‘State of shock’: As Canada ramps up immigration, unsuspecting …

Of note, the reality vs the promise:

A year after hearing “welcome home” for the first time at the Canadian border, Shahzad Gidwani found himself questioning whether he and his wife made the right decision to start a new life here.

The timing wasn’t ideal, arriving in Toronto from India with their son just as the pandemic began sweeping the globe. Yet the 53-year-old held high hopes for his family’s future. He was bringing with him decades of international work experience in sales and marketing, and a master’s degree in business from the U.S.

But as inflation crept toward a 40-year high, eating away at the family’s savings, panic began to set in. Gidwani struggled to secure a permanent job with a living wage because employers didn’t want to hire someone without Canadian experience.

“We hadn’t prepared for inflation,” Gidwani said. He estimated they were spending nearly $6,000 a month on rent, furniture, food and basic necessities when they were first settling in. “We were in a state of shock.”

“We thought about whether we’d made the right decision because we were burning through money. What you spend here in one month would last you nine months back in India,” Gidwani said.

Many newcomers like Gidwani come to Canada dreaming of a better life, but lately they have found themselves pummelled by the highest inflation rate in four decades, unable to afford adequate housing, food and basic necessities. And as the federal government responds to historic labour shortages by ramping up immigration — targeting an unprecedented 1.5 million immigrants over the next three years and issuing work permits to non-Canadians at record highs — newcomers are arriving only to find mostly low-skill, low-paying jobs available to them.

Many Canadians are feeling the strain of exorbitant living costs, but those struggles can be more acute for recent immigrants and those trying to secure permanent residence. Newcomers can face discrimination and precarious work conditions while scrambling to fulfil convoluted immigration requirements. According to a recent RBC report, they earn less than the general population and are more likely to reside in inadequate housing.

“Because of competition and favouritism and racism, the Canadian dream of working your way up after you get here often doesn’t happen,” said Jim Stanford, economist and director of think tank Centre for Future Work.

Source: ‘State of shock’: As Canada ramps up immigration, unsuspecting …

Why Canada’s plan to bring in 1.45 million permanent residents won’t fix the labour shortage

Of note, pretty hard hitting:

With a master’s degree in nursing and six years of experience teaching nursing students in the Philippines, Rodolfo Lastimosa Jr. figured he’d quickly get a licence to work as a registered nurse in Canada.

In September, he passed his RN exam in Ontario — 11 years after arriving in this country.

Upon coming here, his overseas credentials had been “downgraded.” He found he had to work as a live-in caregiver while qualifying to become a practical nurse (RPN), then return to school for yet another bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“There was just no other way for me but to go back to school,” says Lastimosa, a 43-year-old living in Toronto, who cared for a man with dementia and later worked for a home-care health agency while juggling his studies, costly upgrading courses and qualifying exams.

At one point, Lastimosa, living paycheque to paycheque while also financially supporting his family back home, didn’t have the money for transit fare. But he says his drive pushed him through all the necessary hoops to return to his practice.

“It was tough and I had to be strong,” says Lastimosa. “My goal was always to be an RN in Canada to help others. It took me a while, but I’m proud of myself.”

Lastimosa’s story may be extreme, but many newcomers in Canada today still struggle to get equivalent work in their fields of expertise, often due to credential-recognition issues.

That’s despite the fact that the country is facing a major shortage of workers.

The latest Statistics Canada data showed 991,000 Canadian jobs remained unfilled in the third quarter of 2022; workers were particularly lacking in construction, manufacturing, and accommodation and food services.

Of those vacancies, 177,780 were in managerial positions and professions that must have a university education; 288,750 in occupations that needed a college diploma or apprenticeship training; 319,350 in jobs that required a high-school education and job-specific training; and 202,456 were in jobs considered low-skill.

One of the solutions the federal government has put forward to deal with the shortage is to raise the immigration level. Over the next three years, Canada plans to make 1.45 million people new permanent residents of this country — on top of bringing in an unchecked number of temporary foreign workers.

But is simply increasing our intake going to do the job? What future awaits these new permanent residents? Will those arriving find meaningful work to let them succeed in their new lives? And is this country bringing in the people its labour market truly needs?

