Tipping in Canada: When and how much to tip

During the pandemic lockdown period in Canada, some social norms were lost as people spent more time at home with their roommates and close relatives.

One of those norms was tipping for meals at restaurants. Dining out has become a relic of the pre-pandemic world, with restaurant dining rooms closed for months and patios largely inaccessible during winter.

Now that restaurants across the country have reopened for indoor dining again, some Canadians may wonder if social rules about tipping have changed in the last couple of years. For example, data from Restaurants Canada shows that Canadians tip at a higher percentage of their restaurant bills compared to pre-pandemic.

Julie Blais Comeau,’s Chief Etiquette Officer, offers tipping advice to clarify the latest engagement rules.

Is it compulsory to tip in restaurants?

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

“It’s a collective bargaining agreement that everyone in society makes or recognizes,” Bre Comeau said in a telephone interview with on Friday. It should be very clear as it will be tip compensation. “

Blais Comeau said under current social norms, leaving a restaurant without tipping the server is a big mistake.

“Even if the service wasn’t great, tipping is still customary. You can tip less, and you can make sure you tell them why,” she said.

“Some people choose not to tip anymore, but I think it’s a lack of awareness of the society you’re in…and forgets that you’re a citizen. The collective factor, the social factor. , that’s etiquette. Etiquette evolves with the times.”

What are the standard tips?

According to Blais Comeau, the standard restaurant tip across Canada is 15% to 18% of the bill before tax. She said 15% is good in most cases. However, people who want to build a good relationship with the establishment (for example, people who frequently have business meetings there) may wish to tip more. Likewise, good service may require a higher tip.

According to Blais Comeau, diners should tip even if the service is faulty.

“If the service is not good, even if the service is not good, there should be a payment just because the service was received,” she said. Because if you don’t understand it, you can’t fix it. “

What if the debit machine asks for a higher tip?

More and more restaurants across the country are programming their debit machines to offer tip percentages above the standard 15 to 18 percent, Blais Comeau said. She said people should tip more if they wanted, but she said it wasn’t mandatory.

“Don’t be intimidated by a 20-25% offer for a machine,” she said. “You always have the option to personalize it, customize it and enter 15%.”

Should I tip for haircuts or other personal services?

Blais Comeau said it is customary to tip for services such as haircuts, manicures, pedicures and taxis, though not as much as in restaurants.

“Usually around 10% for all these services,” she said.

She warned that it would not be appropriate to offer a financial tip for treatment prescribed by a doctor or for which the person providing the service may be subject to the Code of Ethics. But this also applies to tipping teachers, coaches, health care workers, and anyone for whom a financial tip could be mistaken for a bribe.

Are there restaurant rules?

Tipping etiquette is a two-way street, and Blais Comeau said restaurant staff should not threaten customers into tipping or reprimand them for not leaving a proper tip.

She also believes it is wrong for restaurants to label certain tip percentages on debit terminals as “good,” “excellent,” or “excellent.”

“The first time I was shown a terminal that said ‘Wow’ or ‘Wow’, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a grown woman,'” she said. “I came to a restaurant knowing that I should tip, but I don’t want to be guided in an extra way.”

Tipping in Canada: When and how much to tip

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