Filipino church leaders raise concerns over news of abuses in the live-in caregiver program

By on July 17, 2014

TORONTO – Officers and members of the Ontario Filipino Ministerial Fellowship (OFMF) gathered on July 14 for their regular monthly meeting. An agenda item brought forward were recent news reports quoting the former CIC Minister Jason Kenney as saying that the Live-in Caregiver Program has “ran out of control” and that it has “mutated into a program of family reunification.”

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is a program under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program but is distinct because it allows participants a pathway towards permanent residence and eventually Canadian citizenship. It is a well-known fact that over 90% of the LCP participants are women from the Philippines.

OFMF officers are grateful to the Government of Canada for having a program that has benefitted thousands of Filipino women and their families. However, it also needs to be recognized that the LCP has also benefitted thousands of Canadian families who would have to resort to expensive child care or elderly care services without the valuable services of LCP participants.

Rev. Teck Uy, the ministerial president, said, “we are concerned over the unfair characterization of the LCP participants who are mostly Filipinos. Majority of them came through legitimate employment contracts and have become successful immigrants who are actively contributing together with their families in making Canada a better country.”

Officers of the OFMF recognize that no immigration program is perfect and that it will always be subject to abuse by the unscrupulous few. However characterizing LCP participants in general in such a negative light by claiming that they are using and abusing the program to the extent that it has mutated into a family reunification program is grossly unfair. Since family reunification is one of the primary objectives under Canada’s immigration law, in reality, all immigration programs are in fact geared towards family reunification. Canada would not have grown into its present state without the contributions of people who came to this country either as temporary workers or as permanent resident, who eventually settle and integrated themselves, invited or sponsored their families and together helped build the wonderful multicultural nation that is Canada today.

It must be fully recognized that Canada has greatly benefitted and continues to benefit from the LCP, its participants and their family members. Among others, it had been estimated that these mostly Filipino LCP participants contribute between $150 to $190 million dollars in taxes annually. Aside from this substantial financial contribution, the LCP participants and their families provide valuable social, emotional, spiritual, psychological and other non-monetary contributions to Canadian families in particular and to society in general.

As an OFMF member puts it, “It doesn’t look like a program that is out of control, but a widely successful program that benefits Canada and Canadian families regardless of ethnic background.”