Canadian Employment Legislation

CPC Employment Consulting

By Sharon Graham.

In Canada, discrimination in employment is illegal. The Canadian Human Rights Commission produces a guide called “Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination in Canada,” which provides comparative information on the grounds of discrimination covered by federal, provincial, and territorial human rights legislation. The document lists the grounds of discrimination that are prohibited in employment both under the Canadian Human Rights Act and by provincial regulations.

It is against the law for any employer to discriminate based on:

  • Race or Colour
  • Religion
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Age
  • Sex (Some provinces include the term Gender or Gender Identity)
  • Marital Status (Quebec uses the term Civil Status)
  • Dependence on Alcohol or Drugs (Prohibited in all jurisdictions except Yukon and North West Territories)
  • Family Status (Prohibited in all jurisdictions except New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Some provinces use the term Parent-Child Relationship)
  • Sexual Orientation (Prohibited in all jurisdictions except North West Territories)
  • National or Ethnic Origin (Prohibited in all jurisdictions except British Columbia and Alberta. Some provinces use the term Nationality or Linguistic Background. Ontario includes Citizenship)
  • Ancestry or Place of Origin (Prohibited in Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North West Territories, Ontario, and New Brunswick)
  • Source of Income (Prohibited in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Also defined as Receipt of Public Assistance)
  • Based on Association (Prohibited in Yukon, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island)
  • Language (Prohibited in Yukon, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick)
  • Social Condition or Origin (Prohibited in Quebec and Newfoundland)
  • Assignment, Attachment, or Seizure of Pay (Prohibited in Newfoundland)
  • Political Belief (Prohibited in Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Also may be known as Political Opinion)
  • Record of Criminal Conviction (Prohibited in Yukon, British Columbia, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Sometimes known as Criminal Charges or Criminal Record)
  • Pardoned Conviction (Prohibited in British Columbia, North West Territories, Ontario, and Quebec)

It is important to note that some questions may seem to discriminate, but can be legally asked in an employment interview. For example, “Can you speak French fluently?” or “Are you able to lift a 50kg weight?” may be appropriate in specific situations. You can always address challenging interview questions effectively if you are well prepared with responses. If you are unsure how to respond, have not succeeded in an interview, or are uncomfortable with your current situation, contact a qualified career professional for first-class interview preparation.

Do not use the above information as a legal document; always check with The Canadian Human Rights Commission to ensure most recent and relevant legislation.

Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.

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