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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One of the stations in the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, is the immigration waiting area with a desk that includes landed immigrant stamps.

The “right” kind of people

Pop quiz, folks! Who said this?

With regard to the selection of immigrants, much has been said about discrimination. I wish to make quite clear that Canada is perfectly within her rights in selecting the persons whom we regard as desirable future citizens. It is not a “fundamental human right” of any alien to enter Canada. It is a privilege. It is a matter of domestic policy…. There will, I am sure, be general agreement with the view that the people of Canada do not wish, as a result of mass immigration, to make a fundamental alteration in the character of our population.

You might guess that it is Employment/Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney or Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. After all, over the past couple of weeks, the government has been mailing Canadians partisan flyers like these:

This is what is called a leading question…

Just because they say it doesn’t mean that it’s true…

The correct answer, however, would be Prime Minister Mackenzie King on May 1, 1947. In this speech (PDF), King makes his argument to prevent Chinese people from immigrating, defending Canada’s racist, white-first immigration policy of the time. Today Canadians reject those old immigration policies. Instead Canadians value inclusiveness and fairness.

We should be very worried that the government is using the same rhetoric that politicians used last century to support racially-based immigration. Even back then, politicians used the language of “desirable immigrants” to exclude those who are different. So when Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander talk about the ‘right’ kind of immigrants, we have to ask: What do they really mean?

When the government denies vulnerable refugees basic medical care, a decision the Federal Court calls “cruel and unusual,” are they saying that only a select few deserve health care?

When the government tries to deport a caregiver for trying to survive without relying on social assistance, are they saying that newcomers can be treated like disposable workers?

When the government tries to take away predominantly Filipino live-in caregivers’ hard-earned right to permanent residency, a right that British caregivers received over a century ago, are they saying that only some people deserve a chance to contribute to Canadian society?

Everyone should have a fair chance to contribute to Canadian society. But the reality is that to win the next election, the government is beginning to attack newcomers and immigrants more broadly. Canadians should send a strong message to the government that this country is one of inclusion, not exclusion. We will not go back to the discriminatory policies of the 1950s.

Add your name to our petition

The federal government needs to know that permanent residency for caregivers is a right and has always been a Canadian value. Tell your Member of Parliament that live-in caregivers deserve landed status.


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Photo credit: Henry Faber Flickr

Where did Kenney get his info?

The whole issue of taking away live-in caregivers’ right to apply for permanent residency all started earlier this summer when Jason Kenney claimed that Filipino families were abusing the system and that the program had “mutated” into a program of family reunification.

Let’s ignore the fact that this is not true, as shown by academic research studies.

Let’s also ignore that family reunification is a Canadian value and is a right that Filipino families have just like everyone else.

The question that remains is: Where did this idea of program abuse come from?

With the recent public release of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s tracking poll, it seems possible, and entirely likely that Jason Kenney’s talking point came from a minor concern heard in a focus group. These focus groups, conducted by Ipsos Reid (click here for the PDF summary) asked Canadians about their thoughts on a variety of immigration issues. When it comes to the Live-in Caregiver Program, according to Ipsos Reid, “most [participants] generally spoke positively about the program.” One of the key benefits of the program that was cited was that there is a pathway permanent residency.

In fact, in their survey of over 3,000 Canadians (see PDF results), those familiar with the LCP cite the pathway to citizenship as a good thing about the program. No one cites family reunification through the LCP as a problem.

The only place where it comes up is in the focus groups. In the focus groups, there was a discussion about the potential that the LCP could be used as an alternative to expedite family reunification. But participants were more concerned about caregivers being taken advantage of by employers. Indeed, most participants said that the government should protect caregiver rights and should actually facilitate family reunification.

One of the reasons that the government pays thousands of dollars for these surveys and focus groups is for “developing policies and communications strategies.” Given Jason Kenney’s lack of actual facts to back up his claims of ‘mutation’, our concern is that he and Chris Alexander have already decided to take away caregivers’ right to apply for permanent residency. We are concerned that they are cherry-picking things they heard in the focus group that support their agenda. We are especially concerned that in their attempt to remove caregivers’ right to permanent residency, they are ignoring the facts and are simply scapegoating the Filipino for political purposes.

Add your name to our petition

The federal government needs to know that permanent residency for caregivers is a right and has always been a Canadian value. Tell your Member of Parliament that live-in caregivers deserve landed status.

(Photo credit: Henry Faber Flickr


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