Postdoc in Canada

What is a postdoctoral scholar?
 
    To help answer this question, we have included the following FAQ.
 
 
Current classifications of Postdoctoral Scholars in Canada
 
1. The Postdoc as an ‘employee’
 
  • Currently not adopted by many organizations in the country (i.e. postdocs at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto).
  • Postdocs are paid on a T4 and make EI, CPP and income tax contributions, but are also able to benefit from these programs (i.e. parental leave, sick leave etc).
  • Postdocs are treated as any other employee of the institution.

 

2. The Postdoc as a ‘student’

  • Currently adopted by several institutions in the province of Quebec.
  • Postdocs are paid on a T4A (code 05) and receive at T2202A.
  • Postdoc have been able to access tax exempt salaries in the past.
  • Postdoc surveyed have expressed frustration and dislike in being classified as ‘students’.

 

3. The Postdoc as a ‘PDA/PDF’

  • This mode of classification as been adopted by three universities (UWO, UOttawa and Dalhousie). Other universities (i.e. U of T) have been exploring it as an option.
  • PDF (Postdoctoral fellow) postdocs are treated as ‘trainees’ and are required to both register with the university and take courses. These PDFs are paid on a T4A (code 05) and receive at T2202A. Postdocs usually pay a fee. Postdoc have been able to access tax exempt salaries in the past.
  • PDA (Postdoctoral Associate) Postdocs are paid on a T4 and make EI, CPP and income tax contributions, but are also able to benefit from these programs (i.e. parental leave, sick leave etc).
  • Postdocs are treated as any other employee of the institution.
  • Postdocs can choose to be PDA or PDF, except you can only qualify for trainee status for the first 3-5 years post PhD.

 

4. The Postdoc with no official status

  • This is how most postdocs are ‘classified’ in Canada.
  • Postdocs paid on a T4A (code 04 or 05) yet do not receive a T2202A and have little access to advanced training and courses, or university services (varies depending on institution, some universities have extended some training and benefits to these postdocs).
  • Cannot access tax exempt status or contribute to/benefit from EI/CPP.
  • Have little official status in the institution and in many (but not all) cases, are not administered or tracked by the institution.
  • Some postdocs have been able to claim tax benefits as ‘self employed’ but this is not universally administered by all accountants and has had inconsistent success with CRA as they do not fit the CRA definition as ‘self employed’ or ‘independent contractors’.