Download our new report at www.LandedStatusNow.ca
CARE WORKERS WILL BE LAUNCHING A NEW REPORT AND THEIR CAMPAIGN AND SHARING THEIR STORIES IN FIVE CITIES
- Toronto: Nov 18, 11am, Suite 202, 720 Spadina Avenue, 647-782-6633 (Caregivers Action Centre & Caregiver Connections)
- Vancouver: Nov 18, 10am, BCGEU, 130-2920 Virtual Way, 604-618-3649 (Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights)
- Edmonton: Nov 18, 1pm, CUPE 474 Hall – 10989 124 Street, 780-937-5908 (Alberta Careworkers Association & Migrante Alberta)
- Montreal: Nov 18, 10am, 4755 Van Horne, Bureau 110, 514-238-0089 (PINAY Quebec)
- Ottawa: Nov 18, 2:30pm, 251 Bank Street, 613-255-1921 (Migrante Ottawa)
CANADA – Today, migrant Care Workers across Canada are raising their voices together to call for permanent resident status on arrival, dignity and fairness for migrant Care Workers by simultaneously launching a report with personal stories from hundreds of Care Workers across Canada. The Caregiver Program is set to expire in November 2019. Tens of thousands of racialized women who came to Canada with the promise of living in Canada permanently with their families are now in limbo.
“Women like us have been coming to Canada for over a century raising children, taking care of the sick and the elderly, being the backbone of the economy, and yet we are treated like we are expendable,” says Kara Manso, coordinator of the Caregivers Action Centre speaking in Toronto. “We need security, and that means landed status on arrival, family unity and justice for workers already here.”
Care Workers are calling on Canada to replace the broken Caregiver Program with a new program that will end precarious status, forced family separation, and exploitative working conditions while improving access to the critical care that Care Workers give to all Canadians. This requires creating a new permanent immigration stream for migrant Care Workers, and in the interim creating open work permits, removing discriminatory language, educational and medical requirements, and granting permanent residency to workers in the country.
The report, “Care Worker Voices for Landed Status and Fairness”, has been produced by Care Workers and their organizations through surveys, focus groups and interviews. It features over a 150 Care Worker stories which demonstrate the painful impacts of family separation, low-wages, precarious status, and unfair laws and policies on racialized women.
An average of 8,000 new Care Worker permits were issued annually in the last five years – all of whom come on employer specific work permits, without their families and with temporary resident status. Over 95% of Care Workers surveyed reported family separation enforced by the Caregiver Program as having the most significant detrimental impact on their lives.
“Care Workers keep coming to Canada with the promise of eventually getting permanent residency and being reunited with their families, but the program excludes so many and is expiring without any details of what will replace it, promises are being broken,” says Julie Diesta of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Worker and Caregiver Rights. “This isn’t integrity, it is not ethical, Canada must do better.”
Only 1,955 Care Workers and dependents were granted permanent residency in the first 36 months under the current Caregiver program. This is in stark contrast to the average 10,740 Care Workers and their dependants received permanent resident status every year under the previous Live-In Caregiver program. At least 20,000 Care Workers have applied for permanent residency and are awaiting a decision on their application, others are unable to apply because of new requirements.
“Care Workers do the critical work of raising families, caring for an elderly population and ensuring dignity for those who are sick and disabled, without us the economy doesn’t work, yet we get low wages, long work hours, unsafe housing and constant stress” adds Cynthia Palmaria from Migrante Alberta speaking in Edmonton. “Making these changes won’t just benefit migrants, it will ensure that everyone in Canada is healthy and has a better quality of life.”
“Most people have the ability to change jobs when they have a bad employer, or celebrate their children’s birthday, or sit by their parent’s bedside when they are ill, or be able to take a day off when they are sick, these are basic human rights, and that’s all Care Workers are asking for,” says Evelyn Mondonedo of PINAY Quebec in Montreal. “Care Workers deserve landed status, open work permits, family unity and an end to exclusionary laws.”
The report documents the experiences of workers like Maiko who face unpaid wages. “According to the contract, I work 37.5 hrs per week at $11.40 an hour (back in 2016). But I worked 50 hrs and got no pay for the extra 12.5 hours. I get $1, 275/per month (net).” She worked 12.5 hours per week without pay. That amounts to $815 per month in unpaid wages and overtime premium pay (and $9,781 per year). Our research indicates that most workers are being underpaid at a similar level because of immigration and labour rules.