The answers to such questions are elusive, and wrapped in an at-times confusing immigration system that critics say is in serious need of an overhaul.

A smart, overqualified workforce

Canada has the most educated workforce in the G7, largely thanks to highly educated permanent residents.

In 2021, immigrants accounted for more than half of the working-age population with a doctorate and master’s degree, or a degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry, as well as 39.1 per cent of those with a bachelor’s degree.

Yet one in four immigrants with a university degree worked at a job that typically requires a high school education or less. That’s 2.5 times more than the “overqualification rate” of Canadian-born degree holders.

“How do we actually admit these people and ensure that not just they, but also the people who’ve come over the last 10 years, don’t completely become an underclass?” asks Toronto Metropolitan University professor Rupa Banerjee, Canada Research Chair of economic inclusion, employment and entrepreneurship of Canada’s immigrants. 

“That’s what I worry about.”

Over the past 20 years, Canadian governments have invested in credential assessments, career-bridge training and other programs to help skilled permanent residents integrate into the workforce.

Yet between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of university-educated immigrants in highly skilled jobs in Canada fell from 46 per cent to 38 per cent, statistics show.

“So where are we after 20 years? We used to say ‘Doctors are driving cabs,’ but now we say, sometimes jokingly, ‘Doctors are driving Ubers,’” says Shamira Madhany, a former assistant deputy minister in Ontario with extensive experience working with licensing bodies, settlement agencies and higher education sectors.

“You have a million jobs to fill and you need immigrants, but if their prior skills and experience is not recognized, you’re going to end up in the same situation.”

There are those for whom deskilling hasn’t been as much of an issue. Former international graduates of Canadian institutions and temporary foreign workers already have Canadian education and work experiences when they obtain permanent residence. Among the permanent residents who came for economic reasons who landed in 2020, about 67 per cent had worked in Canada before immigration, an increase from 12 per cent in 2000 and 33 per cent in 2010. 

Their prior Canadian experience helps boost first-year earnings of permanent residents, when and if they successfully transition from their status as temporary foreign workers. First-year earnings of permanent residents in the economic class have risen by 39 per cent.

The two halves of Canada’s immigration system

When it comes to selecting skilled immigrants, Canada relies on a points system based on age, language proficiency, education levels and work experience. Applicants must have a background in listed qualifying occupations to enter the talent pool. 

It’s a system that excludes those in lower-skilled and lower-wage jobs; that’s led to another part of the problem. Canada’s immigration system is divided, observers say — there are two halves that need to be aligned.

When employers want those low-skilled workers, the system turns messy.

“The federal economic immigration programs ignore anything below medium- and high-skill jobs,” says Naomi Alboim, a senior policy fellow at TMU, who served senior roles in both federal and Ontario governments for 25 years specializing in immigration and labour.

Some hire foreign workers through the temporary worker program. When it comes to permanent positions, some provinces and employers have used their limited authority to bypass federal rules and sponsor workers such as butchers, truck drivers and servers to become permanent residents.

Increasingly, employers are turning to temporary migrants already in Canada with an open work permit. In doing so, businesses avoid going through what’s known as a labour-market assessment, a measure that’s meant to ensure no Canadian is available to do the job. Those in Canada on open-work permits include youth in a working-holiday program and hundreds of thousands of international students.

While Ottawa sets an annual target for permanent residents, there’s no cap on migrant workers and international students. 

That makes for a Wild West of temporary workers in Canada, where policymakers in this country don’t have great data about who is working in this country, what credentials they have and if their skills are what we need.

“We are way too dependent on temporary entrants,” says Alboim. “We are not providing them with the support that they need, the information that they need, the pathways that they need to transition successfully to permanent residence. We have no plan for the number of temporary entrants that we receive.”

It sets the stage for exploitation, critics say.

If Canada is to keep counting on temporary foreign workers and transitioning them to be permanent residents, it needs to have a better handle of the skill sets of these temporary residents, experts say. Ottawa must set targets for foreign workers and international students — and figure out how they fit into the puzzle.

“If we are going to continue to have a two-stage immigration system, we cannot plan only for the second stage (permanent residence). We have to plan for the first, but we do no planning for the first. That’s the big issue. That’s the elephant in the room,” says Alboim.

