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Is Canada's Tipping Culture Going Too Far? Exploring the Rise of 'Tip-flation Thumbnail

Is Canada's Tipping Culture Going Too Far? Exploring the Rise of 'Tip-flation

In Canada, like many countries, tipping has long been ingrained in the fabric of our dining and service experiences. In fact, Canada is amongst the world's most generous tippers. This, I’m sure is no coincidence, given the fact that we have been tokened as one of the kindest countries in the entire world.  For many customers, it’s a simple way to express satisfaction and give service providers a little something extra. 

However, as inflation rises, in post-pandemic times Canadians are being asked for more money as requests for gratuities extend to an increasing number of services. As a result, some may question whether this practice has gone too far and become more of a social obligation than a way to show appreciation for good service. 

Canada's Tipping Culture

In Canada, tipping is often considered more than just a courtesy. In many cities and establishments, it’s become a social norm that supplements the incomes of service workers. Up until last year, the largest tipped industry which included liquor servers, bartenders and waiters received a reduced wage (subminimum wage, liquor server wage) compared to their other counterparts. Liquor servers and waiters began to receive the same rate per hour as minimum wage workers, which is again increasing by 6.8 per cent as of October 1, 2023, from $15.50/hr to $16.55/hr.  

In restaurants, it is customary to tip between 15 and 20 per cent of your pre-tax bill, depending on the quality of service. Some customers have noted that even 15 per cent may seem rude to workers, with many tipping prompts beginning at 18 per cent.  

Dining aside, tipping extends to various service industries, such as: 

  • Hairstyling and beauty 
  • Taxis and transportation 
  • Hospitality 
  • Tattoos and piercing 

Are too many places requesting tips now?

After the closures of restaurants and other public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey conducted by restaurants Canada in April 2022 (Tipping: What's behind rising percentages in restaurants? | CTV News) found that nearly half of Canadians were tipping a higher percentage of their bill when dining at restaurants in person, compared to before the pandemic. Based on the survey, this was likely in part due to sympathy for the strain the pandemic put on the hospitality industry and its workers and the sheer excitement over the return of public dining. 

Since then, inflation has risen drastically in Canada. Although the current rate sits at 4 per cent it remains higher than the 2 per cent target set by the Bank of Canada.  

Some say the surge in inflation has largely contributed to increased requests for tips, or “tip-flation.” 

Tipping has become even more prevalent as an increasing number of merchants implemented automated tip prompts into their payment processors. 

From small cafes to fast-food Restaurants, many point-of-sale systems feature an all-too-obvious tip prompt, encouraging the customer to leave an additional sum of money as part of their card payment. 

Unlike traditional tipping, where gratuity is left after the service is provided, these digital systems usually request tips beforehand and force customers to decide how much money to give while in clear view of the cashier. This can leave customers feeling obligated to leave a gratuity when they otherwise wouldn’t. 

Based on a survey conducted by Angus Reid earlier this year (Tip-flation' is getting out of hand for some Canadians: survey | CTV News), about four in five Canadians say too many places are asking for tips, while few believe that customer service has improved to warrant the increase. Some even believe that service has experienced a dramatic downgrade. We will leave that one open for opinion.   

Tipping Culture In Other Countries

As tipping becomes increasingly popular in more industries, this is prompting a national conversation about its merits, drawbacks, and the potential for different compensation models. 

Here are some alternative tipping practices across the world. 


In Germany, tipping is generally not considered mandatory. However, it is customary to round up the bill to the nearest Euro, depending on the quality of the service and your level of satisfaction. 

Unlike in Canada, where tips are calculated as a percentage of the bill before tax, the German system is less rigid and more discretionary. Service charges are often included in menu prices at restaurants, for example, ensuring that service providers receive a fair wage. So tipping is genuinely considered a bonus or a thank you gesture. 

Overall, this system can make the tipping experience less stressful for both patrons and staff members. 


In France, tipping is governed by a "service compris" or "service included" model. This means that service charges are already incorporated into the prices displayed on menus in restaurants, for example, and therefore, tipping is not obligatory. 

A 15 per cent service charge is automatically added to the bill in most restaurants, bars, and cafes. This does not appear as an extra fee – instead, it’s included in the price for each item on the menu. Similar to Germany, customers may leave a small amount of change as a tip or round up the total bill to show their appreciation. 

It appears as though an increasing number of Canadians are leaning toward a “service included” tipping model, similar to France. According to the previously mentioned Angus Reid survey, 59 per cent of participants said they would support this model, compared to just 40 per cent who expressed their support in 2016. 

Japan and South Korea 

Tipping culture in Japan and South Korea differs significantly from etiquette in North America and Europe. In these East Asian countries, tipping isn't just uncommon, it can be considered impolite or disrespectful in some circumstances. 

Offering a tip can create an uncomfortable situation where the server feels compelled to decline the extra money, leading to discomfort on both sides. The act could be interpreted as questioning the value of the service provided or suggesting that the worker is not earning a sufficient wage. 

That said, tipping is more common in international hotels and resorts catering to North American tourists. 

European countries such as France utilize what’s called a “service included” model, through which an additional service charge is automatically included in the customer’s bill. 

Meanwhile, East Asian countries such as Japan have adopted a “living wage” model, through which staff members are expected to be compensated by their employers for the work they offer. 

Both models stand in stark contrast to Canada’s discretionary, percentage-based tipping culture, reducing the burden of social obligation that is often placed on customers. In Ontario, where our servers are no longer receiving a reduced wage for their work, leaning toward a “service included” tipping model, would allow us to go back to what tipping was intended to be, a sign of appreciation for excellent service.  

Feel free to share your thoughts with us on this topic!