Is It Illegal for Employers to Ask Newcomers About Their Lack of Canadian Work Experience?

Posted by in CIC News, on July 25, 2023


For newcomers to Canada, finding meaningful employment can be both exciting and challenging. While the country welcomes immigrants from diverse backgrounds, a lack of Canadian work experience is often cited as a significant barrier when job hunting. As they embark on their journey to secure employment, newcomers may encounter questions from potential employers about their lack of Canadian experience. This blog post aims to address whether it is legal for employers to inquire about this aspect and explores ways to overcome this obstacle in the job market.

The Myth of Canadian Experience:

The notion of “Canadian experience” has long been a topic of discussion within the immigrant community. Some employers believe that individuals who have worked in Canada will adapt faster and perform better in the Canadian workplace. However, the concept of Canadian experience can be misleading and potentially discriminatory, as it may inadvertently exclude skilled newcomers who possess relevant international experience.

Understanding Employment Laws:

Under Canadian employment laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants based on their race, nationality, or country of origin. Asking about a candidate’s lack of Canadian work experience may indirectly lead to discrimination and could be considered an unfair hiring practice. However, employers are permitted to inquire about a candidate’s overall work experience and relevant skills that align with the job requirements.

Focus on Transferable Skills:

Newcomers should highlight their transferable skills during the job application process. Transferable skills are abilities that can be applied across various job settings, regardless of where they were acquired. These skills include problem-solving, communication, adaptability, teamwork, and leadership, among others. By showcasing their transferable skills, newcomers can demonstrate their potential value to prospective employers, regardless of whether the experience was gained in Canada or abroad.

Showcasing International Experience:

Emphasizing international work experience can be an advantage for newcomers. Global experience often provides unique perspectives, cross-cultural adaptability, and exposure to diverse work environments. Employers who embrace diversity and value international experience may see these attributes as strengths in a candidate’s profile.

Networking and Mentoring:

Networking plays a crucial role in the Canadian job market. Newcomers should actively participate in industry events, career fairs, and online networking platforms to build connections with professionals in their field. Engaging in mentorship programs can also provide valuable insights into the Canadian work culture and job market.

Employment Programs and Internships:

Many provinces offer employment programs and internships specifically designed for newcomers. These initiatives provide opportunities for skill development, networking, and gaining Canadian work experience. Participating in such programs can boost newcomers’ employability and increase their chances of finding meaningful work.


While the idea of Canadian work experience remains a challenge for newcomers, it is crucial to recognize that it should not be a barrier to accessing meaningful employment. Employers must comply with anti-discrimination laws, and newcomers should focus on showcasing their transferable skills and international experiences. By leveraging networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and employment initiatives, newcomers can enhance their employability and contribute to Canada’s diverse workforce. Together, we can create a more inclusive job market that values talent and skill over any perceived notion of Canadian experience.

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