A Newcomer Asked About Tipping Culture In Toronto & Said A Waiter Told Them Not To Come Back

"How do you guys go around this?"

The view of downtown Toronto from a patio on Toronto Island. Right: Someone paying their restaurant bill.

The view of downtown Toronto from a patio on Toronto Island. Right: Someone paying their restaurant bill.

There is no shortage of opinions on the topic of tipping in Canada, but someone who recently moved here from Europe is asking how to deal with the tipping culture in Toronto after having a rough experience at a local restaurant.

Tipping around 18% or more might be the norm or bare minimum expectation for some people, but seems to have come as quite a shock in comparison to this customer's experience at restaurants across the pond.

In a recent question posted to the askTO Reddit thread, a user asked if tipping this high is really necessary.

"I just moved from Europe, and I’m surprised with the amount of tip that I’m expected to pay for an employee who gets a salary above the minimum wage," user Qumed wrote. "With the overpriced meals + tax, do we really need to pay 18-20-24% on each bill? I’m seriously considering not paying a tip anymore. It’s optional, and everybody should understand that."

The user asked for advice on how other people handle this internal conflict, while they shared a situation that happened to them shortly after having moved to Toronto.

"I once paid as I used to pay in Europe (2-3$), and the waiter told me to not visit again."

They didn't share what restaurant this happened at or clarify how much the bill was that they tipped a few dollars on, but clearly, that's an experience they won't soon forget.

Judging by some of the reactions and answers to this post, this is a shared frustration.

"Tipping went from generosity to mafia real quick," one person wrote, with another adding, "Like a friend once told me, tipping feels like extortion at this point."

Another Redditor explained why tipping culture in Canada drives them "nuts."

"Pay your people a living wage instead of putting the cost on your customers," they wrote.

Others were more drawn to the European angle of this debate and how different things are outside of Canada.

"My SO and I went to southern Spain recently and we were tipping Canadian standards until waiters returned money back to us and told us it was waaaaaaay too much," another person commented. "Kind of them to do so and alert us that it’s crazy high to them."

Something to keep in mind if you have any trips to Europe in mind.

While the debate on tipping culture in Canada may never see a peaceful resolution, for what it's worth, Narcity asked an etiquette expert at the beginning of 2023 about how much you should tip at a restaurant — her answer was 15% or more, depending on the service.

Stuart McGinn
Stuart McGinn was the Money Editor for Narcity Media and focused mainly on covering topics ranging from personal finance, to real estate, and careers. Stuart is from Ottawa and is now based in Toronto.