Fired for not being a citizen: Permanent resident fighting 93-year-old law
Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:57PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7:02PM EDT
A Haitian-born woman who was fired for not being a citizen is hoping to strike down parts of a 93-year-old law.
The woman, who goes by the initials K.A., was hired by the Quebec Association of Pharmacy Owners in September 2015.
Several days after being hired her supervisor asked her if she was a Canadian citizen, which she is not. K.A. immigrated to Canada when she was ten years old and is a permanent resident.
"Maybe a week later I was told that she could not keep me because I'm not a Canadian citizen, and they were incorporated under a law that said everyone - part of their staff - had to be a Canadian citizen," said K.A.
The Professional Syndicates Act states that a syndicate can be dissolved if more than one third of its members are not Canadian citizens.
However K.A. believes that if the Association believes that strongly in the issue, it should have insisted ahead of time that only citizens apply.
Instead, she believes her race had an effect.
"It's a small office of maybe ten, twelve people and I was the only black woman working there," said K.A.
K.A. appealed twice to the Quebec Human Rights Commission and was told each time that the dismissal was legal.
The Centre for Research Action on Race Relations disagrees.
"The Supreme Court, in 1989, struck down a citizenship requirement in the case in British Columbia involving a South African immigrant who wanted to become a lawyer and couldn't," said Fo Niemi.
That case, Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, involved the Attorneys General for multiple provinces, including Quebec.
The Supreme Court ruled that "a rule which bars an entire class of persons from certain forms of employment, solely on the grounds of a lack of citizenship status and without consideration of educational and professional qualifications or the other attributes or merits of individuals in the group, infringes s. 15 equality rights," under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Because of that ruling, CRARR argues that Quebec should strike down that law.
"That's why I call this situation and this decision constitutionally indefensible," said Niemi.
K.A. is working. She found a new job one month after being dismissed by the Association in 2015, and has been working there ever since.
"No issues so far," she quipped.