Last year, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser relaxed the rules for employers in order to bring in more temporary foreign workers and made 16 new lower-skilled occupations in health care, construction and transportation eligible for the permanent residence talent pool. Fraser now also has the power to do targeted draws to hand-pick permanent residents with skills in demand in Canada.

“These changes will support Canadians in need of these services, and they will support employers by providing them with a more robust workforce who we can depend on to drive our economy,” Fraser said.

Connecting the public and private sectors

Meanwhile, some jurisdictions are making strides to help high-skill workers find success in Canada. Such success, where it’s been achieved, has seen collaboration with the private sector.

Several years ago, the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia developed the Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST) program. It brought together employers and industry groups to develop online tools to assess the competency of permanent residents in skilled trades in construction — newcomers are evaluated and steered to further training or get credentials certified by authorities. Through an online platform, employers are matched with job-ready immigrants.

The program has since expanded to biotechnology, life sciences, information technology and long-term care. Funded by the federal Future Skills Centre, FAST is now delivered through some 50 settlement service agencies across Canada.

“It’s really important that we play our part, that businesses play their part and the post-secondary institutions play their part,” says Patrick MacKenzie, the council’s CEO. “We have to own that responsibility.”

He says 67 per cent of the FAST clients find jobs in their field within four weeks of arrival and the rate goes up to 85 per cent in eight weeks.

Femi Ogunjji, an IT professional from Nigeria, enrolled in the FAST program when he was granted permanent residence in 2017 while still in Lagos.

He attended pre-arrival online workshops and orientation about resumé writing, Canadian workplace culture and the IT job market. He also participated in e-mentoring and learned to use the keywords in his CV to get past AI pre-screening to land interviews.

A week after settling in Vancouver, a headhunter offered him a six-week contract job that turned into a full-time job as a business systems and database co-ordinator.

FAST’s soft-skill training and labour-market orientation regarding his profession was particularly helpful, says Ogunji.

“I already had all the IT certifications,” says the 41-year-old father of two. “That’s the advantage of being in technology. You don’t need any recertification.”

Where’s Fort McMurray?

Egyptian engineer Ahmed Abdallah was cautioned by his friends to lower his expectations about getting a commensurate job in health and safety management when he came to Canada.

Before arriving in July 2020, one of them recommended he enrol in a program offered by ACCES Employment in Toronto to learn about the Canadian job market in his field, work on his resumé and build professional contacts.

Through networking, Abdallah got a job offer as a health and safety environment adviser from an oilsands company in Fort McMurray — a place he’d never heard of. 

Although he initially had to take several courses on Canadian laws, rules and regulations while on the job, he says he’s happy with his choice.

“In Canada, employers care a lot about soft skills and it’s fine if you have medium technical skills. They believe if you have the soft skills, they can teach you the technical skills. What immigration does is they just make sure immigrants coming in have strong technical skills,” says the 32-year-old.

“You need employers who are open-minded, like mine, who will take a chance on new immigrants.”

ACCES Employment CEO Allison Pond says employers have been involved in her agency’s programming by supporting newcomers with onboarding.

“Our sector needs to be very comfortable working with the business world. We have a corporate engagement team that has 15 people. These are individuals who are very comfortable in the business world and yet they’re working in a non-profit charity,” says Pond.

“Our funding is provincial. Our funding is federal. We’ve got private and regional funding. Governments need to recognize and support the settlement sector … We’re a great place for that collaboration.”

More regulations — and higher stakes

When it comes to newcomers looking to enter regulated professions — such as nursing and legal counselling — things are still trickier and more complicated. The stakes in these professions are often higher, given the need to protect the public.

Part of the problem is that newcomers find themselves having to navigate different licensing rules and regulations across federal and provincial jurisdictions. In contrast, Britain and Australia both have an overarching health regulator to oversee licensing processes, making it easier for newcomers to manoeuvre through the systems, says Wilfrid Laurier University professor Margaret Walton-Roberts, whose current research focuses on the global migration of nurses.

Foreign-trained nurses and doctors coming to Canada in recent years are getting better information beforehand, starting their credential clearance and receiving the counselling about their licensing pathways sooner, she says.

