Getting Started


1. What is preferential hiring?

Employers cannot consider ancestry, gender or other prohibited grounds of discrimination in their hiring decisions – that would be a violation of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018. However, approval of an equity plan means an employer can choose to consider a prohibited ground in the hiring process, for the purpose of developing a representative workforce and within the context of certain limits established by the Commission.

For example, an equity employer with an approved plan may have five qualified applicants for a job opening, including one person with a disability. The person with a disability may or may not be the “most” qualified applicant; all five are qualified for the job, in the employer’s opinion. Employment equity plans are voluntary, and the employer is not required by the Commission to hire the equity group candidate. However, the employer may choose to hire the person with a disability in order to promote equity goals and develop a workforce that is more representative of the working-age population, in line with the approval it has. In this example, the Commission’s approval makes it legal for the employer to consider disability in the hiring decision.

2. Do equity applicants have to meet job qualifications?

Yes. Equity candidates must be able to perform their jobs successfully; otherwise, they may encounter challenges on the job and the workplace may suffer. Employers set the qualifications for each job. If they have approval for an equity plan, they may choose to hire an equity group member from among all applicants who have met these qualifications.

Equity Partners may also hire equity candidates they consider “qualifiable.” For example, employers wishing to develop a more representative workforce may decide to hire equity candidates they believe can do the job once they have received further training.

3. In equity reports, can an employer count an employee more than once if that employee is a member of more than one equity group?

Yes. For example, if an employee is an Indigenous person with a disability, the employer can count that person as both an Indigenous employee and an employee with a disability in its statistical reports to the Commission. Both the employer and the employee in that situation are dealing with two different kinds of barriers to equality in the workplace. If the employer is making efforts to address both kinds of barriers, it is fair to acknowledge that fact. Similarly, it is reasonable to recognize both realities in the experience of the individual employee. An exception may arise with regard to an employee who is both an Indigenous person and a visible minority member – for example, someone of both Indigenous and African ancestry. There is some overlap in the challenges faced by Indigenous persons and visible minorities, including racist attitudes and assumptions. At the same time, the principle of self-identification is central to equity initiatives. An employer may ask the individual employee to choose whether to self-identify as an Indigenous person or visible minority member. If the employee does not wish to make that choice, he or she should be counted in both groups. The purpose of employment equity is to create a fairer, more equitable work environment. Employment statistics are just one broad measure of progress towards that goal.

4. Can education equity plans involve preferential hiring?

Yes. One goal of education equity is to provide positive Indigenous role models for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Currently, the representation of Indigenous staff in provincial schools is far below their representation in both the working-age population and the school-age population. An approved education equity plan allows an educational institution to consider Indigenous ancestry when hiring teaching and non-teaching staff.

5. How is this program different from federal initiatives?

The Saskatchewan approach to equity is different from the federal model. The SHRC program is voluntary, permissive and flexible, enabling partners to determine the shape of their equity plans and establish their own procedures, goals, and timetables. The program is grounded in just one section of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code,2018 section 55. In contrast, the federal program is mandatory and the federal Employment Equity Act and Regulations contain detailed definitions, requirements and procedures.