The practice and profession of banking is the core of the so-called financial industry. What is called banking within that service economy, and is defined and regulated as such in Canadian law, is the actual money creation process: how money comes into being as a result of loan approval and other processes that increase total credit granted by the banking institution. The rules that limit this are called banking reserve rules.

To keep clear exactly who can create money and who cannot, the word "bank" in Canada is specifically regulated. Any non-financial uses (such as "organ bank" are granted only specific exceptions under law. Not even a credit union can technically call itself a bank, because it does not create any money, it only moves it around.

There are five chartered banks based in Canada:

Other banks are branches of foreign institutions and rely on credit creation power from other countries - they are not generally participants in the political manipulations around central bank operations of the Bank of Canada. See Money Supply and the Private Banking System by Lord Beswick for some of the politics surrounding this in the UK, and Federal Reserve for the issues relevant to Canada arising from US dollar hegemony and banking reserve rules of the US.

There are federal and provincial laws affecting bank mergers and that prevent efforts to launder money, evade tax, and otherwise subvert the laws of Canada that affect banking. Other aspects of the financial industry such as attempts to sell stock, fall under the provincial level of jurisdiction, which has become controversial in recent decades after a series of scandals, notably in the TSE and VSE.