Many H.R. Departments pride themselves on the skill with which they can interview prospective employees in order to assess their qualifications for the position being advertised, the fit of the employee with the organization, and the likelihood that the employee will stay with the organization for a reasonable period of time. What employers are often not cognizant of is the limitation imposed on this process by the provisions of various provincial and federal Human Rights statutes.
Can you require employees to speak English? As always, the answer to this question is "yes", "no" and "it depends".
I read an interesting case recently that could be considered controversial: an employer was permitted to contract out of its human rights obligations with some vulnerable employees who were at an economic disadvantage and who experienced significant language barriers. How did the employer accomplish this? The employer added a provision in its termination letter that offered the employees consideration in exchange for signing releases preventing them from launching a human rights complaint.