Who are live-in caregivers?
Live-In Caregivers are immigrant women who come to Canada to take care of young children, people with disabilities, and the the sick and the elderly. Many of us come from the Phillipines, Indonesia, and the Carribbean, as well as from other countries. We work in people’s homes providing vital care and nurturing.
There are approximately 70,000 women classified as Live-In Caregivers in Canada. We come here as temporary foreign workers. Over the years that we don’t have full immigration status, we face enormous abuse and challenges because of federal and provincial laws that exclude us from protection on the basis of immigration status.
For almost two centuries, immigrant women have been coming to Canada as caregivers, providing care to build healthy and strong communities. But access to fully joining Canadian society through permanent residency has been declining. Giving someone less rights because of their citizenship is not fair. Denying us dignity, while we care for your children and grandparents is not fair. We deserve permanent residency on landing. You deserve caregivers that have stable, decent lives.
Who needs care?
Today, 1 in 7 Canadian resident is aged 65 or over. By 2036, nearly 1 in 4 will be seniors. Over five million children in the country are under 14 years of age.
The current economic climate means that all members of the household need to hold jobs. This makes taking care of young children, and aging parents and relatives extremely difficult. There is a real need for a national care strategy that includes universal childcare, real pensions, and decent nursing homes. Live-In Caregivers are playing a key role in providing this care. We are the ones caring for our past and our future.
Why permanent status on landing?
Live-In Caregivers work two to three years as caregivers without full rights before being able to apply for permanent status. That application takes another year. Which means we spend 3-5 years living without full rights and many more years before we can be reunited with our own families.
No one benefits from us being temporary for five years. No one that is, except the employers or recruitment agencies who may want to abuse us because we have fewer protections and we must rely on their good word in our residency applications. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
In November 2014, The Federal Government scrapped the Live-In Caregiver Program, replacing it with the Caregiver Program. This new program has all but removed the pathway to Permanent Residency for Caregivers who come into Canada from other countries: the government not only split the pathways to residency into two streams; it also introduced a 2,750 person cap for how many caregivers can apply for Permanent Residency under each stream. The government also introduced new education and language requirements to qualify for Permanent Residency, creating even more barriers to residency.
At the same time, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is under review by the Federal Government. Now is the time for our voices to be heard! The only option for decent work and living in dignity is Permanent Residence upon arrival.