Canadian Consulting Engineer

Requiring work experience deemed discriminatory

July 30, 2013
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The foreign-trained "engineer working as a taxi driver" syndrome may become a thing of the past in Ontario if the Ontario Human Rights Commission has its way.

The foreign-trained “engineer working as a taxi driver” syndrome may become a thing of the past in Ontario if the Ontario Human Rights Commission has its way.

The commission issued a new “Policy on removing the ‘Canadian experience’ barrier” on July 15. That policy deems it discriminatory for anyone to apply a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” when hiring an employee. The policy applies not just to companies, but also to regulatory bodies such as professional licensing organizations. Currently Professional Engineers Ontario requires that for someone to qualify for an engineering licence, they must have four years of experience, one of which must be obtained in Canada.

In announcing the OHRC’s new policy, which was written in partnership with KPMG, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall said: “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. In most cases, that is discrimination under Ontario’s Human Rights code.”

Consequently, Hall said, immigrants turn to volunteering, internships or low-skilled survival jobs to meet the requirement for Canadian experience.


Following are points from the OHRC’s new policy:

“Employers, representatives of employers and regulatory bodies should not:

– Require applicants to have prior work experience in Canada to be eligible for a particular job.

– Assume that an applicant will not succeed in a particular job because he or she lacks Canadian experience.

– Discount an applicant’s foreign work experience or assign it less weight than their Canadian work experience.

– 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, or a requirement for qualifications that could only be obtained by working in Canada.

– 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 their work experience was obtained.

– Ask for local references only.”

To see the policy, click here.


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