Some employers ask people applying for jobs if they have “Canadian experience.” That can make it much harder for people new to Canada to find work. Some “regulatory bodies” (such as the professional associations for accountants or doctors) also ask for Canadian experience.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) believes that asking for Canadian experience can result in discrimination. Employers and regulatory bodies should always have to show why Canadian experience is needed.
“Canadian experience” is not a good way to tell if you have the rights skills or experience to do a job. Employers should ask about all of your previous work – where you got your experience should not matter.
The Ontario Human Rights Code
What questions can be asked?
Example: An employer is looking for a typist/receptionist. Even if the person was trained in another country, there are several ways to tell if they can really do the job, such as a test (a typing test, for example), letters of reference or having the person actually do the job for a short time (a “probationary period”).
“Legitimate” job requirements
- relates to the purpose or nature of the job
- was adopted honestly rather than for a discriminatory reason
- is necessary to do the job
- there isn’t a better way that would avoid or reduce the negative effect
- the situations of individual job applicants are still considered and accommodated as much as possible, unless the cost to do that would be very high or would create health and safety risks (“undue hardship”).
An employer won’t be able to say that a requirement for Canadian experience is justified unless they can show that that they have taken a flexible approach, looked at other types of experience, and weighed this against the other requirements of the job.
The hiring process should be clear and open. Job ads should talk about the exact skills and work experience needed for the job. Applicants should be given the chance to show their skills during interviews and even in a simulated job setting.
Example: Rather than imposing a general Canadian experience requirement on job applicants, or insisting that they have established local business contacts before they are hired, an advertising agency provides job applicants with the opportunity to show their ability to generate business.
What must organizations do?
Example: A major bank wants to make sure that people without Canadian experience don’t face a barrier when they apply for a job. To do this, the bank decides not to include a question about “country of origin” on its job application form.
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