Newly announced pilot Caregiver Program, and Interim Program important steps in the right direction, and a direct response to Caregiver organizing.
CANADA – Migrant Care Worker organizations and allies from across Canada (scroll below for list of organizations) are welcoming the newly announced Caregiver Program which is a direct response to the Landed Status Now (www.LandedStatusNow.ca) campaign and decades of organizing before that, but questions remain on details, and the temporariness of the program continues to allow for migrant Care Worker exploitation. Migrant Care Workers remain united in calling for permanent resident status on arrival for all migrant workers.
Care Worker Wins!
In the new pilot program
- Sector-specific work permits for Care Workers allowing workers greater ability to leave bad jobs;
- The ability of migrant Care Workers to bring their spouses and children with them upon arrival;
In the interim program
- The removal of post-secondary educational requirements;
- The ability for workers to apply after 12 months of service (instead of 24 months);
- The ability of workers to count work experience in either of the two streams – Childcare or High Medical Needs; and
- Expedited processing
Questions remain about recent announcement, including about:
- Details of the eligibility criteria of the new pilot program;
- Processing mechanisms of the pilot program particularly with the bulk of processing taking place in sending countries and 5,500 per annum applications cap in place;
- Interaction between the new sectoral work permits and Labour Market Impact Assessment process which is generally employer specific; and
- Dates when the new pilot program will go into effect.
Care Worker organizations will be responding to further information as it becomes available.
Temporary program continues to allow for worker exploitation
- The program announced keeps the temporary nature of the system in place, despite evidence that the lack of permanent resident status is the primary reason for migrant worker exploitation;
- The changes announced are for a pilot program, restricted to 5 years, and by Ministerial order rather than by changes to law or regulations. This is a temporary change, while Care Work is a permanent need. Care Workers have been coming to Canada for more than 100 years;
- The announcement excludes workers in Quebec, who remain caught in a web of exploitation;
- The interim program excludes workers who have become undocumented as a result of exclusionary requirement in the current program, or because they were issued permits for less than 24 months. These workers must be included;
- The interim program is only open from March 4 to June 4, 2019 – which is not sufficient time for many workers to even hear about the changes. Only 1,955 Care Workers and dependents were granted permanent residency in the first 36 months under the current Caregiver program set to expire in November 2019. This is in stark contrast to the average of 10,740 Care Workers and their dependants who received permanent resident status every year under the previous Live-In Caregiver program;
- The 5,500 cap on applicants per year is far lower the Care Work in the economy. Concerns remain about assessment in sending countries, and what will happen to Care Workers who apply each year after the 5,500 cap has been reached;
- It is not clear if the existing criteria of Canadian 1-year post-secondary education equivalent and high levels of English language expertise will be part of the new pilot program. If it is, and assessments are happening in sending countries, this new pilot program will shut out migrants with fewer resources who have historically been able to come to Canada under Caregiver Programs;
- No resources have been announced for families arriving with Care Workers in the new pilot; or for workers to access the interim program. It is essential that assistance be provided to ensure that family members are able to settle in Canada, including affordable housing, full healthcare and the ability attend schools and post-secondary institutions without paying high international fees;
- No details on regulating recruiters, licensing employers and holding them jointly financially liable were announced which will be even more essential with processing happening in sending countries;
- Section 38(1)(c) of the IRPA (“Medical Inadmissibility” rules) has not been repealed which denies PR to an entire family if even one member of the family has a disability. No details have been announced on whether there will be a second medical examination; and
- Temporary migrant Care Work remains an ad-hoc solution rather than part of a broader Care Strategy in Canada that ensures universal childcare and elder care.
Coalition of Migrant Care Worker groups and allies and Landed Status Now Campaign (in alphabetic order by organization)
For contact numbers of these organizations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Association for the Rights of Household Workers
- Caregivers Action Centre – Toronto
- Caregiver Connections Education and Support Org – Toronto
- Vancouver Committee for Domestic Worker and Caregiver Rights
- Migrant Mothers Project University of Toronto – Toronto
- Migrant Workers Alliance for Change* – Canada
- Migrant Workers Centre – Vancouver
- Migrante Alberta – Edmonton
- Migrante British Columbia – Vancouver
- Migrante Canada
- Migrante Ottawa – Ottawa
- PINAY Quebec – Montreal
* The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes individuals as well as Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support), Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization, Caregivers Action Centre, Durham Region Migrant Solidarity Network, FCJ Refugee House, Fuerza Puwersa, GABRIELA Ontario, IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, Income Security Advocacy Centre, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Northumberland Community Legal Centre, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, OHIP For All, PCLS Community Legal Clinic, SALCO Community Legal Clinic, Students Against Migrant Exploitation, Social Planning Toronto, UFCW, UNIFOR, Workers Action Centre and Workers United.