There were 37,800 Canadians working in the paralegal professions according to the 2006 census. They earned on average of $36,590. About 65 percent worked full time, full year. The vast majority of Canadians working in these professions were female–87 percent. After-tax earnings vary from province to province and depend on experience and location.
Duties and Definitions
Statistics Canada groups notaries public in the “paralegals and related occupations” category that includes legal assistants and trademark agents. According to the government’s definition, notaries public duties include the administration of oaths, the taking of affidavits and depositions, and witnessing and certification of signatures on documents. They may also draft contracts, promissory notes, wills, mortgages and other legal documents, and arrange probates and administer the estates of deceased persons.
According to Labour Market Information–a government-run website for job seekers–2010 wages for notaries public and paralegals ranged between $10 and $31 an hour. The highest average wages for these professions–more than $36,000–were paid in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, according to the 2006 census. The lowest–less than $29,000 per year–were paid, on average, in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
In French-speaking Quebec, “notaires” are different from notaries in the rest of North America. In that province, a notary is essentially a civil-law lawyer who does everything except for pleading to the court. Nevertheless, there were more than 4,700 Quebecers who said they earned an average of $35,000 as paralegals and notaries public, according to the 2006 census.
Notaries in Canada’s Pacific province have greater powers than their counterparts in the rest of the country because they also dispense legal advice. In British Columbia, membership in the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia is required. There were more than 5,000 Canadians working in the paralegal occupations at the time of the 2006 census; at $37,500, their earnings were second only to their counterparts in Ontario.
Nearly half Canada’s paralegals, legal assistants and notaries public were employed in the province of Ontario according to the 2006 census. Ontarians working in these professions earned more than their counterparts in other provinces; 18,555 earned an average of $38,000 in 2005. In 2009, notaries public and paralegals earned an average of $22 an hour in Toronto. This was the highest hourly rate reported in Canada’s most populous province. The provincial average was $20.75, with the Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula-Brantford area reporting the lowest hourly was for notaries public and paralegals at $12.20. In Ontario, lawyers who belong to the Law Society of Upper Canada can become notaries public for a small fee.
The judiciaries of every province and territory have their own rules and procedures for examining and certifying notaries public. The provinces issue licenses and specify the limitations and terms for notaries public. The government of Canada provides the handy online “Working in Canada” tool (see Resources) that provides province-by-province information on licensing and certification, job outlook and prospects, job opportunities and wage information. It also provides eligibility information for foreigners who are considering work in Canada as a notary public.