September 14, 2009
Pushing for fundamental changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program
Reaction to Government of Canada’s response to proposed recommendations by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Migrante-Ontario is extremely disappointed at the Conservative Government of Canada’s response to the recommendations presented by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in its May 2009 report Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers.
In its response released August 19th, the Conservative Government issued a sweeping blow against the hope of many foreign temporary workers including live-in caregivers. The Government through Minister Jason Kenney of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, outlined its strong opposition to proposed changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program.
The government has opposed the following vital recommendations of the Standing Committee: 1) “provide for a possible one-year extension of the three-year period during which a live-in caregiver must complete 24 months of employment in order to be eligible to apply for permanent resident status;” 2) the implementation of the “Juana Tejada Law;” and the 3) removal of the ‘live-in’ requirement.
This almost blanket opposition to vital recommendations reflects the government’s lack of understanding of what caregivers have been going through all these years. It was a slap on the face of all caregivers who suffered and are suffering from cruel conditions that LCP brings. By opposing the proposed fundamental changes, the government has done a great disservice to the most vulnerable workers in Canadian society.
The Conservative Government also opposed the possibility of granting all foreign temporary workers a “pathway to permanent residency” arguing that “labour needs are not all permanent” and “some other needs fluctuate with the economy and are sometimes unpredictable.”
We think however that the government fails to see the importance of labour in the context of human necessity. We need to understand that many of these foreign workers have left their country in search of a better life in Canada, hoping that they would stay long enough to provide for their families. If the government does not provide them with the opportunity of becoming permanent residents, many of them may just soon go back again to ground zero in terms of providing their families even with very basic needs. This minority government should stop treating its foreign temporary workers like disposable goods.
Many caregivers and advocates including us were thrilled when the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration released its recommendations last May followed by another report in June entitled Migrant Workers and Ghost Consultants. The timing then was perfect as it happened after the Ruby Dhalla scandal. But we know that a lot of politics comes into play in the process of pushing for policy reforms in the legislative setting. We also understand that the reports need the approval of the majority in the House of Commons.
But the hopes that caregivers and advocates have clung to for a long time may just have been dashed once more. With the negative response from the Harper government, the fate of the two landmark reports has become unclear. The impending threat of election makes it more difficult for caregivers and advocates to expect the passage of the reports.
Should there be an election soon, we can expect the various political leaders to include the issue of fundamental changes to the LCP in their platforms. They will take this opportunity to commit to certain reforms in favour of caregivers and other foreign temporary workers.
For us – the community – this is a time to reassert our basic demands such as to allow caregivers to come as landed immigrants without conditions; implement the “Juana Tejada Law” or the removal of the second medical exam when caregivers apply for permanent residence; make the work permit job-specific instead of employer specific; and remove the mandatory live-in requirement. This is a time for us to insist on solid commitments from the candidates, and to make a case against political leaders who deal with us through false and broken promises. ##