July 24, 2013 | 60 minutes

Bias-Free Hiring and Assessment: Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier

Archived webinar featured on July 24, 2013

When reviewing job candidate profiles, it is important to assess all qualifications and prior experience regardless of where it is obtained. This gives you the opportunity to select from a wider pool of diverse talent. As of July 15, 2013 requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code, according to the new Ontario Human Rights Commission policy (OHRC).

In this webinar, you will hear about this new OHRC policy on removing “Canadian
experience”. A moderated discussion with two employers follows – the international law firm Denton’s and the Ottawa based IT company Pythian on how they assess the qualifications and competencies of new employees. We also provide practical examples on how you can implement effective hiring practices that discounts “Canadian experience”.

What Employers Need to Know

The new Ontario Human Rights Commission policy states that requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code. An employer under the Human Rights Code must consider all work experience – Canadian and international – when assessing if someone is suitable for a job.

According to the new policy, an employer who requires “Canadian experience” must demonstrate that:

  • It is related to the purpose or nature of the job
  • It is necessary to do the job and there is not a more inclusive alternative
  • It was adopted in good faith rather than for a discriminatory reason

If an employer or regulatory body does not comply with the OHRC policy on Canadian experience, an individual can file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Prior to filing this complaint an individual should discuss with the employer or regulatory body the complaint and outline why they believe they are in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code. If a successful outcome is not reached the complaint would go to mediation. If an agreement can not be met, the case will go to a hearing at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal where a decision will be made.  Remedies will be ordered which can include damages for the individual along with enforcing the employer or regulatory body to put in place policies and procedures to eliminate the discrimination in question.

To improve your assessment and hiring process consider:

  • Conducting behavioral and situational interviews to asses a candidate’s abilities.
  • Creating a standard template with role-related, technical questions for the interview Asking the candidate to participate in a work simulation where a typical task that needs to be completed is assigned.
  • Cross-cultural differences during the interview process. Be open-minded and non-judgmental. If needed undergo cross-cultural training to improve your hiring techniques.

Additional resources:


  • Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission
  • Michael Schafler, Partner, Dentons
  • Paul Vallée, Founder & Executive Chairman , Pythian
  • Host: Ratna Omidvar, President, Maytree

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