There has been much debate over the poor treatment of live-in caregivers in Canada, and the Federal Government is cracking down on these allegations and providing relief to these foreign workers.
The Government of Canada has taken action to protect live-in caregivers from abuse and exploitation with regulatory improvements implemented in the Live-in Caregiver Program in 2010 and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2011. Changes include:
- allowing live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized;
- the elimination of the need for a second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence;
- increasing the amount of time a caregiver has to complete their work obligations from three years to four;
- the adoption of a standardized employment contract that ensures both parties agree to the salary, hours of work, vacation time, overtime, holidays, sick leave, and the terms of termination and resignation;
- defining the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver’s travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance and third-party representative fees;
- emergency processing of work permits and employer authorizations to hire live-in caregivers who have been abused and need to leave their employment immediately;
- dedicated phone service for live-in caregivers through the department’s Call Centre;
- an assessment of the genuineness of the job offer, including confirmation that the caregiver would be residing in a private residence and providing child care, senior home support care or care of a disabled person in that household without supervision, as well as whether the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate; and
- a two-year period of ineligibility from hiring foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, for employers who have failed to live up to the terms of past job contracts.
In 2010, CIC admitted a record number of permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class, nearly 14,000, corresponding with the record number of live-in caregivers who entered the country as TFWs in 2007.
In both 2009 and 2010, about five percent of all permanent residents to Canada were admitted through the Live-in Caregiver Class, a huge percentage for any single occupation.
However, the number of caregivers entering the program has declined every year since 2007. As a result, improvements are being made to the program and the government is geared towards facilitating an influx of caregivers as this is currently an in-demand position with a growing labour shortage.