Fil-Cans dread the end of live-in caregiver program

By , on September 2, 2014

shutterstock image
shutterstock image

Many Filipinos are dreading the seemingly imminent end of Canada’s live-in caregiver program (LCP) wherein 90% of participants are from the Philippines.

The live-in caregiver program provides caregivers an automatic permanent resident (PR) status after completing the minimum full-time live-in employment requirement of two years. Being a permanent resident of Canada translates into having the privilege of petitioning their immediate family from their country of origin. Many caregivers see this as great motivation in an attempt to bring their loved ones to greener pastures.

Some reports are saying that the vote of the growing Filipino-Canadian community might be at risk if this threat to temporary foreign workers and the LCP continues.

“This is a defining issue for the Filipino Canadian community. This is something very close to our hearts. It is worrying us because we feel this could be a smoke-screen for changes that are coming to the LCP program. Our concern is they are going to further restrict family reunification under the program,” said Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada.

After Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s criticism about the LCP as being “out of control” and “mutated,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a consultation in Vancouver that the government simply wants to “modernize” the said program.

Experts are saying that the shortage of childcare institutions and the rising demand for elderly care will keep the LCP intact.

This demand, however, does not diminish the fact that some caregivers are “abusing” the privileges brought about by being a participant in the program. This reported abuse is a cause for concern, said Kenney. According to the Employment Minister, he met 70 prospective “nannies” during a seminar in Manila, Philippines who are “all” bound for Canada to work for their relatives.

However, Kenney’s account was refuted by Gabriela, a group advocating Filipino women’s rights. In a study funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, most of the caregivers were hired through an employment agency.

“We’re actually surprised by the number of individuals who were hired by an employment agency. The direct hires by relatives have actually increasingly decreased,” said Ethel Tungohan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Alberta and lead researcher in the study.

The ‘Nanny Study’ was the first ever national study that focused on live-in caregivers in Canada. The participants were asked about their job, education, community involvement, health, and even the recruitment process they went through.

Of 631 current and former live-in Filipino caregivers in six Canadian cities, 61% were hired through legit recruitment firms and 27% were directly hired “by unrelated employers”  in the last five years. For those who arrived in Canada over the last decade, 36% were through recruiters and 47% were directly hired by employers.

“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,” said Rev. Tec Uy, one of the 70 pastors from Ontario Filipino Ministerial Fellowship–a religious organization with roughly 40,000 members.

With report from The Star and