Individuals should not be treated differently in employment, the provision of living accommodation or services because of their citizenship, whether Canadian or otherwise.

People can either be Canadian citizens “by birth” or “by naturalization.” “By birth” means that a person was either born in Canada or born outside Canada if, at the time of his or her birth, one or both parents were Canadian citizens and had retained Canadian citizenship. “Naturalization” means that a person was born in another country and immigrated to Canada, has become a Canadian citizen, and has been issued a Canadian citizenship certificate. Human Rights law does not distinguish between the two categories.“Permanent residents” or people with “landed immigrant” status have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities, but have not yet got Canadian citizenship. Some are recent arrivals, while others have resided in Canada for many years. “Non-permanent residents” are people from another country who live in Canada and have work, student or Minister’s permits, or who are claiming refugee status in Canada.

Human rights law makes no distinction between permanent residents, non-permanent residents and Canadian citizens. Example: A job advertisement lists “Canadian experience” as a requirement. This excludes a number of immigrants and refugees from consideration. Such a requirement may constitute discrimination because it has a negative impact on people who may lack “local” experience due to citizenship or other Code grounds such as race, place of origin or ethnic origin, although they are otherwise qualified to do the job. The Code does provide for exceptions to the general rule of non-discrimination in employment because of citizenship. An employer is allowed to discriminate based on citizenship in the following three specific situations:

  • When imposed or authorized by law
  • When adopted to foster and develop participation in cultural, educational, trade union or athletic activities by Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • For the chief or senior executive in certain instances

In hiring faculty members, HRSDC also allows Universities to hire international candidates who are not Canadian citizens, residents or non-permanent residents. This is a recognition that Canada is competing on a global scale for scholars.

Human Rights tribunals have ruled that University policies that charge higher tuition fees or have higher grade point average requirements for international students are not considered a form of discrimination on a prohibited human rights ground. Rather, these policies distinguish between students on the basis of residency or legal status within Canada. (B.C. Council of Human Rights, 1992 decision re SFU.)

If you would like to ask questions or discuss a concern about any issue relating to citizenship, please contact the Queen's Human Rights Office at:

Phone: (613) 533-6886