Tipping in Canada: when and how much to tip

During pandemic-induced lockdowns in Canada, some social norms have been dropped, with people spending more time at home with roommates or immediate family.

One such standard was tipping on meals in restaurants. With restaurant dining rooms closed for months and patios largely inaccessible during the winter months, restaurants have become a relic of the pre-pandemic world.

Now that restaurants across the country are open again for indoor dining, some Canadians might wonder if society’s rules on tipping have changed in the past two or three years. For example, data from Restaurants Canada shows that Canadians tip a higher percentage of their restaurant bills than before the pandemic.

To help clarify the latest rules of engagement, Julie Blais Comeau, head of etiquette at etiquettejulie.com, offers some tipping tips.


Although tipping in restaurants isn’t common in some parts of the world, such as Europe, Blais Comeau said it’s an ingrained cultural practice in Canada and part of the informal social contract. that people live together here. This is not a legal requirement, but it is a practice that service industry workers rely on for part of their income.

« It’s a collective agreement that everyone in this company does or acknowledges, » Blais Comeau said in an interview with CTVNews.ca by phone Friday. would be that tip compensation, so that should be very clear. »

By today’s social norms, Blais Comeau said leaving the restaurant without tipping your server would be a major faux pas.

« Even though the service wasn’t good, there’s still this convention about this custom of tipping. You can definitely tip less, and then be sure to mention why, » she said. .

“There are people who choose not to tip anymore and I think that’s not acknowledging the society you’re in…and forgetting that you’re a citizen. This element of collectivity, this element of society, is what etiquette is. The label evolves over time. »


Blais Comeau said the standard tip for restaurants in Canada is between 15 and 18% of the bill, before taxes. She said 15 percent is appropriate in most cases. However, anyone who wants to establish a good relationship with an establishment — for example, someone who often holds business meetings there — might want to tip a higher amount. Similarly, exceptional service might merit a higher tip.

Even if the service is imperfect, said Blais Comeau, diners should still tip.

« When the service is not appropriate, when the service is not good, there should still be payment because you have been served, » she said. “You can go down to maybe 10%. But the most important thing is to mention it to the manager, because if they don’t know, they can’t fix the problem.”


Blais Comeau said a growing number of restaurants across the country are programming their debit machines to suggest tip percentages above the standard 15-18%. She said people should tip more if they want to, but it’s not a requirement.

« Don’t be intimidated by this suggestion of 20-25% on the machine, » she said. “There is always this option where you can customize it, personalize it and grab 15%.”


Blais Comeau said it’s customary to tip on services such as haircuts, manicures, pedicures and taxi rides, but not to the same degree as in restaurants.

« It’s usually around 10% for all of these services, » she said.

She warned that it is not appropriate to offer a monetary tip for any treatment prescribed by a doctor or for which the person providing the service might be subject to a code of ethics. The same goes for tips for teachers, coaches, healthcare workers, and anyone for whom a monetary tip might be mistaken for a bribe.


Tipping etiquette works both ways, and Blais Comeau said restaurant staff should never bully customers into tipping, or reprimand them for not leaving an adequate tip.

She also considers it a faux pas when restaurants assign labels like “good,” “excellent,” and “excellent” to certain tip percentages on a debit terminal.

« The first time I was presented with a terminal with (the words) ‘wow’ and ‘awesome,’ I was like, ‘Oh my god. I am a grown woman,” she said. “I came to the restaurant knowing that I had to tip, but I certainly don’t want to be guided in any extra way.”


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