Ontario looking to ban employers from requiring Canadian work experience on application forms and in job postings

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: November 9, 2023

In a first-of-its-kind move among all Canadian provinces and territories, Ontario has announced its intention to introduce new legislation that would, if passed, ban employers from requiring “Canadian work experience … in job postings or application forms.”

Announced today, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development hopes this new legislation will help more newcomers fill in-demand labour shortages across the province.

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According to Ontario Labour Minister David Piccini, this move would be advantageous for newcomers to Canada because, as he puts it, “for far too long, too many people arriving in Canada have been funnelled toward dead-end jobs they’re overqualified for.”

To combat this, Piccini says that Ontario’s proposed legislation would go a long way toward ensuring that “these people can land well-paying and rewarding careers that [would also] help tackle the labour shortage.”

What Ontario hopes will come of these proposed legislative changes

Ontario’s belief is simple: the banning of Canadian work experience requirements will “help even more internationally trained immigrants work in the fields they’ve studied in.”

As articulated in a recent news release by the provincial government, “this change would help more qualified candidates progress in the interview process and [is one step closer to making] it easier for internationally trained immigrants to find meaningful work and contribute to building Ontario.”

Beyond the support that this new legislation would provide for the provincial workforce, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michael Ford says that “this change will [also] help support families as they start their journey in their new homes, create more vibrant communities and help ensure businesses have the talent they need.”

The impact of immigration to Ontario

As noted in the press release announcing this legislation, immigration is an important part of growth in Canada and especially in Ontario, as Ontario welcomes the most immigrants of any province or territory in this country each year.

The press release also notes that “research has shown that helping internationally trained newcomers work in the professions they studied for could increase the province’s GDP by up to $100 billion over five years.”

Note: GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product

Other efforts Ontario is making to welcome more qualified newcomers to Canada

Ontario’s Labour Minister makes the value of immigration to this province clear, saying: “when newcomers to Ontario get a meaningful chance to contribute, everyone wins.”

For that reason, Ontario will nominate 16,500 immigrants for permanent residence in 2023 alone. This will be accomplished through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) – the province’s dedicated Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) – in a concerted effort to welcome immigrants capable of contributing to the provincial labour market “in various critical sectors such as health care and the skilled trades.”

Note: PNPs are operated in 11 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, excluding Quebec and Nunavut. Click here to learn more.

In addition to this recently announced legislation, the Ontario government is proposing several other changes that would aid the province’s efforts toward stabilizing and improving the local labour market through immigration. According to the recent press release, three of these efforts include:

  • Increasing the number of international students in Ontario who are eligible to apply to the OINP

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development notes that this will be accomplished by “revising eligibility requirements for hundreds of one-year college graduate certificate programs around the province.”

  • Asking the federal government to give Ontario “significantly more influence” in selecting the economic immigrants coming to the province

The province has already begun this process by requesting, and being granted, a higher allocation of PNP nominations through the OINP. In fact, the OINP’s allocation from the federal government will more than double by 2025 (over 18,000 spots) compared to 2021 (9,000 in 2021).

  • “Improving oversight and accountability” of how regulated professions use third-party organizations to “assess international qualifications to ensure assessments are done in a way that is fast, transparent and fair.”

Immigrant overqualification has been a persistent problem across Canada

For many years, the overqualification of Canadian immigrants in the national workforce has been well-documented, a reality that Ontario hopes to address with these proposed legislative changes.

In fact, according to a Statistics Canada (StatsCan) report released in 2020, “immigrants were almost three times more likely (10.1%) than non-immigrants (3.6%) to have been persistently overqualified*.”

*Persistent overqualification is defined by StatsCan using the following, relative to the study: “to be considered persistently overqualified, workers aged 25 to 49 with a university degree must have held a job in both 2006 and 2016 that required no more than a high school education.”

Note: The 2020 study from StatsCan used data from the 2006 and 2016 censuses to establish “persistent overqualification”

In addition, the same study noted that “according to 2016 Census data, immigrants with a university degree (bachelor's degree or higher) were twice as likely as people born in Canada to have a job that required no more than a high school education.”

As recently as 2022, data from StatsCan continues to showcase that Canadian immigrants are often overqualified for the jobs they hold in this country. In fact, according to a report from November last year, data on “the overqualification rate of degree holders aged 25-64, by immigration status, location of study and gender” bares that immigrants are “twice as likely to be overqualified as those with a Canadian degree.”

Specifically, while 10.6% of all degree holders (regardless of gender) born in Canada were considered overqualified, that number rose to 11.8% for immigrants (men and women) “with a location of study inside Canada.” For those who worked in Canada after obtaining an education internationally, the same figure ballooned to 25.8%.

These are the issues that Ontario is attempting to correct through such legislative changes as the ones announced earlier today.

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