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Removing the "Canadian experience" barrier: eLearning for job seekers

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Transcript “Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier eLearning for Job Seekers Bob: Hello, my name is Bob. Welcome to this short video about removing the Canadian experience barrier. A requirement for experience working in Canada is the most common barrier for newcomers looking for meaningful jobs in Canada. This barrier continues to exist at least two years after people arrive. This module is for jobseekers who come across the Canadian experience requirement when you are looking for work. Today, we’ll talk about your rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code, what Canadian experience barriers look like, why employers ask for Canadian experience and what to do if you are asked about Canadian experience. You’ll also find information on additional resources. 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. Canada relies on the contributions of immigrants for its economic well-being and ability to compete internationally. Did you know that: Immigrants make up 30 per cent of Ontario's current work force, or that Recent and very recent immigrants make up 8.2% of Ontario’s work force? Employers who ask for “Canadian experience” 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 (or OHRC) says that a strict requirement for Canadian experience is discriminatory and can only be justified in very limited circumstances. “Canadian experience” can’t tell you if a person has the skills or experience to do a job. For this reason, employers should ask about all of your previous work – where you got your experience should not matter. What does the Canadian experience barrier look like? This is an example of what we heard: Woman: I have worked all over Europe and I know that there is no problem like “European experience”. I believe that Canadian experience is a self-invented barrier to stop educated immigrants from getting into well-paid, high level jobs. Bob: The Human Rights Code is an Ontario law that gives you equal rights and opportunities for jobs. You have similar rights in other areas too, like housing and services. Some rules or practices may result in unequal treatment for newcomers to Canada. Even though they may have experience in another country and can do the job, requiring prior Canadian experience can block them from getting the job. Not hiring someone because of where they worked before may be discrimination based on race, ancestry, colour, place of origin or ethnic origin. The Human Rights Code says employers must not put out a job ad, use an application form, or ask a job applicant questions to find out about what are called “prohibited grounds of discrimination” in the Code. How will you recognize “Canadian experience” barriers? The “Canadian experience” requirement may be obvious: For example, an online add for a Bookkeeper/Accountant that reads: The successful candidate MUST: Have Canadian experience in public accounting office. But sometimes the “Canadian experience” requirement is subtle, particularly at a job interview. Let’s go through some questions and comments on Canadian experience that may come up at an interview: Tell me about your Canadian experience? Where did you get your work experience? Do you have any local references? Where did you attend high school? Canadian experience is superior to overseas experience. I’m not so sure about your credentials. Where did you get them? Why do some employers ask for Canadian work experience? Some employers 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 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 use a requirement for Canadian experience as a way of discriminating against people who come from outside Canada. Human rights principles establish that employment requirements and duties must be reasonable, genuine and directly related to doing the job. 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 opportunity to show this skill. Not hiring someone because of where they worked before may be discrimination based on race, ancestry, colour, place of origin or ethnic origin. Employers have the onus of showing that a requirement for Canadian experience is a bona fide requirement, based on an established legal test. Click on the link on your screen for more information. What if you’re asked questions about your Canadian experience? Asking about Canadian experience could be a way to find out about your race, ancestry, place of origin or ethnic origin. Some social service agencies, like employment services or newcomer service agencies, might be able to help by sending a letter and the Policy on removing the Canadian experience barrier to the employer or employment agency. You can also send a letter if you choose. There is a sample letter on the additional resources page that you can download, edit and send to employers or employment agencies. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against because of a Canadian experience requirement in a job ad, job application or interview, you can also file a complaint, called an application, with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. For more information about filing an application, select the link on your screen. Now let’s look at an interview scenario, to see what you might do if you’re asked about your Canadian experience. Before an interview, you can prepare for a question about Canadian experience and think about how you would respond. Please select how you might respond to the question on your screen. What if the employer hires through an employment agency? An employer must not use an employment agency to refuse to hire people based on Code grounds. This means that an employer can’t ask an employment agency to recruit, select, screen or hire people based on whether they have Canadian work experience. This also means that employment agencies cannot agree to an employer’s request to screen people out based on Canadian experience. When can the employer ask about “Canadian experience”? Employers should only ask specifically about “Canadian” experience if they can show it is really needed to do the job. To learn more about the employer’s responsibility to remove Canadian experience barriers, select the links on your screen. Thanks for taking part in this eLearning module. Here are some more resources that you might find helpful. “Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier eLearning for Job Seekers Transcript at


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