However, barriers have continued because assessments and bridge programs meant to fill knowledge and skills gaps require extensive government funding and resources.

The CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses, for instance, offers one-on-one case management, exam preparation, mentoring and other supports. In 2021-22, the organization got $282,000 from the federal immigration department and $1.33 million from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

In the same fiscal year, 113 of its clients passed College of Nurses of Ontario exam to become RNs or RPNs while more than half of its program participants had been in Canada for over five years.

The province has some, limited medical residency spots available for internationally educated doctors to acquire field training experience. But they must compete against Canadians who study in medical schools abroad.

“It has to be almost bespoke, because you are talking about such a complex system and you have to match people who’ve come from a completely different country,” says Walton-Roberts, editor of “Global Migration, Gender, and Health Professional Credentials,” published by University of Toronto Press in 2022.

“You have to support the candidate as they find their way into professional practice. That all costs money.”

‘No one guided me’

The federal government has invested an extra $115 million over five years, with $30 million ongoing, to expand its foreign-credential recognition program with a focus on supporting those in health-care professions.

Ontario also passed a new law to eliminate Canadian work-experience requirements for professional registration and licensing, reduce overlapping language tests and compel regulators to sign up registrants faster in emergencies such as a pandemic. It funds 46 bridge training projects, totalling $68 million over three years, to serve 12,516 newcomers in various professions.

Although these changes help address some past challenges in effectively registering applicants, Ontario’s fairness commissioner says there still isn’t a routine “co-ordinated end-to-end system” for players in immigration, settlement, post-secondary education, regulator and employment to address and resolve licensing gaps.

Another challenge is how to assist qualified internationally trained licensing applicants who, for one reason or another, fail to meet all the registration requirements, says Fairness Commissioner Irwin Glasberg, who oversees licensing practices of 40 regulators.

“I am asking regulators and other stakeholders to find ways to move them across the finish line,” he says. “Our province cannot afford to have skilled immigrants remain on the sidelines when, with appropriate supports, they can apply their skills where they are needed most.”

In the Philippines, Lastimosa was a registered physical therapist before he studied to become a registered nurse and later a nursing instructor while working in hospital emergency. He even got himself a diploma in midwifery.

He says he felt demoralized when he was deemed ineligible to practise in Canada, after waiting a year to get his credential assessed, when competency gaps were identified. 

“Different applicants had different gaps. There’s no uniformity how to fill those gaps,” says Lastimosa, who delayed his studies at York University’s two-year nursing program until 2019, because he needed to save money while supporting his parents and relatives back home. “No one guided me what to do.”

He was a RPN for a private home-care agency and during the pandemic he worked five jobs at vaccination clinics and different hospitals before he passed his RN exam last summer.

Lastimosa says he believes some of the recent initiatives by provinces and regulators to fast-track foreign-trained health professionals into the workforce, through supervised practices and offering temporary conditional licences, certainly make sense and will help.

“It should all start with the immigration application process. If you qualify to migrate here as a nurse, it should only take you a few months or weeks to take the exam and practise, but it’s not the case,” Lastimosa says.

“The process is more streamlined now, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.” 

Source: Why Canada’s plan to bring in 1.45 million permanent residents won’t fix the labour shortage

Immigration minister says he’s working on a faster path to permanence for temporary residents

Of note. Quoted in article as is CERC’s Rupa Banergee:

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says his government is preparing to reinstate a program that would help to speed up the process of turning newcomers in Canada under temporary permits into permanent residents.

“We are looking right now at the best path forward to create a permanent pathway for temporary residents,” he told CBC’s The House in an interview airing this weekend.

A previous program called the “temporary resident to permanent resident pathway” — or TR to PR — was put in place last year for eight months after COVID-19 lockdowns shut the border to newcomers to prevent the spread of the virus.

It gave 90,000 essential workers, front-line health care workers and international students like Kushdeep Singh an accelerated path to permanent status.

Singh arrived in 2019 to study business administration at Norquest College in Edmonton. The temporary TR to PR program was announced just as he was preparing to write his final exams.

“When I first came to Canada I thought, ‘It’s gonna take almost about four years.’ Two years of my studies then two years of waiting for my PR application,” he said.

