Government releases new Caregiver Program rules

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.

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Changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program announced

Just this afternoon, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program. Now called the Caregiver Program, the announced make several key changes to the program. We are still analyzing the announcement, but here are our initial reactions:

  • Caregivers across the country have been demanding for permanent residency on arrival. The government did not listen to their call.
  • The changes are extremely vague, saying nothing about how caregiver rights will be protected.
  • The government has capped childcare applications to a paltry 2,750 applicants, meaning many caregivers will continue to face major delays in processing applications, or in the worst case, risk deportation because of government delays.
  • The requirements for the High Medical Needs Pathway are unrealistically onerous, requiring educational and professional certifications that are practically available only to people who are already citizens.
  • E.g. you need to be licensed to practice in Canada to avail of this pathway. How do you get that if you need to, for example, do a practicum in Canada?
  • The government still has not definitely stated whether those currently in the LCP will be grandfathered in.
  • The changes do nothing to prevent abusive employers from revoking employment, leading to deportation.
  • The new requirements do nothing about barriers to education like domestic tuition rates, which would help caregivers transition.
  • The new requirements do nothing about the problem with children “aging out” of eligibility due to government delays.
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