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Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier – A guide for employers and regulatory bodies

July 2013 - When an employer requires people applying for jobs to have “Canadian experience,” or where a regulatory body requires “Canadian experience” before someone can get accredited, they may create barriers for newcomers to Canada. Requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), which protects people from discrimination based on grounds such as race, ancestry, colour, place of origin and ethnic origin.

Talking about Canadian experience (fact sheet)

July 2013 - In October 2012, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) hosted an online survey to learn more about the experiences of both job seekers and employers in dealing with requirements for Canadian experience. The survey was not about statistics – it was about giving people an opportunity to talk about the barriers they faced, and in the case of employers, the reasons for keeping or removing requirements for Canadian experience. We included many of stories and comments we heard in our new Policy on removing the “Canadian experience” barrier. The following sections highlight some of the recurring themes we heard, and some of the more poignant stories of people facing discrimination because they did not have Canadian experience.

Removing the "Canadian experience" barrier (brochure)

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.

Policy on Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier

July 2013 - While the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes the significance of all of the barriers newcomers potentially face when trying to access the job market, this policy will focus on “Canadian experience” as an employment or accreditation requirement, and as a practice that raises human rights concerns. The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is prima facie discrimination (discrimination on its face) and can only be used in very limited circumstances. The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement, based on the legal test this policy sets out.

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