‘Canadian experience’ requirement discriminatory: OHRC

Should only be used in ‘rare circumstances’
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/16/2013

The Ontario Human Rights Commission's (OHRC) has announced the requirement for “Canadian experience” in the hiring process is discriminatory in most situations. It has launched the Policy on Removing the "Canadian Experience" Barrier to encourage employers to eliminate this requirement.

"Ontario attracts highly-skilled immigrants from all over the world, but if they have to meet a requirement for Canadian experience, they are in a very difficult position — they can't get a job without Canadian experience and they can't get experience without a job,” said OHRC’s chief commissioner Barbara Hall. “In most cases, that is discrimination under Ontario's Human Rights Code."

The OHRC found that many newcomers turn to unpaid work such as volunteering, internships or low-skilled "survival jobs" to meet the requirement for Canadian experience. They also face obstacles when trying to get professional accreditation since some regulatory bodies will not admit new members without prior work experience in Canada. As a result, they end up in jobs that do not correspond to their education, skills and experience.

The new policy sets out the OHRC's position that a strict requirement for "Canadian experience" is discriminatory, and can only be used in rare circumstances. Employers and regulatory bodies need to ask about all of a job applicant's previous work — where they got their experience does not matter. The policy also tells employers and regulatory bodies how to develop practices, policies and programs that do not result in discrimination.

"We welcome this new policy," said Bill Thomas, CEO and senior partner at KPMG, which partnered with OHRC to develop the policy. "Businesses that invest in newcomers benefit from the skills and rich experience they have to offer and in return, become more competitive in today's global economy."

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