ON THE LIVE-IN CAREGIVER PROGRAM
ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Everyday, a growing number of Filipino women come to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). For over 15 years, the LCP has been filling the need for in-home childcare, senior home support or disabled care. The LCP promises caregivers permanent resident status after working 24 months within a three-year period as live-in caregiver.
From reports Damayan Manitoba has received from workers' advocates all across Canada, many foreign workers have cited serious allegations of employer abuses for a long time. The LCP puts the workers in a very vulnerable situation by working and living at their employers' homes. While there are employers who are kind and respectful to caregivers, LCP's "live-in" requirement can easily lead to abuses such as long working hours without due compensation.
Workers have lodged other complaints such as unpaid salaries for months, no weekend rest, and their passports withheld by employers. Many workers choose to keep silent and bear the abuses because they are afraid to be without a valid employer and consequently jeopardize their regular money remittances to their families. These workers would dutifully endure 24 months of live-in arrangement within a three-year period to be eligible to apply for an open permit. This status will eventually give them a landed immigrant status and the option to sponsor their families. It could take an average of five years of family separation from the time these workers arrive in Canada to the time their families can rejoin them.
In this regard, Damayan Manitoba raises the following demands:
ALLOW LIVE-IN CAREGIVERS TO COME IN AS LANDED IMMIGRANTS. This will mitigate vulnerability to abuses associated with the temporary status of these workers under this program.
As we continue to struggle for this fundamental change, we urge the Canadian government to:
1. Make the work permit job-specific instead of employer specific.
2. Give caregivers the option to live in or out of their employers’ home.
3. Regulate and monitor the operations and practices of employment agencies and private individuals involved in the recruitment of foreign caregivers and other migrant workers. Violations should be dealt with accordingly and violators penalized.
4. Stop the deportation of caregivers and other migrant workers and call for a transparent and impartial process of appeal available to these workers before any decision to deport is made.
5. Implement/enforce the employment standards and occupational health and safety acts for caregivers and other migrant workers in the same way as these apply to all Canadians and permanent residents.
6. Sign the U.N. Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and adopt statutes for its implementation.