Instead, the approval came through in less than a year.

“And I told my mom. She was so, so happy,” he said. “I think she was happy because I know how hard she also worked for me, like all my journey since I came here and … how she also sacrifices, like sending me away from her, so that was a good moment.”

Clock is ticking

Fraser said the new program won’t be identical to the old one. He said he’s working under a tight 120-day timeline established in a motion approved by the Commons last month.

“That actually puts me on a clock to come up with a framework to establish this new permanent residency pathway, not just for international students, but also for temporary foreign workers,” he said.

“We’re in the depths of planning the policy so we can have a policy that’s not driven by a need to respond urgently in the face of an emergency, but actually to have a permanent pathway that provides a clear path for those seeking permanent residency who can enter Canada.”

Rupa Banerjee is a Canada research chair focusing on immigration issues at Toronto Metropolitan University. She said continuing to fast-track some people to permanent resident status is good policy.

“Focusing on individuals who are already in the country, that was an essential move at the time, when we had border closures and a lot of the pandemic restrictions,” she said during a separate panel discussion on The House.

“It also is really beneficial because we know that those who already have Canadian work experience, Canadian education, they do tend to fare better once they become permanent residents relative to those who come in one step straight from abroad.”

The federal government set a goal of accepting 432,000 newcomers this year alone. Fraser said his department is ahead of schedule, despite the pandemic and the unexpected pressures of working to resettle thousands of people fleeing conflict in both Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“This week we actually resettled the 200,000th permanent resident, more than a month and a half ahead of any year on record in Canada,” he said. “We are seeing similar trends across other lines of business like citizenship, like work permits, which in many instances are double the usual rate of processing.”

Too many pathways?

Despite the higher numbers, concerns remain about processing backlogs and what Andrew Griffith — a former senior bureaucrat with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada — calls an overly complicated immigration system with too many programs.

There are just so many pathways to immigrate to Canada. And I’m not convinced that anybody applying to Canada — or even the people who try to manage the program — that they have a full grip in terms of the program,” he said. “So there’s a real case, I think, to be made for simplification.”

Griffith argued the number of newcomers being accepted is less important than who is coming to Canada — what skills they bring and whether they can help this country improve productivity and economic growth.

Banerjee agreed that the number of newcomers is less important than who they are and whether there are services available to help them adjust to life here.

“The question is, can we actually integrate these individuals so that they can really contribute to the Canadian economy and also to Canadian society, more importantly?” he said.

Source: Immigration minister says he’s working on a faster path to permanence for temporary residents

Can we avoid bias in hiring practices?

Good analysis of some of the weaknesses in the Treasury Board and selected departments piloting of masking applicant names to remove hiring bias.

That being said, federal government representation of visible minorities, at 15.9 percent (2016 Census public administration less Canadian Forces, a number slightly higher than the most recent federal employment equity data), is relatively close to the percentage who are also Canadian citizens (17.2 percent, 2016 Census):

Ottawa’s Name-Blind Recruitment Pilot Project was launched in April 2017 to explore whether masking applicants’ names would remove bias in the hiring process for the federal public service. There was a lot to praise in this initiative of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Previous research, including some of our own, has shown that recruiters often react to the name on a resumé, independently of other factors such as education and experience. Our most recent publication (in the March issue of Canadian Public Policy) suggests that much of this discrimination is unconscious and unintentional, so employers actually could benefit from better hires by taking relatively straightforward steps to remove names during the initial stages of the selection process.

One similar and important example is the case of musicians auditioning for positions in popular orchestras in the United States. Traditionally orchestras have been male dominated, and criticized for discriminating against women. Researchers showed convincingly that orchestras that held auditions with the applicants performing behind a screen began to hire more women. Given that auditions are an effective means to observe productivity (music quality), the fact that more women were hired under this method suggests that orchestras previously were missing out on better musicians when gender was known. Most orchestras now audition using screens, showing a desire to avoid discrimination and make better hires. It’s a classic case of win-win-win: a win for women musicians getting more equal opportunity, a win for orchestras tapping a larger talent pool and a win for audiences enjoying better music.

