By Samantha Ponting
The Trudeau government has recently cancelled a path to permanent residency for many caregivers, without any consultation with workers participating in Canada’s caregiver program.
A new announcement posted on the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada website states:
These 5-year pilot programs [Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs] are scheduled to expire on November 29, 2019. To be eligible to apply for them, you will need to have two years of full-time work experience as a caregiver and submit your application before that date.”
Effectively, a caregiver classified under these programs will no longer by eligible for permanent residency if they have not completed 24 months of caregiver work before Nov. 29, 2019. While a review of these programs is underway by the federal government, the change has caused alarm among caregivers, as many may not be able to complete the new work length requirements before the posted deadline.
The changes are particularly concerning for caregivers in abusive workplaces who will now face additional pressures to remain with current employers. Another major challenge, under Canada’s current system, is that some caregivers arrive in Canada but aren’t provided with the work they were guaranteed. Placements may be eliminated, sometimes after a temporary foreign worker pays exuberant recruitment fees. In extreme cases, these fees can run as high as $40,000. The time it takes a caregiver to find new employment could make-or-break a worker’s ability to meet the federal government’s new 24-month requirement.
Demands for reform
Lorina Serafico from the Committee for Domestic Workers & Caregivers Rights outlines 4 demands to the federal government surrounding the caregiver program:
- Review the educational eligibility requirements of the caregiver program, which should be based on the requirements of the job.
- Educational requirements for the job and for permanent residency should be aligned.
- As an interim measure, provide open work permits to all foreign caregivers in Canada so they are not tied to their employer.
- Provide landed status for all caregivers upon arrival in Canada.
“The time is up for using temporary solutions for this important and permanent need for Canadian society,” says Serafico. “We call on the government to come up with a permanent solution. Landed status for caregivers upon arrival in Canada. If we are good enough to work, we are good enough to come in as permanent residents and for those who are already here, we are good enough to stay as permanent residents.”
The Filipino Canadian Advisory Network held a press conference Feb. 12, 2018 in Vancouver in response to the recent policy change. RankandFile.ca was in attendance. We invite you to listen to the informative presentations delivered by caregivers and community advocates on how caregivers may be impacted by these unwelcome changes.
Natalie Drolet, West Coast Domestic Workers Association
Lorina Serafico, Committee for Domestic Workers & Caregivers Rights
Lalaine Zamora, Caregiver and Yolly Tasnciangco, Surrey Philippines Independence Day Society (SPIDS)
Aaran Ekman, BC Federation of Labour
Byron Cruz, Sanctuary Health
There will be a rally held at Joyce Skytrain Station (Joyce and Vanness) in Vancouver on Saturday, February 24 to support foreign caregivers. Details will posted once they are made available.