Parliament Video: Jenny in the House: Live-in Caregivers - Part 1

On February 7, 2017, Jenny stood to speak of Live-in Caregivers:

Jenny Kwan (NDP) Vancouver East, BC

"Madam Speaker, for many years Canadians have turned to live-in caregivers to provide care for their children and their seniors. As the accessibility of child care and home care for aging seniors has become increasingly difficult and the cost of child care is unaffordable, the demand for live-in caregiver programs has increased.

I do not think anyone questions the fact that there is a clear, long-term, demonstrated labour shortage in this area. The previous Conservative government acknowledged that the program was broken and that the live-in caregivers are in a very vulnerable position, prone to abuse and exploitation. Its supposed fixes to the problems in the program were entirely deficient and missed the central point, and that is, if individuals are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay.

Currently, live-in caregivers must work for two years in Canada before they can even apply for permanent residence. This leaves them in a vulnerable position, as individuals could be placed in a position where they are being exploited, but would not come forward out of fear that they would lose their opportunity to apply for permanent residence and ultimately gain access to Canada and become a citizen.

Not only is it a major problem, but while the Conservatives did away with the live-in component, they added other onerous barriers to the pathway for permanency for the caregivers program. For caregivers to be eligible to apply for permanent residence, they need to have Canadian post-secondary education credentials of at least one year, or an equivalent foreign credential supported by an educational credential assessment.

To top it off, even if they meet that requirement, there is now a backlog of almost 60,000 applications and increasingly longer processing times for the care workers to gain permanent residence in Canada and to be reunited with their families. In fact, the average wait times for families is four and a half years. The processing time is taking so long that for many families, their medical, criminal, and security checks have expired, and by the way, each medical costs an extra $200 for each individual. It is a huge financial burden.

Immigration lawyer Lobat Sadrehashemi highlighted the injustice caregivers face when compared to other immigration streams at the citizenship committee. She stated:

Even if you look at other programs, such as the Canadian experience class—which does require one year of work, so it's very similar—you'll see that their applications for permanent residence are processed in six months. That's the average processing time. Because they are allowed to bring their spouses on accompanied work permits, they are not separated from their families, whereas live-in caregivers are separated from their families while they are doing their work requirement, and then on top of that, their processing takes eight times longer, and during that time they are not with their families.

With such long delays in processing for some families, their children have aged out and would not be included in the application as they renew the process. As a result of this, lots of families are breaking down. Children have suffered such long separation from their mothers that they struggle to reconnect with them and, in effect, their mothers are strangers to them.

I ask government members to put this to themselves. What would they do and how would they find this acceptable if it were their own family in that situation?

For caregivers, it is a minimum of six years of separation. I hope the government will be in agreement on this point. This is frankly inhumane, and we need to fix the problem."

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