Written by Lisa Hulet, VP of Business Development, Sirva

A look back

In the 1990’s in Canada, companies primarily relocated middle-aged employees (typically men) accompanied by their spouse and children. They were typically offered a Guaranteed Home Sale program, and the relocation packages were quite robust.

The companies that relocated most frequently were Canada’s five chartered banks, oil companies, and pharmaceutical companies. Resistance to relocating was almost unheard of and offering spousal support was considered “out there” as a benefit.

Renters were considered less than equal to homeowners – at a late 1980’s to early 90’s conference of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), there was a session titled “Renters are People Too.”

Relocation Management Companies (RMCs) earned their bread and butter from rich home sale programs. 

How our industry has changed, particularly in this post-pandemic world!

Prior to the pandemic, Guarantee Home Sale Programs were on the decline. Marketing Assistance Only and Managed Capped moves were the norm, and one-way international permanent moves were increasing while assignment-based relocations were declining.

Where we are now

Today, employees expect choice and flexibility in their benefits. Many worked remotely during the pandemic, and they liked it. Their work-life balance was better and flexibility in the workforce became a mantra. With workforces becoming more flexible, GM is now a key business strategy. Canada is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers and have set immigration goals to bring them in. Mobility policies need to be part of the recruitment strategy, and enhanced destination support is key.

In 2023, we are seeing an increase in companies changing their relocation policies completely, wanting their policies to be both flexible and cost effective. Core-Flex policies are becoming extremely popular, and full benefit packages are typically only being offered to senior leadership. We are also seeing a focus on Executive VIP programs, which companies are willing to pay for to ensure the success of key leadership. As in the pre-pandemic years, there are fewer assignments and more one-way permanent moves, with fewer of the benefits that are common to long-term assignments.

The Canadian Government passed legislation effective January 1st, 2023, “Prohibition on the purchase of residential property by Non-Canadians Act.” This legislation was in response to a surge of offshore investors buying properties and leaving them vacant in Canada’s major cities, particularly Toronto, Ontario, and Vancouver British Columbia. This had huge ramifications for the local housing markets.

However, according to CERC‘s recent survey, employers feel that the legislation will have a negative impact and deter foreign nationals from relocating to Canada. According to Steve Cryne, President and CEO of CERC, “this is an unneeded strategy that is already causing friction in the labour market, and employers urge the Canadian Government to change this new legislation.” Many foreign nationals who relocate to Canada wish to purchase a home, and under the new legislation, they cannot purchase a property for two years. The relocation industry in Canada, in partnership with CERC, are working together to lobby the Canadian government to change this legislation. 

Canada is still an attractive country to relocate to and US visa hurdles are pushing more companies to relocate foreign talent to Canada. According to a survey produced by immigration services firm Envoy Global Inc., Canada is the top destination to relocate foreign workers, with 62% of responding companies choosing to send workers here.

RES Forum research

This piece is from the RES Forum’s North America regional research special, which you can download here.


About Sirva

Sirva Worldwide, Inc. provides HR and mobility professionals with the resources, guidance, and support they need to achieve the best possible relocation for talent, and for the companies that move them. As a leading global relocation management and moving services company, we bring together personalized program solutions, expansive global reach, innovative technology, and an unmatched supply chain to transform businesses of any size and empower talent moving to their next opportunity. From corporate relocation and household goods to home sale and commercial moving and storage, our portfolio of brands (including Sirva, Allied, northAmerican, Global Van Lines, Alliance, Sirva Mortgage and SMARTBOX) provide everything needed to move talent and deliver experience.