However, the PSC’s hiring bias experiment has yet to yield such positive results. When the project report was released in January 2018, it appeared to show there was in fact “no bias” in federal public service hiring in the first place. This led Treasury Board President Scott Brison to write, “The project did not uncover bias.” National media disseminated this story. The CBC, for example, ran with the headline “No Sign of Bias against Government Job-Seekers with Ethnic-Sounding Names, Pilot Project Finds.” The article states that hiding ethnic-sounding names on resumés was found to have “no real bearing on who’s picked from the pile of applications.”

Unfortunately, this version of the results significantly misrepresents the actual findings of the pilot project. A careful reading of the report indicates that the pilot project was not really designed as a test of discrimination, and the report clearly acknowledged this fact.

The design of the pilot project included two features that would undermine its relevance in assessing the broader use of name-blind hiring. First, the project relied on departments within PSC that volunteered to take part, and within those, job openings were considered for inclusion as they arose; both features introduce a non-random element that undermines the value of the results. Second, and more important, all hiring managers in the project made their decisions knowing that they would be subject to review. For the managers using the traditional method, the awareness that their decisions would be scrutinized and compared with results from name-blind hiring made them more likely to be conscious of bias, and therefore more likely to alter their hiring decisions accordingly.

The procedure in the PSC pilot removed more than the applicant’s name; it also took out all other potentially identifying information — information that might have been useful in assessing the resumé. This was likely why anonymized applications in the pilot were less likely to lead to call-backs.

The report points out that a different study approach used to measure bias, called audit methodology, would have lessened the effect of managers’ awareness of being in a comparative study. Our own study used the audit methodology, in which employers are selected at random and are sent computer-generated resumés for assessment without advance notification. Such a procedure has been employed many times, in a number of countries.

Of course, it’s possible that discrimination against applicants with ethnic-sounding names doesn’t exist in the federal public service. For name-blinding to influence hiring decisions, there must be a problem to begin with. As the report mentions, the PSC is already taking steps to help ensure that the federal government is practising unbiased hiring, and it outlines several important initiatives.

Our research found that bias varies considerably among organizations. We’ve shown in data from Toronto and Montreal that large organizations with over 500 employees practise discrimination against applicants with Asian names about half as often as smaller organizations. This difference may well arise from a tendency for large organizations to have more policies in place to help avoid discriminatory behaviour. The potential benefits from name-blinding may be minimal for the federal government if it is already doing a good job minimizing bias.

However, to conclude that there is no bias in hiring within the federal public service on the basis of the January report — which clearly indicates that the pilot project was not designed to test bias effectively — may move efforts to promote fairness backward rather than forward. There is still a need to follow through on the good intentions that seemed to motivate the name-blind hiring pilot when it was first announced. Ideally, a study on the impact of name-blinding would first identify an organization where clear discrimination occurs, as shown through an audit, and then explore how name-blinding affects the chances of applicants getting an interview, and ultimately getting hired. Tellingly, the report suggested an audit study as a good next step “to improve the understanding of any potential bias during selection of candidates.” In fact, any organization, including the federal public service, that wishes to consider name-blind recruitment as a way to broaden its talent pool would be well-advised to consider an audit as a first step to test for bias.

It can be quite challenging to design an effective name-blind hiring procedure. The procedure in the PSC pilot removed more than just the applicant’s name; it also took out all other potentially identifying information — information that might have been useful in assessing the resumé. This was most likely the reason that anonymized applications in the pilot were less likely to lead to call-backs than traditional applications. One option would be to remove only the name, or only a very limited amount of other information in the resumés that might give away the visible minority status of the applicant. An automated tool for reviewing submitted resumés might be developed to facilitate this approach.

It’s critical that the desire of an organization to burnish its public image not stand in the way of ensuring a fair and equitable process of finding the best candidates for available jobs. It may feel great to say, “We didn’t uncover any bias.” But if bias does exist, it’s better to be able to say, “We found bias and we’ve taken meaningful steps to eliminate it.”

Source: Can we avoid bias in hiring practices?

Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options

More good work on implicit biases and their effect on discrimination in hiring by Jeffrey G. Reitz, Philip Oreopoulos, and Rupa Banerjee:

Our most recent study analyzed factors that might affect discriminatory hiring practices: the size of an employer, the skill level of the posted job and the educational level of the applicant.

