A few weeks ago, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that the Live-in Caregiver Program was to be replaced by a new Caregiver Program, which caps the number of caregivers granted Permanent Residency (PR) at 2,750 per stream. The program, as they announced, was to begin on November 30, 2012. This announcement was full of nice-sounding promises, but the rules (and the fine print) were very vague.
Not surprisingly, the government has finally released details of the program today, a mere two days before the new rules take effect and on a Friday when they hope no one is paying attention.
Here are our initial reactions:
You only create a cap if you intend on people being excluded
It used to be that if you completed the terms of your employment and followed the rules, there was a guaranteed path to citizenship. This is no longer the case.
The new program now sets an arbitrary cap on the number of caregivers granted PR. This ridiculously low cap will lead to many caregivers being deported when their application is arbitrarily denied. Many caregivers will be denied PR simply because the cap has been met. As far as we know, the government is not capping the number of workers they let in. Only the number of caregivers they give PR.
This leads to the major problem with the cap:
The government is now saying that hard work, playing by the rules, and doing your job will not be rewarded. This new program is not fair and is un-Canadian.
A worse deal for nurses
The government’s new High Medical Needs class now includes Registered Nurses. We suspect this is because of the massive shortage of nurses in Canada today. By putting nurses in the restrictive Caregiver Program, however, it seems the government wants to fix our nursing shortage by recruiting trained nurses into Canada with the promise of PR, but without any actual obligation of granting them PR when they finish their employment.
This shortchanges highly skilled nurses because their immigration status will be tied to a single employer raising the possibility of abuse, lower salaries and fewer rights because of they risk deportation if they speak out. Like all caregivers under this program, the employer has all the power.
No solutions for abusive situations
Removing the live-in requirement, as the new program does, is a positive step in addressing abuse. But the other major source of employer abuse has not been eliminated: the fact that their work visa is tied to their employer, not their trade. Technically, caregivers have rights. But if they ever spoke out against an abusive employer, all that would happen is that the employer would lose their ability to hire a caregiver, the work visa would be revoked, and the caregiver kicked out of the country. This is a perverse situation where the punishment for abuse is given to the victim, not the perpetrator.
Caregivers under Live-in Caregiver Program are “grandfathered” in
It does look like those caregivers currently in the country will be able to apply for permanent residency under the old terms of the program. To do so, these caregivers must have proof that “the underlying work permit associated with the foreign national’s initial entry as a live-in caregiver under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) was based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that was requested from Service Canada on or before November 30, 2014.”
If you are a caregiver currently in Canada, remember to safely keep and store all your documentation and paperwork.