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New Caregiver Residency Rules Panned




Graeme Wood


Filipino community advocates say changes don’t go far enough to stop abuse.

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Vancouver Sun

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The federal government announced Saturday proposed regulations it says will better protect the rights of live-in caregivers and make it easier for them and their families to obtain permanent residency in Canada.
But some members of the Filipino community — who make up the majority of live-in caregivers — say the changes won’t go far enough to fix the discrimination and abuse caregivers face at work.
The proposed changes fall under the Live-in Caregiver Program, a federal body designed to regulate immigrants who provide care in private homes for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
One major change will give caregivers an extra year to complete the work requirements to obtain permanent residence status in Canada.
Now, caregivers must work two full years within the first three years of coming to Canada before they can apply for permanent resident status. The new proposal will allow a caregiver four years to complete 3,900 work hours. They will also be allowed to apply early, using a portion of overtime hours worked.
Nor will caregivers have to undergo a medical examination upon applying for permanent residency. The change comes after the death of Juana Tejada, a caregiver who died of cancer last March and was initially denied permanent residency because of her disease. Tejada is said to be the inspiration behind the change after she appealed the decision and won.
“ We propose to implement this change in Juana Tejada’s honour,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
Other changes include requiring the employer to pay for travel costs when the worker moves to Canada, medical insurance until the caregiver becomes eligible for provincial health coverage, and recruiting fees owed to third parties.
The proposals, announced at the Multicultural Helping House in Vancouver by Randy Kamp, MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, drew a mixed reaction from caregivers who attended.
Lorina Serafico, a member of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers, said the proposals are an improvement, but don’t address many important issues.
For instance, caregivers will still have to work in Canada for two years without any of the rights of permanent residents. This leaves them open to discrimination and abuse, said Serafico, a former nanny who came to Canada in 1990.
It also means caregivers can’t apply to bring their families to Canada until they finish the program. The application process then takes anywhere from two to three years, meaning many caregivers go four to six years without their families, she said.
Nannies work 10 hours a day on average, Serafico said, because they need to be working while the parents are commuting to and from work. But nannies in the program are paid a fixed rate and there’s no way for them to prove they worked overtime, even under the new changes, she said.
“It’s the enforcement of the law that’s being ignored. There’s not enough enforcement,” Serafico told Kamp during a question period.
Glecy Duran, a nanny and advocate for Filipino migrant workers, said the fact that caregivers in the program are still required to live in the homes of the employer is “one of the fundamental discriminatory aspects of the Live-in Caregiver Program.”
Duran said caregivers do much more than their contracts stipulate and such work is tantamount to unpaid overtime. She said the program needs to be scrapped entirely and caregivers should be given permanent residency when they arrive in Canada.
Duran said the Live-in Care Program is a de facto national child care program and equivalent to the privatization of the medical system since caregivers provide for the elderly. With an aging population, Duran said caregivers should be recognized more for what they contribute to Canada.
Kamp said the program “makes it very clear that [work] must be related to [the caregiver’s] job.”
Don Davies, deputy immigration critic for the NDP, said a standing committee report unanimously adopted by Parliament last month recommended caregivers be given permanent residency upon arriving in Canada.
“These changes are thin and cosmetic,” said Davies, who wants caregivers to be granted conditional permanent residency upon arrival to Canada.
Kamp said his government will publish the proposals on Dec. 19 and a 30day public comment period will follow. The proposals fall under federal jurisdiction and will be applied in each province, according to an Immigration Canada official.
Asked if the government will consider changes to the proposal based on the criticisms voiced at the announcement, Kamp replied: “This is what [the government] thinks is the right approach.”

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Occupations in services - Domestic work

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Policy analysis

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Public awareness

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Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Philippines, Nova Scotia, and National relevance