I can’t think of an immigration minister in more than 20 years who seemed to care more about Canada’s foreign live-in caregivers than our current one, Jason Kenney.
Ironically, I believe that some of the reforms which he implemented on April 1 in order to better their lives will, in fact, cripple the very program they rely upon to start a new life here.
Historically, these nannies, mostly women and mostly from the Philippines, were motivated to take a six-month nanny course, hire a recruitment agency, pay for legal fees, pay for transportation to Canada, and leave their country and families behind in order for a chance to resettle here permanently.
Unfortunately, these applicants have had to wait two years or more for our immigration officials at Canadian embassies abroad to process their papers. Often, when they arrived here they found their jobs filled or discovered that the jobs promised by their recruiters never actually existed. In such cases, they were greeted by our border officials with removal orders in hand and an immediate trip back home with nothing more than debt and shattered dreams as souvenirs.
The minister was moved to act as a result of such scenarios, as well as widespread reports of various other forms of nanny abuse. Some were not paid what they had been promised. Some were forced to work countless hours of overtime without pay. Some were required to do degrading work. Some were forced to give up control of their passports. Some were denied their privacy and/or dignity. Some were denied the T4s and Records of Employment needed to support their applications for permanent residence.
No doubt, some of the new measures will be of great benefit to participants of our Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). Nannies now have four years instead of three in which to complete 24 months of full-time service. They can now include some of their overtime hours in order to apply for permanent residence in as little as 22 months. I am particularly appreciative of the minister’s passage of the Juana Tejada Law which eliminated the need for a second LCP medical and which was dubbed in honour of my law firm’s client, a nanny who succumbed to cancer after failing her second medical test.
However, other measures will undoubtedly hurt this program enormously. Effective April 1, the costs and risks associated with the fulfillment of a nanny’s life goals will be borne entirely by prospective Canadian employers who, in most instances, have never even met the intended beneficiary of their investment.
Canadian employers who need help finding a nanny will now have to pay for all of the recruitment costs associated with finding a suitable nanny overseas. In Ontario, a $50,000 fine and a one-year jail term awaits anyone who tries to recover such fees from a nanny. Employers must also pony up for the nanny’s airfare to Canada. They must also cover the full cost of the nanny’s health insurance until provincial health coverage kicks in (i.e. three months in Ontario). They must also, at their own expense, enroll their caregivers in a workers compensation program, or in its absence, a suitable equivalent.
In addition to the increased costs, employers will have to cut through a larger mound of red tape associated with applying for a business number, advertising in our national Job Bank, applying to HRSDC for a Labour Market Opinion, obtaining an attestation confirming their identity, and supporting the application for a work permit, etc. etc.
After assuming all of the financial risks associated with making a stranger’s dreams a reality, prospective Canadian employers will still have to wait for two years, or more, for their nanny to arrive. After paying for airfare and for recruitment and legal fees, they will have to hope that the nanny does not change her mind about coming here and will have to pray that she doesn’t take another job soon after she arrives.
I have no doubt that many average Canadians will consider the risk too great and will simply decide not to bother.
In spite of our minister’s good intentions, without these employers, there simply is no Live-in Caregiver Program.
– Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Sandaluk and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. For more information, visit www.migrationlaw.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org