centre in Limerick. This facility is Bath Fitter’s first to be located outside of North America and will lead to 42 jobs.


  • Greenfield Global, Canada’s largest producer of alcohol and fuel ethanol invested €30 million in its 40,900 sq. ft facility in Portlaoise.
  • Canadian betting company The Stars group merged with owner of Paddy Power – Flutter Entertainment to create an Irish headquartered company with annual turnover of €5billion.


  • Brookfield invested in Imagine Communications at an estimated €100million.
  • RX Source, a Canadian pharmaceutical distribution company located its European headquarters in Dublin.


  • TELUS International acquired technology BPO Voxpro for an estimated €150million.
  • Press Reader opened international headquarters in Dublin.
  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) purchased Shell’s 45% stake in Corrib Natural Gas Field at a value of €830 million.

2016 – 2013

  • Couche Tard acquired Topaz estimated at €400million.
  • Irish Life acquired by Great West Life acquires for €1.3billion.
  • Story Media acquired Brown Bag Films.
  • Irving Oil acquire Whitegate Refinery, Cork (Ireland’s only oil refinery).
  • Mark Anthony Brands invested €5.5million into Glendalough Distillery.
  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board purchased Shell’s 45% stake in Corrib Natural G, Ireland as Field – €830million.

Ireland and Canada agree on:


The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union was passed by the EU Parliament in 2017. The first year after the provisional of implementation of CETA, there was more than 30% rise in the value of goods traded between the two countries. At time of writing, Autumn 2020, 14 Member States (including the United Kingdom) have ratified CETA and the ICBA has asked the Irish government to do likewise.

Key features of CETA include:

  • Removal of 99% of customer duties.
  • Ending restrictions on open access to public procurement contracts.
  • Opening the services market.
  • Offering predictable conditions for investors.
  • Helping prevent illegal copying of EU innovations and traditional product. Certain requirements for visiting visas will be removed.

Blue Skies Air Agreement

A Blue Skies air agreement was signed between Ireland and Canada in April 2007. It allows Canadian and Irish air-carriers to provide services between cities in Canada and in Ireland and to use each other’s country as a platform to serve other destinations. Currently Aer Lingus, West Jet, Air Canada and Air Transat operate direct flights between Ireland and Canada.

Canada-Ireland Double Taxation Treaty

On 8 October 2003, a convention was signed between Canada and Ireland for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital gains, also known as the “Double Taxation Treaty”. The Treaty applies to natural persons and companies who are tax residents in Ireland and/or Canada. It governs income taxes as prescribed by the local legislations of each country. The main purpose of the Treaty is to eliminate double taxation where both Ireland and Canada retain taxing rights on items of income or gains. https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/documents/double-taxation-treaties/c/canada.pdf

Significant Collaborations between Ireland and Canada

Valentia Cable Foundation

In 2021 Ireland and Canada submit a joint application for the tentative list for the  UNESCO Heritage Status for the Valentia Island Cable Station and Cable Station in Hearts Content in Newfoundland. These sites mark where the first successful transatlantic cable was laid in 1867 and thus revolutionised global communications. https://valentiacable.com/

Ireland-Canada University Foundation

Initiated through the agency of H.E. Michael Wadsworth, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland at the time, the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) was established in 1993 by Prof. John Kelly, Dr. Craig Dobbin OC, and former President of Ireland, Dr. Patrick Hillery.  The mission of the ICUF is to support and develop the relationship between Canada and Ireland, through the organisation and facilitation of scholarly exchange between both countries. http://www.icuf.ie/

Ireland-Canada Co-Production Treaty

To encourage the co-development of audio-visual content between producers from Canada and Ireland, the Canada-Ireland Co-development Incentive for Audio-visual Projects was launched in November 2017 by the Canada Media Fund and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The Incentive consists of a partnership to promote and fund eligible audio-visual projects. Award winning co-productions which emanated from this agreement include “Room”, “Brooklyn” and “The Breadwinner” by Cartoon Films. Ireland Canada Co-Production Treaty

Canada, Emigration and the Irish Famine

From 1830, for many decades an average of 20,000 Irish immigrants arrived annually in the City of Québec, the main port of entry to Canada. This immigration started at a time when major cholera and smallpox epidemics were prevalent. To help control the spread of the diseases, in 1832 a quarantine station was established in Grosse Île, located in the St. Lawrence River downstream from the City of Québec. Between 1845 and 1849 it is believed that over 3,000 Irish people died on the island and over 5,000 are buried in the cemetery there. Quebec families adopted hundreds of Irish orphans and their descendants are among the 40 per cent of Quebecois who claim Irish ancestry. The Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada in Grosse Île commemorates the experience of Irish immigrants as they arrived into Canada.

Canada was a refuge that welcomed as much as 45% 10of the total Irish emigration in 1847. During the summer of that year almost 100,00 migrants left Ireland for Canada with over 38,000 arriving into Toronto with a population of 20,000 at that time. An emigrant hospital was opened in Toronto in 1847 to help those emigrants who had contracted typhus. Dr George Grasset and his team provided essential medical services and in doing so Dr Grasset and many other Canadian Nurses, Doctors and Hospital Orderlies lost their own lives when they too contracted typhus. The Ireland Park Foundation remembers the selfless legacy of kindness with Dr Grasset Park which was opened and dedicated in Toronto in July 2021. www.irelandparkfoundation.com

During the Famine significant contributions exceeding £20,000 were donated from the people of Toronto, Quebec, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Kingston in Ontario, Newfoundland, Miramichi in New Brunswick and Niagara to the people of Ireland. Relief committees in Toronto, London (Ontario) and Montreal sent food clothing and flour for distribution in Ireland.


The Ireland Canada Business Association is a leading Irish industry association that has the mandate of promoting and developing trade and industrial links between Ireland and Canada. The Patron of the Association is the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland and members are a select group of international businesses ranging from small to large, start-ups to established institutions. The ICBA has the active participation of Ireland and Canada’s most prominent business leaders as its core supporters and influencers. www.irelandcanada.com


  1. “How Ireland can help high growth Canadian Companies Go Global” Start Up Here Toronto 2019 – Author Deirdre Moran, SVP, IDA
  2. https://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/fact_sheet-fiche_documentaire/ireland-irlande.aspx?lang=eng
  3. https://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/fact_sheet-fiche_documentaire/ireland-irlande.aspx?lang=eng
  4. Enterprise Ireland “Going Global Exporting to Canada” www.enterprise-ireland.com
  5. Enterprise Ireland “Going Global Exporting to Canada” www.enterprise-ireland.com
  6. Enterprise Ireland “Going Global Exporting to Canada” www.enterprise-ireland.com
  7. Export Development Canada www.edc.ca
  8. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/ourwork/US-Canada-Strategy.pdf;
  9. tourismireland.com/marketing/NorthAmerica
  10. https://journals.openedition.org/mimmoc/1787?lang=en The Canadian Press and the Great Irish Famine: The Famine as an Irish, Canadian & Imperial, Global Issue