Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has made a promise regarding caregivers working as temporary foreign workers in the country.
Ahmed Hussen assured in a statement on February 16, 2018 that Canada is not abolishing its caregiver program, and that caregivers have a guaranteed path to permanent residence.
“Let us be clear. There is and always will be a pathway to permanent residency for caregivers under our government,” Hussen said. “Our government will not be shutting down opportunities for caregivers to become permanent residents.”
Hussen issued the statement following uproar over uncertainties about the caregiver program that were caused by a note posted on the website of his ministry in early February this year.
Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) declared on the ministry’s website that caregivers will not qualify for permanent residence unless they complete 24 months or two years of work by November 29, 2019.
It can be recalled that on November 30, 2014, the federal government revamped the then Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).
The LCP was a program that allowed caregivers, mostly women from the Philippines, to come, work, and later apply for permanent residence after working for two years.
The door to new applications to the LCP was closed on November 30, 2014, and caregivers wanting to work in Canada will have to apply for a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Workers’ Program (TFWP).
In addition, the federal government introduced two new pathways for permanent residence for caregivers on a five-year pilot basis: the Caring for Children Class, and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class.
Each category has a cap of 2,750 applications for permanent residence each year. Faster processing of applications for permanent residence was also provided, which is six months.
The two new classes for caregivers will end on November 29, 2019.
The IRCC stated on its website in early February that caregivers will need two years of full-time work experience to be eligible to apply for permanent residence on that date.
The announcement created uncertainty about what will happen to caregivers who arrived in Canada after December 1, 2017 as well as those who are in between employers and will be unable to accumulate 24 months of work.
Anna Malla of the Caregivers Action Centre in Toronto described the ministry’s action in a Toronto Star report as “another underhanded way for the government to quietly take away the pathway for permanent residency for caregivers”.
Former and current caregivers as well as their supporters held a press conference in Vancouver on February 12 to call for a fair policy on permanent residence.
“The time is up for using temporary solutions for this important and permanent need for Canadian society,” Lorina Serafico of the Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights said in a Vancouver Sun report about the event.
In his February 16 statement, federal minister Hussen said that the pilot projects for Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs are up for review.
“I’d also like to be clear that the review of the pilots is in no way about the end to a pathway to permanent residency for caregivers,” Hussen promised.
The controversy has revived the longstanding call for Canada to grant permanent residence to caregivers upon arrival in Canada.
In a statement, Annette Beech, spokesperson of the Victoria Filipino Canadian Caregivers Association based in Vancouver Island, said: “Considering there is nothing temporary about Canada’s need for caregivers who provide a valuable and skilled service to countless families – the time is now for the federal government to grant all caregivers permanent residency upon arrival.”