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Meet the top family businesses driving Canada’s economy

Family businesses account for half of the country’s private-sector GDP and employ about 7 million workers

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Family-owned businesses are a major driver of wealth and growth in Canada, accounting for half of the country’s private-sector GDP and employing about 7 million workers, according to a 2019 report from the Conference Board of Canada.

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On a global scale, Canada’s family-owned businesses continue to hold their place among the world’s elite. The country’s wealthiest family business, George Weston Ltd., climbed four spots on the Ernst & Young and University of St. Gallen Global Family Business Index, to a ranking of 32 in 2019, up from 36 in 2017.

Meanwhile, Power Corp. of Canada, which has the Desmarais family as a majority shareholder, rose up the list to 39, from 46 in 2017. Two companies – Husky Energy Inc. and Samuel, Son & Co. – fell off the list but were replaced by list newcomers ATCO Ltd. and Quebecor Inc.

Here are Canada’s top family businesses, based on the 2019 Global Family Business Index:

George Weston Ltd.

Weston family
Family’s share of company: 63.15%
Global rank: 32

Power Corp. of Canada SV

Desmarais family
Family’s share of company: 59.19%
Global rank: 39

Empire Company Ltd.

Sobey family
Family’s share of company: 61.86%
Global rank: 94

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.

Watsa family
Family’s share of company: 85%
Global rank: 100

Bombardier Inc.

Bombardier family
Family’s share of company: 49.78%
Global rank: 101

Rogers Communications Inc.

Rogers family
Family’s share of company: 91%
Global rank: 152

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd.

Billes family
Family’s share of company: 61.40%
Global rank: 163

Jim Pattison Group Inc.

Pattison family
Family’s share of company: 100%
Global rank: 175

Saputo Inc.

Saputo family
Family’s share of company: 43%
Global rank: 207

McCain Foods Ltd.

McCain family
Family’s share of company: 100%
Global rank: 247

Shaw Communications Inc.

Shaw family
Family’s share of company: 78%
Global rank: 427

ATCO Ltd.

Southern family
Family’s share of company: 84%
Global rank: 447

Quebecor Inc.

Péladeau family
Family’s share of company: 75.28%
Global rank: 484

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