“Thousands of Care Workers have come to Canada in the last few decades, we have families here, and we vote, all of us are watching closely to see how political parties respond to this looming crisis,” adds Aimee Beboso of Migrante Ottawa. “But more than the political parties, we are hoping for courageous support from everyday people who will join us for justice and fairness for everyone.”
QUOTES FROM THE REPORT
“There are lots of moments of no sleep because we are missing our family; tears because of homesickness. Being separated from your family as a Caregiver adds to the burden that cause depression and guilty feelings of taking care of other people.”
– Martha, Migrant Care Worker
“I’m worried about getting my [permanent residency] application accepted. The government’s caps on new streams makes it harder. And then we have to pass the new language and education tests; I’m worried. I am here since April 2015 and I am still completing my 24 months of work. I have been separated from my family for 10 years already.“
– Maribeth is responsible for 14 family members in the Philippines
“Why do they not give us permanent residency when we come? There is obviously a huge need for workers to care for the elderly. They bring us over to do this important work. But then they delay and delay. By not giving us [permanent residency], they tell employers that we are not worthy. That’s why so many employers do not follow the law and pay us properly.”
– Rosalie, Migrant Care Worker
“It is so hard transferring from one client to another due to the death of my client. I care for people with high medical needs. It is expected that some of them get weaker and die naturally but then I end up being jobless. The immigration department must have some exemption or way of transferring us from one employer to another that doesn’t make us wait for so long and have to start over again and again I am worried that I won’t get my [permanent residency]and my family here.”
– Lisa, a mother of 3 who has been separated from her family for 5 years.
“I work for another family as part-time. They were mostly abusive when it comes to work hours (they made me work more than I am supposed to do). If I’m not done on time because of more work, they added hours but didn’t pay. They will not let me go home. But if I finished work early, they will complain and said I didn’t do my job properly even if I know it’s spotless.”
THE COALITION OF CARE WORKERS ARE DEMANDING:
(1) Federal Care Worker Program
The program is broken and needs fundamental reform. The government should create a new Federal Workers Program for Care Workers that provides landed status upon entry for Care Workers and our families. Care Workers should be able to seek employment in Canada through the national job bank. Employers seeking caregivers can use the job bank to find caregiver employees. This would take away the need for third-party recruiters / job agencies and the thousands of dollars they charge us to get a job.
(2) No one left behind!
Care Workers – like us – who are already in Canada also need fairness, security, and a smooth path to permanent status with our families:
- Care Workers should able to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) after 1 year of work (or 1,950 hours): Currently we have to work 2 years while 1 year is the standard for most other permanent immigration programs in Canada;
- All Care Workers must get open work permits, and be able to renew work permits without Labour Market Impact Assessment: Care Workers currently can only work for the employer listed on our permits, which makes it extremely difficult to leave bad bosses or, in the case of elder care, when employers pass away;
- The new educational requirements should be removed: Care Workers are required to have completed 1-year of Canadian post-secondary equivalent education to apply for PR but we are not allowed to or able to study while working;
- The English language test prior to PR should be removed: New English language requirements were introduced in the pilot program but no free English classes exist;
- The new caps that allow only 2,750 PR applications each year in each caregiving stream should be removed: There are over 5,500 Care Workers coming to Canada in the childcare stream each year, the discretionary caps on PR applications means that at least half of us will not be able to apply even after completing all the requirements;
- Clear the permanent residency backlog: Thousands of Care Workers have been waiting for up to 10 years to reunite with their families because no one’s looking at their application – that’s not fair;
- Spouses and children should be allowed to join us with open work and study permits of their own: This is the norm for many other temporary immigration programs and it results in improved health and stronger families rather than years of forced separation;
- Remove the second medical that is required when applying for permanent residency. This change was sneaked in the pilot project and adds unnecessary financial barriers and delays;
- Section 38(1)(c) of the IRPA (“Medical Inadmissibility” rules) should repealed because it denies PR to an entire family if even one member of the family has a disability.