The Barriers of “Canadian Work Experience” for Refugees and Migrants

The Barriers of “Canadian Work Experience” for Refugees and Migrants

About the Author:

Andisheh Fard

Andisheh is the Coordinator for the Refugee and Newcomer Program at SFU International at Simon Fraser University. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science with International Relations from the University of British Columbia. She has worked with and volunteered for numerous organizations, including Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, UN Women in Afghanistan, and the North Shore Women’s Centre.

2019 · Youth Policy Program

The arbitrary requirement for “Canadian work experience” is one of the main challenges Newcomers face in regards to accessing meaningful employment. Indeed many Newcomers resort to “survival” jobs as the process to obtain a job that matches their experiences, credentials, and education can be lengthy. The need to acquire “Canadian experience” has arguably become a norm in society, although there isn’t truly a common understanding/agreement of why this criterion exists.

In 2013, the Ontario Human Rights Commission deemed strict requirements for Canadian experience as discriminatory based on the Ontario Human Rights Code. With a newly hired Human Rights Commissioner, British Columbia has an opportunity to follow suit. There are also opportunities for employers to incorporate unconscious bias training and create assessment models based on skills and competencies. However, these recommendations are only possible first steps.

In order to have recommendations on policy and policy implementation, we need to incorporate the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, while centering the voices and experiences of people with lived-migration experience who have faced the barriers because of the requirement for Canadian experience. By mapping systematic barriers that different stakeholders face, by unpacking the different components of foreign experience and credential devaluation, and by applying a human rights and anti-oppression framework in dialogues, we may be able to better identify challenges for all stakeholders involved, as well as identify innovative opportunities for change.

About the Author:

Andisheh Fard

Andisheh is the Coordinator for the Refugee and Newcomer Program at SFU International at Simon Fraser University. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science with International Relations from the University of British Columbia. She has worked with and volunteered for numerous organizations, including Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, UN Women in Afghanistan, and the North Shore Women’s Centre.