Canadian Experience and Human Rights

Read how the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Changing Demographics will make employers who turn away candidates without Canadian experience a thing of the past.

Canadian experience.  Exactly what does that mean in recruiting circles?

15 years ago it was very common for hiring managers to claim that they needed Canadian experience when presented with a candidate whose resume included only relevant experience gained outside of Canada.  The practise is slightly less common but still occurs today.  Many employers have long realized that it is much easier to hire for a great attitude, general skills and education so that you can train the candidate in the nuances of the job and the way it is done in Canada, than it is to wait for the perfect candidate to come along anyways.  However, immigrants all across Canada have reported being turned away from jobs because their experience, although relevant, was not gained in Canada.

Recent immigrants to Canada argue that they cannot find work without Canadian experience, but at the same time, cannot gain the Canadian experience without being given a job; the proverbial catch-22.

However, two things are about to change how employers view candidates with international experience only:

An aging workforce will further exacerbate the skill shortage that is griping Canada ever tighter.  Quite simply in almost every industry there are not enough incoming workers to take the spot of retiring employees.  As such, hiring managers will have to become more willing to consider candidates who have insurance experience outside of Canada or there will not be enough resumes with Canadian experience to consider.  Just this week, major newspapers announced a third year of declining fertility rates in Canada.  Unless this rate increases fast it appears that employers will be even more limited in who they can hire if they continue to discount recent immigrants without Canadian experience.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission just published a policy directive to reduce barriers to employment for recent immigrants to Canada.  If you are an employer in Ontario, you need to read this now.  If you are an employer anywhere else in the country, consult your provincial human rights commission to see if a similar directive has been published in your own province.  This directive raises the question as to whether or not turning away a candidate for not having Canadian experience would make an employer in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code.   Employers who fear being labelled a violator of human rights may very well take the OHRC’s suggestions as to what they should or should not do when hiring.  As other provinces continue to follow suit this perspective will become national in scope.

Canada has always been a land of immigrants being built, literally and figuratively, by people who brought their skills to this country from their own.  To say now that they are not hirable without Canadian experience belies the Canadian historical perspective.  Not only that but it could mean disastrous results for our labour market, both regarding the insurance industry and other industries from coast to coast.  In order to ensure that the insurance industry has enough candidates for the future, near and far, and to ensure that insurance employers in Ontario, as well as across Canada, fall within the law of the Human Rights code employers will have no choice but to relax their requirements for Canadian experience.