On Saturday, June 23rd, New Democratic Party (NDP) Immigration critic Jinny Sims met with caregivers and advocates in a townhall meeting in Toronto.
We would like to sincerely thank Currents & Breaking News and TheGotchaJournalist for documenting this meeting as we were unable to attend. Please make sure to view these links; all videos are taken by and remain property of them.
Suffice to say that this was a very emotional display by caregivers in Toronto who were brave enough to tell their heart-wrenching stories.
We came across this really powerful and revealing article from CaregiversOnline.org that describes the process under which an overseas caregiver gave money to a local Toronto agency for recruitment to Canada. As most in the local industry should know, but those outside may not, caregivers cannot pay anything for recruitment to Canada and the laws are even tougher in Ontario with the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (EPFNA). This article serves as a strong case for regulation of caregiver agencies, which we support along with the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada (ACNA). Agencies who have nothing to hide should be willing to be regulated in order to provide a community in which caregivers and families can trust the companies they are working with. Sadly, for the male caregiver in this story, circumstances become much more difficult due to the overwhelming preference for female nannies and caregivers. It’s unfortunate that his fellow country-person deceived him, took his money and didn’t hold up their end of the bargain even though they were operating illegally.
In April 2010, the entire Live-In Caregiver industry was turned upside down and the federal immigration program was rendered almost unrecognizable. There is no question that abuses of the LCP were widespread and rampant, and that changes were needed. However, what happened next seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction; all of the onus was shifted to the employer and caregivers were now going to be provided better work environments, faster processing and increased protection under the program.
1 1/2 years later, we are taking a look back and discussing ways to move forward for actual protection because, let’s face it.. we are worse off than we were before. Double the processing times, on average, for caregivers and families in regards to LMOs, work permits, initial PR assessment (open work permits), final Permanent Residency and family reunification. Abusive agencies and families moving to a “black market” unscrupulous industry. Worse than that, the Conservative Immigration Minister has been silent on the issue after rallying the Filipino Canadian community to provide overwhelming support for his party in the last Federal election.
Today we met with a foreign Live-In Caregiver who has been put through the ringer and her story is shocking and shows exactly why agencies need to be regulated and enforcement needs to be taken seriously. We’d like to share her story with you.
Through our dealings with the agency, we have been exposed to a new type of abuse that nannies are going through with employers, specifically in the Greater Toronto Area, but likely beyond. It seems innocent enough at first, but home care workers are being taken on a ride with promises of paperwork done and after weeks, and sometimes months, of being overworked and underpaid (if paid at all), they are let go on the basis that “it was only a trial.”