Q: My wife and I just had our first child. My wife plans to return to work soon. However, we are wondering if this will be possible due to the high costs of daycare. We have many relatives outside Canada who have volunteered to come here and help us baby-sit for some time. They haven’t taken any babysitting courses. However, they do have experience in raising children of their own. My wife and I would feel more comfortable with them than a stranger. Is there any way to do this other than just coming with a visitor’s visa? Is there any temporary work permit for family members willing to help us raising our son?

A: Congratulations on becoming a new dad!

The real issue here is whether or not your relative will be engaging in “work” while they are in Canada. If so they will probably need a work permit to do so.

Someone is considered to be performing “work” when wages or commission is earned, or when they compete directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

If you plan on paying your relative, they will need a work permit. If you don’t pay them, they will be considered to be “working” if they are competing with Canadians or permanent residents. The immigration department’s policy manual says “unremunerated help by a friend or family member during a visit, such as a mother assisting a daughter with childcare” is not an activity which takes away from job opportunities in Canada. However, it is unclear if that were to apply if the help were to become more than an incidental part of your relative’s visit to Canada. If your relative provides full-time help, they might then be considered to be in competition with someone here who might want that job.

Since your relatives have not completed a course in childcare, and don’t seem to have live-in caregiver experience, they would not qualify for our Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP). However, they could still apply for a work permit outside of the program, provided that you are able to obtain a positive Labour Market Opinion from HRSDC. If they go this route, the completion of two years of employment in Canada would not entitle your relative to apply for permanent residence in Canada as it would for participants in the LCP.

Unfortunately, our laws do not clearly facilitate the entry of those people who we trust the most with our children.

Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at metro@migrationlaw.com

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