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Some organizations in Canada have an official preference for hiring Canadian citizens, and say so in job announcements. If one is a Canadian citizen but also a U.S. citizen, does that mean one would be treated differently from a candidate who is only a Canadian citizen?

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  • Does it ask if you are a Canadian citizen only? If not, why would you share? No one’s business unless it’s a national security sort of thing, but even there: I guess they would ask, right?
    – kisspuska
    Jul 18 at 0:15
  • @kisspuska : I applied for a job in Toronto where I was asked whether I am a Canadian citizen and whether I am a U.S. citizen and I answered "yes" to both. Jul 18 at 0:26
  • Oh, ok! I thought the medium was like a form or something. Did they deny the job app on that basis?
    – kisspuska
    Jul 18 at 0:28
  • (My gut feeling is if they announce it, I would have a bad feeling that some statutes would support that. Just common sense: I don’t think they would dare to engage in a blatant discrimination if the legislation wouldn’t support them, but hopefully someone will know the answer for sure.)
    – kisspuska
    Jul 18 at 0:31
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    "official preference for hiring Canadian citizens" What kind of organization? That in itself is illegal in Ontario if without particular reasons.
    – xngtng
    Jul 19 at 16:07
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It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of "national or ethnic origin"

This is spelled out in the Canadian Human Rights Act s3(1).

However, a person's citizenship is something that can (must) be discriminated on. Unless it is being used as a proxy for "national or ethnic origin".

Right to work in Canada

To be allowed to work in Canada, person must be a:

  1. Canadian citizen (including dual-nationals),
  2. non-Canadian citizen and hold a work-permit,
  3. non-Canadian citizen and be doing exempt work.

So, an employer asking about citizenship to determine eligibility is fine. An employer asking to discriminate in favour of group 1 over group 2 or 3 is not.

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  • CHRA doesn't apply to most employees in Canada whose employers are not under federal jurisdiction. Citizenship is a protected ground in Ontario and several other provinces.
    – xngtng
    Jul 19 at 16:14
  • When I posted the question I did not yet suspect that the rules apply differently to universities. Jul 20 at 19:50
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Employment and human rights law are mostly provincial if the employer/service provider is not federally regulated.

Federally regulated sectors are out of provincial jurisdiction with respect to employment and are subject to the federal Acts (Canadian Human Rights Act, Canada Labour Code) instead.

Citizenship is a enumerated protected ground in Ontario. Employment decisions cannot be discriminate on citizenship (e.g. requirement to have Canadian citizenship) unless a legal requirement exists. Certain general exceptions apply, e.g. essential job duty or business requirement, certain social/cultural/religious organizations.

Some organizations in Canada have an official preference for hiring Canadian citizens

This in itself could be illegal (if they are subject to Ontario law).

If one is a Canadian citizen but also a U.S. citizen, does that mean one would be treated differently from a candidate who is only a Canadian citizen?

This would also be illegal.

If the job requires security clearance or work eligibility in the US, dual citizenship can be taken into account at that stage (for better or worse).

Citizenship is also often closely related to national origin or ancestry which is a protected ground in all provinces and federally. Even if your particular citizenship has no relations with your national origin, it might still be an illegal discrimination.

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  • Here's an example: "The University of Manitoba is strongly committed to equity and diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from women, racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons of all sexual and gender identities, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority." Jul 19 at 18:57
  • The URL for an announcement from which I quote above was actually too long to post as a comment, by 57 characters. It appears that the University of Manitoba uses Google to host its job announcements rather than putting them on the university's own web site. Jul 19 at 18:59
  • Here's one: library.queensu.ca/sites/default/files/admin/… This one says "All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority." Jul 19 at 19:05
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    @MichaelHardy It depends on why they ask, like for other possible discrimination claims. If they have good reasons, it might not be straightup illegal. Asking if you are Canadian citizen usually would be problematic; asking if you are Canadian citizen or permanent resident, less so; asking if you are citizens of a foreign state would be problematic but there could be other justifications.
    – xngtng
    Jul 19 at 21:42
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    @MichaelHardy If I could make a wild guess: perhaps they want to know if they can hire you under NAFTA (but that should include Mexican citizens too), perhaps they need to deal with US sanctioned countries (Cuba, Iran...), or perhaps they are interested in funding that only US citizens may apply. But still, the question is sufficiently unusual to me.
    – xngtng
    Jul 19 at 21:44

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