The Liberal government launched new pilots for foreign caregivers to replace existing programs that have been criticized for many shortcomings- keeping some trapped in exploitative work situations and keeping families separated.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced two new five-year initiatives that will allow caregivers to bring family members with them to Canada and make it easier for them to become permanent residents.
“Caregivers provide care to families in Canada that need it, and it’s time for Canada to care for them in return,” Hussen said in a statement. “We are providing them with both the opportunity to bring their family members here and access (to) permanent residency to demonstrate our commitment.”
Hussen announced details of the pilot projects during an event at the Neighbourhood Organization in Toronto.
Under the new pilots:
• Applicants will be assessed for PR status prior to working in Canada. After they have a work permit and two years’ work experience, they can have a “direct pathway” to permanent residency.
• Caregivers will be granted occupation-specific work permits, allowing them to change jobs quickly when necessary.
• Spouses and common-law partners will be allowed open work permits and dependent children will be allowed study permits so caregivers’ families can come with them to Canada.
• A total of 5,500 principal applicants will be permitted annually, and family members will not count toward the cap.
A news release from Hussen’s office said the existing foreign caregiver pilot programs, which were brought in under the previous Conservative government in 2014 and are set to expire this November, were “ineffective.”
Last fall, a national coalition of caregiver advocacy groups called the system “fundamentally flawed” and pushed for reforms that would improve working conditions and allow caregivers to stay with their families. They said the 2014 regime extended the legal basis for exploiting caregivers.
A report published at the time by the coalition recounted stories of foreign caregivers struggling with family separations, difficult and sometimes abusive work environments and a complex bureaucracy.
Caregivers have temporary work permits that tie them to one employer. That compels them to work with the employer named on those permits and makes it difficult for them to leave a bad workplace situation, the report said. -CINEWS