How Does Law Differ in the US and Canada?

Canada and the United States enjoy a similar history. Although Indigenous persons inhabited both landmasses, European settlers established colonies throughout modern-day Canada and the U.S. hundreds of years ago. Both countries have a legal system based on British common law, although the legal system has evolved in each nation and has some key distinctions.

Some legal differences are minor, while others are significant. Understanding the differences can help people avoid legal issues when traveling to Canada or the United States. It can also help you understand the legal services available if you do have legal issues. Let’s explore some of the differences between Canada and U.S. law.

Canada and the United States have different labour laws.


Labour law is a legal specialty addressing workplace issues. Labour laws protect employees’ rights and ensure companies follow appropriate laws and regulations. Employees can sue their employers for labour law violations, making it crucial for employees to understand their legal rights. U.S. states have at-will employment, making it easier for employers to fire employees without giving a reason for terminating employment. Workers benefit because they don’t have to give reasons if they want to leave their job. Most states have public policy exemptions, protecting workers who refuse to follow orders that would cause them to break regulations.

Canada doesn’t have at-will employment, which means employers must notify employees they’re being terminated and provide severance pay unless there’s cause for termination. When employers violate these rules, Canadians can turn to labour law experts such as Malliha Wilson. Malliha has an undergraduate degree from McGill University and earned her law degree at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Malliha draws on her extensive experience to prepare cases for her clients. She spent several years working as the Ontario government’s Assistant Deputy Attorney General and has presented cases before the Ontario Court of Appeal, ensuring she has extensive experience with provincial law. Malliha’s also benefited from arguing cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, gaining experience with federal laws.

Wrongfully terminated employees may benefit from securing Malliha’s legal services. Her law firm, Nava Wilson LLP, can build a case against employers guilty of labour law violations. Malliha also specializes in human rights law and complex litigation, making her an ideal attorney to address lawsuits stemming from discrimination based on a person’s gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Canada discourages health care lawsuits.


People in the U.S. and Canada can hire a law firm specializing in personal injury law and pursue a lawsuit against medical personnel or facilities for medical malpractice or birth injury. However, while Canada’s universal health care ensures all Canadians and legal residents have access to taxpayer-funded health care services, Canada’s Supreme Court has capped lawsuit payouts for pain and suffering in medical malpractice suits. By contrast, the United States has no federal ruling limiting malpractice payouts.

In the United States, medical professionals can hire a healthcare lawyer in Long Island to represent their interests if they lose their license. Health care attorneys also represent hospitals and other health care facilities, such as clinics and medical offices. These attorneys’ legal services involve advising their clients about policies they should implement, ensuring their clients comply with health care laws, and protect themselves from lawsuits.

Canada doesn’t have the death penalty.

Canadian and U.S. laws have different penalties. Health care policies are one example of the difference between the U.S. and Canada, but the criminal justice system is another. Over 50 percent of U.S. states have capital punishment, enabling states to execute criminals convicted of crimes such as treason or murder.

Until 2011, Canada only used concurrent sentencing, which meant criminals convicted of multiple crimes served their sentences simultaneously. While some U.S. states have concurrent and consecutive sentencing, most favor consecutive sentencing. This means the sentence for each crime is added together instead of allowing people to serve multiple sentences simultaneously. Consecutive sentencing extends prison terms, making it take longer for criminals to qualify for parole.

U.S. and Canadian law have similar origins, but there are some key distinctions. Learning about the differences can help you navigate issues with criminal, health care, and labour law.