Visible Minorities as a Designated Equity Group

(Adopted June 16, 1999)

The Commission’s Policy on Visible Minorities as a Designated Equity Group is CURRENTLY UNDER REVIEW.


In the interest of consistency, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission adopts, in principle, the definition of visible minorities used in the federal Employment Equity Act.(1995, c.44, s.3.)

For the purposes of equity programs, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission defines members of visible minorities as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are people of colour.” Members of visible minorities may, for example, be persons of African, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Islander, East Asian, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Arab or Latin American ancestry.

Employers with employment equity plans who wish to identify members of visible minorities should use the principle of self-identification and ask employees and prospective employees themselves to indicate whether they are visible minority members (categories used in the 1996 Statistics Canada Census.)


1. (a) The long-term goal of employment equity plans will be to achieve representation of visible minorities throughout an employer’s workforce that reflects the representation of visible minorities in the population as a whole. According to Statistics Canada data for 1996, this representation is 5.4 percent in Regina; 5.2 percent in Saskatoon; and 2.8 percent in Saskatchewan as a whole. If an employer operates primarily in either Regina or Saskatoon, the representation goal will be that of the urban centre.

(b) In order to achieve the long-term goal within a reasonable time period, employers who have not yet achieved the long-term goal will be asked to set interim hiring goals that are higher than the long-term numerical goals set out under goal # 1.

(c) The short-term goals for hiring, promoting or transferring members of visible minorities will be based on the availability of qualified or qualifiable candidates.

2. Other goals of employment equity plans will include the following.

  • anti-racism policies and procedures
  • policies and activities to encourage respect for cultural diversity
  • a review of practices that may constitute barriers for visible minorities, such as limitations upon people who speak with an accent
  • a fair process to evaluate and recognize non-Canadian credentials
  • measures to address the glass ceiling, with respect to visible minorities

Section 55 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code gives the Commission authority to approve special programs designed to prevent, eliminate or reduce disadvantages experienced by groups of individuals because of a prohibited ground of discrimination. To date, the Commission has approved equity plans for four groups: women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, and visible minorities. All four groups have experienced historical inequities that have become entrenched within educational, economic and other systems. To address ongoing systemic discrimination against these groups, the Commission has developed employment equity and education equity programs.

The Commission’s definition of visible minorities is concerned with racism and its impact. In the experience of the Commission, the overwhelming majority of people who experience racism are people whose skin colour is perceived as being “non-white.” Aboriginal people are not considered part of this group, because they are identified as a separate designated group for the purposes of equity programs.

The visible minority group is not limited to recent immigrants. It includes people who are born in Canada as well as recent immigrants and first-generation Canadians. However, the visible minority group does not include all immigrants. All immigrants may experience barriers to equality, but the specific purpose of including visible minorities in equity programs is to eliminate racism and address its systemic and institutionalized consequences.

It should also be noted that the term “visible minority” does not identify a uniform group. It includes individuals from a wide range of ethnic groups, from many parts of the world. It is important to be aware of the differences both between and within visible minority subgroups.

NOTE: The Commission recognizes that the division of people into distinct “races” or “colours” is an artificial classification not supported by current scientific research. Historically, it has also been linked with racist ideologies and oppressive practices. “Race” is a socially constructed concept that has historically been used to justify the hierarchical ranking of peoples and to support racist practices such as slavery, colonialism and genocide. Classification of people by distinct skin colours has also been linked with racist ideologies and practices, differences in skin colour are actually a continuum.