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Removing the "Canadian experience" barrier: eLearning for employers

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Transcript Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier eLearning for Employers and Human Resources Professionals Narrator: Hello and welcome to this short video about removing the Canadian experience barrier. This video is for employers and human resources professionals who want to comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code and learn how removing requirements for Canadian experience will help their organization develop a more diverse, inclusive workplace, and help them recruit the best talent for the job. We’ll talk about why some employers ask for Canadian experience, the Ontario Human Rights Code and your responsibilities under the Code. We’ll also talk about legitimate employment requirements and best practices that you can start using right away. At the end there’s a list of additional resources. When we talk about Canadian experience, we mean experience working in Canada. What is the Canadian Experience barrier? 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. Click the links on your screen to see examples of the Canadian experience barrier in a job ad, a job application form, and in interview questions. Canada is home to immigrants from all over the world. Seen as a place of opportunity, peace and democratic governance, Canada has been able to attract highly-skilled immigrants. Canada’s culture, society and economy have been greatly enriched by their contributions. In fact, Canada relies on the contributions of immigrants for its economic well-being and ability to compete internationally. Baby boomers are retiring and other skilled workers and professionals are in short supply. Skilled immigrants can offer the talent you need. Immigrants can meet your recruitment goals and contribute valuable knowledge about local and international markets. Yet Statistics Canada identified employer requirements for Canadian work experience as the most common barrier for newcomers looking for meaningful employment in Canada. This barrier continued to exist two years after their arrival. Canadian organizations have a need for experienced talent. But at the same time, skilled immigrants are having significant difficulty finding work. Why do some employers ask for Canadian work experience? Some employers may mistakenly believe that the only way for a job applicant to show that they “have what it takes” to be effective or “fit” in a Canadian workplace is to already have experience working in Canada. These employers may think that they can use a Canadian experience requirement as a short-cut to measure a person’s competence and skills. Some employers may not be comfortable with international experience and references. In some cases, employers might use a Canadian experience requirement way of discriminating against people who come from outside Canada. A Canadian experience requirement can exclude skilled immigrants, and may result in discrimination. Some employers aren’t reaching out to all potential qualified candidates, like candidates with international experience. Fortunately, there is a way to recruit qualified candidates that eliminates the Canadian experience barrier. Instead of asking for Canadian experience, employers should be clear about the specific qualifications they are seeking. For example, if the ability to communicate effectively is needed, they should state this clearly and give applicants the chance to show this skill. Employment requirements and duties should be reasonable, genuine and directly related to doing the job. Applicants should be given the opportunity to show the relevant skills and experience in a variety of ways. Match each Canadian experience requirement with a legitimate employment requirement that could replace it, then press “Submit”. By removing Canadian experience requirements, employers can make sure that they don’t discriminate against potential candidates. The Human Rights Code is an Ontario law that gives everyone equal rights and opportunities for jobs. As we’ve seen, some rules or practices may result in unequal treatment. A job ad or hiring process that blocks people who don’t have Canadian experience can hurt newcomers to Canada, even though they may have experience in another country and can do the job. The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for Canadian experience is discriminatory and can only be used in limited circumstances. Not hiring someone because of where they worked before may be discrimination based on race, ancestry, colour, place of origin or ethnic origin. Organizations will help protect themselves from findings of liability by taking steps to foster environments that respect human rights. Prevent barriers at the design stage, like when developing job descriptions. In established systems, organizations should be aware of systemic barriers and actively seek to identify and remove them. Organizations and institutions have a responsibility to be aware of practices, policies and programs that have a negative impact or result in systemic discrimination against people or groups protected by the Code. Let’s look at some examples of best practices. How can you make sure that you’re recruiting qualified candidates, while following the Code and human rights principles? The hiring process should be clear and open. In job ads, talk about the exact skills and work experience needed for the job. Give applicants the chance to show their skills during interviews and even in a simulated job setting. Here are some more best practices: Use competency-based methods to assess an applicant’s skill and ability to do the job

  • Consider all relevant work experience – regardless of where it was obtained
  • Frame job qualifications or criteria in terms of competencies and job-related knowledge and skills
  • Review job requirements and descriptions, recruitment/hiring practices and accreditation criteria to make sure they do not present barriers for newcomer applicants

For a full list of best practices from the Policy, please select the link on your screen. Organizations can also ask these questions to see if their recruitment and hiring process is barrier-free and inclusive: Does my organization: Require applicants to have prior work experience in Canada to be eligible for a job?

  • Rely on subjective notions of “fit” when considering an applicant’s ability to succeed in the workplace?
  • Include a requirement for prior Canadian work experience in the job posting or ad?
  • Require applicants to disclose their country of origin or the location of their work experience on the job application form?
  • Ask applicants questions that may directly or indirectly reveal where they got their work experience?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to start including the best practices in your recruitment and hiring process. Now let’s look at part of a job ad that includes some Canadian experience requirements. In practice, qualified candidates may not be considered for this position because they lacked the Canadian experience criteria listed in the job ad. In the text box, reword the highlighted requirements to remove the Canadian experience barrier and replace them with legitimate employment requirements using your own words. Press “submit” when you are finished. Here are some examples of how you may have removed the Canadian experience barrier in the two highlighted sentences. By removing the Canadian experience barrier, you have taken an important step toward fulfilling your responsibilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. You’ve also increased your chances of finding the most qualified person for the job. The legitimate employment requirements that we added: “You must have the ability to use North American industrial systems and equipment” can be tested at a job interview. By clearly asking applicants to describe their previous experience and indicate how they meet all of the job requirements, you can be sure that the people you pick for an interview are qualified for the job. I hope that you now understand the importance of removing Canadian experience requirements, and I hope we’ve given you some useful tools to help you eliminate the Canadian experience barrier. For more information and resources, please select the links on your screen. Thank you for participating in this eLearning program! Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier eLearning for Employers and Human Resources Professionals Transcript at

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