What’s the big deal about being on time? Why do you need to be punctual in Canada?

Read Original Version (CLB5+) You are reading the Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Why is it important to be on time in Canada?

Is it normal for you to come to an appointment 15-30 minutes late? This is normal in my culture. We know that being late is wrong but it is not that bad. Being late is considered a minor thing.

Why is being late a big deal in Canada?

The cultural concept of time

How people see time is related to culture. “High context” cultures have a flexible view of time. “Low context cultures” observe strict rules about time.

High context cultures

– Examples are countries in East Asia or Latin America.

  • Time is cyclical (it goes around). Time that passes will come again.
  • Schedules are flexible.
  • Relationships are more important than tasks.
  • Values are shared.
  • Communication is implicit. This means that not every rule is said or written; it is assumed that everyone knows them.

Low context cultures

– Examples are Canada, US and Western European countries.

  • Time is linear. It is a limited resource. It’s gone once it passes.
  • Each minute is precious and not to be wasted.
  • They are task-centered. A person’s ability is seen by how much is achieved at a given time.
  • Less time for interpersonal relations.
  • Communication is explicit. Every detail is said.
  • Rules are explained and made clear to everyone.

Why do you need to be on time in Canada?

  1. It is a form of respect

    You arrive on time because you respect others. You don’t want to keep people waiting and waste their time. You are saying that everyone is equal. Other people’s time is as important as yours.

  2. Time is money

    Delays cause expense in business. Deadlines are set to meet production goals. If an employee is always late, how will he get work done? You are expected to come to work 10 minutes early in the Canadian workplace.

  3. It shows your character

    Being on time says that you are:

    • highly professional
    • organized (because you manage your time well)
    • dependable
    • a person of integrity (because you value your word)
    • trustworthy

Is it hard for you to be on time? Try these tips:

  1. Remember your reasons

    Why do you need to be punctual? Because you want to be known as a highly professional individual? You want to keep your job? You want to impress your boss/client/teacher? Remember your reasons to motivate yourself to be on time.

  2. Prepare ahead of time

    Plan and do all that you can beforehand.

    • Get your clothes and things (e.g. keys, bag,) ready the night before.
    • Check the location on Google Maps. Visit it in advance before the meeting.
    • Check your gas tank. See if you have enough.
    • Check if there is parking. Know the rush hours.
    • Be ready for any emergencies.
  3. Plan for trouble

    Have a 30 minute allowance for every appointment. This will be time for traffic, minor accidents, composing yourself, etc.

  4. Track your tasks

    Know how much time you need to get ready. Make a list of your morning routine. Use a timer to know how long you shower, get dressed, have breakfast and get your things ready. You might learn that you need to wake up earlier or move faster.

  5. Make it a habit

    Be consistent. Wake up at the same time every day. Be at your desk or arrive for appointments 10 minutes early. Set your clocks at home, car and watch 5 to 10 minutes ahead. Being on time will become a habit.

Sources: High and low context, Culture at work; 5 reasons why punctuality will always be relevant in your career, Robert Half; Manners and etiquette in Canada, Canada Guide; Newcomers Guide to the Canadian Workplace, Kristle Calisto-Tavares Workplace Integration of Newcomers; How to be on time every time, Dustin Wax, Lifehack; and 12 tips for being punctual – Improve your life by being on time, Daring to live fully. Accessed January 31, 2019.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Idioms Set: Seasons

clip art icons of seasons

In this idioms set you’ll find Canadian idioms relating to seasons of the year in Manitoba. Click on each lesson… Read more »

Get to know child and family services

Article thumbnail fallback

What to do if you have a car accident in Manitoba

Article thumbnail fallback

Having a car accident can be very distressing. Knowing exactly what to if this happens is of utmost importance. Attend… Read more »

The importance of having a will

Article thumbnail fallback

Having a proper well could save you and your family from financial disaster. Join this workshop to discover the importance… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.