First, we divided the employers into large (500 or more employees), medium-sized (50 to 499 employees) and small (less than 50 employees). We expected that large employers might treat applicants more fairly because they have greater resources devoted to recruitment and often have a more professionalized recruitment process. They also tend to have more experience with ethno-racial diversity in their workforces.

Asian-named applicants’ relative callback rates were indeed the lowest in small and medium-sized organizations, and somewhat higher in the largest employers. Compared with applicants with Anglo names, the Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications got 20 percent fewer calls from the largest organizations, but 39 percent fewer from the medium-sized organizations and 37 percent fewer from the smallest organizations. So, the disadvantage of having an Asian name is less for applicants to the large organizations, although it is still evident.

Looking at treatment of Asian-named applicants with some foreign qualifications, we found the largest organizations are generally the most likely to call these applicants for interviews. Large employers called these applicants 35 percent less often than Anglo-Canadian applicants with Canadian education and experience; medium-sized employers called 60 percent less often, and the smaller employers called 66 percent less often.

We were also interested in whether the skill level of the job affected discriminatory hiring practices and, in particular, whether Asian-named applicants faced greater barriers in higher-skill jobs, which are likely to be better paid. We found that the extent of discrimination against Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications is virtually the same for both high-skill jobs and lower-skill jobs. For the high-skill jobs, these applicants were 33 percent less likely to get a call; for the low-skill jobs, 31 percent less likely.

Skill level matters much more when Asian-named applicants have some foreign qualifications. Overall, these applicants had about a 53 percent lower chance of receiving a callback than comparable Anglo-Canadian applicants. But their rate of receiving calls is significantly lower at higher skill levels: they receive 59 percent fewer callbacks for high-skill jobs, 46 percent fewer for low-skill jobs. Employers may respond less favourably to Asian-named and foreign-qualified applicants for higher-skill positions because in those jobs, more is at stake, and assessing foreign credentials is more difficult than checking local sources. Avoiding the issue by not calling applicants to an interview is apparently viewed as the safer option.

Finally, we asked whether having a higher level of education than Anglo-Canadian-named applicants would lessen the negative effect of having an Asian name. We found that Asian-named applicants with Canadian education including a Canadian master’s degree were 19 percent less likely to be called in for an interview than their Anglo-Canadian counterparts holding only a Bachelor’s degree. For Asian applicants with foreign qualifications and a Canadian master’s degree, the likelihood of a callback was 54 percent lower than the rate for less-educated Anglo-Canadian-named applicants. Acquiring a higher level of education in Canada did not seem to give Asian-named applicants much of an edge.

Overall, we found that employers both large and small discriminate in assessing Asian-named applicants, even when the applicants have Canadian qualifications; and they show even more reluctance to consider Asian-named applicants with foreign qualifications. These biases are particularly evident in hiring for jobs with the highest skill levels. However, there is a substantial difference between larger and smaller organizations. Larger organizations are more receptive to Asian-named applicants than smaller ones, whether or not the applicants have Canadian qualifications.

In order to fully understand the disadvantages that racial minorities experience in the Canadian labour market, it is crucial to go beyond surveys, in which discrimination may be hidden and difficult to identify. Audit studies like ours capture “direct discrimination” by observing actual employer responses to simulated resumés. This form of discrimination is particularly significant since the inability to get an interview may prevent potentially qualified job-seekers from finding appropriate work. Its effect may be compounded in promotions and other stages of the career process and in turn exacerbate ethno-racial income inequality in Canada.

Meanwhile, employers might also be unwittingly disadvantaged, because it can prevent them from finding the best-qualified applicants. Small employers are particularly disadvantaged since they may lack the resources and expertise to fully tap more diverse segments of the workforce.

A number of measures may help to reduce name-based discrimination in the hiring process. First, a relatively low-cost measure would be for employers to introduce anonymized resumés. They could simply mask the names of applicants during the initial screening, and then track whether this results in more diverse hiring. Second, employers should ensure that more than one person is involved in the screening and interview process and that the process of resumé evaluation is open and transparent. Lastly, hiring managers should receive training on implicit bias and how to recognize and mitigate their own biases when recruiting job applicants.

Source: Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name