forbes best employers

Toronto company tops Forbes' list of the best employers in Canada

Pay and prestige are important factors for many job-seekers in cities like ours, but a big salary and a fancy title mean little if you hate your waking life.

People spend up to an entire third of their lives at work, by many estimates — which is a huge chunk of time to be miserable, even if you're rolling in cash.

For a wide variety of reasons including corporate culture, office space, recognition, benefits and other people, some employers are simply better to work for than others.

Some 300 companies in Canada have been deemed especially great for this purpose by Forbes based on a survey of more than 8,000 Canadians working for businesses with more than 500 employees each.

The business tome just released its annual list of Canada's best employers for 2021, compiled in partnership with the market research firm Statista and based on one single factor: How willing participants were to recommend their own employers (or other employers) to friends and family.

Toronto-based Cisco Systems Canada, the Canadian arm of an American multinational tech conglomerate, tops the list this time around, followed by the Quebec-based government agency Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Located within a huge and stunning HOK-designed suite at RBC WaterPark Place on Queen's Quay, Cisco boasts some 1,700 employees at its Canadian headquarters (out of 75,900 worldwide.)

The company offers such work perks as tuition reimbursement, employee stock discounts, birthdays off, paid time to volunteer, international job exchanges, "mind training" for creativity and focus, a "fun fund" for team building, on-site fitness centres and comprehensive health benefits including maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

Four other Toronto-based employers also made the top 10: University of Toronto (ranked fifth), the Canadian Mental Health Association (sixth), Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (seventh) and Coca-Cola (eighth.)

"It's been a difficult year to be an employer—and an employee. As a result of the pandemic, Canada’s unemployment rate is up significantly, from 5.6 per cent last year to roughly 8.6 per cent today," reads this year's ranking report.

"Still, many companies have persevered, especially those offering services much needed in these challenging times. Case in point: the Canadian Mental Health Association, which ranks sixth on our list of Canada’s Best Employers."

You can see all 300 companies and how they ranked here, or check out the top 25 below.

  1. Cisco Systems (Toronto)
  2. Environment and Climate Change Canada (Gatineau)
  3. Ubisoft (Montreal)
  4. University of Guelph (Guelph)
  5. University of Toronto (Toronto)
  6. Canadian Mental Health Association (Toronto)
  7. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts  (Toronto)
  8. Coca-Cola  (Toronto)
  9. Laval University (Québec)
  10. Hydro Québec (Montreal)
  11. Queens University (Kingston)
  12. University of Victoria (Victoria)
  13. Costco Wholesale (Ottawa)
  14. Sheridan College (Oakville)
  15. Health Canada / Santé Canada (Ottawa)
  16. Google (Toronto)
  17. Holt Renfrew (Toronto)
  18. City of Markham (Markham)
  19. Purolator (Mississauga)
  20. SickKids (Toronto)
  21. Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke)
  22. Air Transat (Montreal)
  23. McMaster University (Hamilton)
  24. City of Mississauga (Mississauga)
  25. Microsoft (Mississauga)
Lead photo by


Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Ontario sisters couldn't speak after winning $1 million lottery prize together

A brief history of that vacant building next to Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square

Canadian man discovers snowbank full of spiders and it's as terrifying as it sounds

Couple riding ATV manage to outrun police in Ontario

Police uncover $2 million in drugs and high-end vehicles in massive GTA bust

It's now been exactly 3 years since Ontario declared a state of emergency over COVID-19

Shocking number of people experiencing homelessness died on Toronto streets in 2022

Toronto police announce arrest of arsonist who looks Jared Leto's Joker