Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced changes affecting Live-in Caregivers. Changes to the new Caregiver Program will go into effect on November 30 2014.
- Living at your employer’s home is now optional if both you and your employer agree. If you choose to Live-In, the employer cannot charge you room and board.
- There are two streams of caregivers. One is for caregivers giving care to children in family homes. The other is for caregivers caring for people with high medical needs such as elderly and people with disabilities in either family homes or health care facilities. To qualify for this stream, caregivers must have specific education and language requirements.
- There is no longer a right for caregivers to access for permanent residency after 2 years of service. Instead, the government will allow only 2,750 caregivers to access permanent residency from each of the new streams each year. To apply for permanent residency, you must show 1 year of post-secondary study. This could either be studies you did back home, that you get accredited here, or studies you do in Canada. You have to do an English language test and pass to Level 5. Unless you’re a Registered Nurse or Psychiatric Nurse, in which case you have to pass at Level 7.
Ending the live-in requirement is a huge gain for caregivers who have been fighting for this for years. Making live-in optional is an important step in helping caregivers reduce abuses. But caregivers need decent wages to make living out a real option.
The new rules won’t solve many problems caregivers face.
The government did not listen to caregivers and our demand for permanent residency on arrival. PR on arrival is necessary to protect workers from abuse, allowing caregivers to speak out about abuses without risk of deportation.
The government is removing the right that caregivers had under the old program to apply for permanent residency. Instead, only 2,750 caregivers in each stream who pass new education and language requirements will be granted PR per year. Minister Alexander says that the demand for caregivers will continue to grow. Yet, the government has capped access to permanent residency. The Minister confirmed that those that don’t get residency under the cap will be sent home after 4 years.
Caregivers will still have to find an employer who has an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Caregivers will still have to get a work permit that is tied to one employer and complete two years of service under the program.
What we don’t know?
Lots. The government did not give much information about the new rules; how they will affect caregivers already working in Canada and those yet to apply.
Live-in or live-out? The government has not said whether caregivers change their mind if a live-in agreement with the employer becomes oppressive?
Why two streams? The government did not say why it is splitting the caregiver program into two streams – one for childcare and one for high medical needs. Each stream caps at 2,750 how many caregivers that meet the requirements can apply for PR. The total for the two streams is 5,000 PR each year. But that is well below the annual average of over 8,000 caregivers that have come to Canada over the past 5 years.
High Medical Needs stream – this stream would allow caregivers that qualify to work in health care facilities; not just people’s homes. Why is the government expanding the Caregiver Program to include registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, and licensed practical nurses? These groups of workers currently come under the Federal Skilled Worker Program with the right to permanent residence on arrival. Why make these groups of workers temporary under the caregiver program?
These are just some of the questions caregivers have.
What can we do?
The federal parties are getting ready for the election in 2015. We have to let them know that many of the changes to the caregiver program will not help caregivers; some will make it worse.
Join the Justice for Caregivers Rally!
Saturday November 22 @ 3 pm
150 King Street West (at University), Toronto
For info: Liza, 647-447-9590