The latest immigration programs for caregivers come as a respite to families looking forward to Canada Immigration. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has decided to replace the current programs in place due to its incapability to fulfill the nationwide demand for household workforce. Hence, IRCC plans to bring about better programs and aims to bring the Home Child Care Provider program and the Home Support Worker program into effect by the end of 2019.
A few years back if you would ask a worker from the Philippines whether they regretted the choice of coming to Canada as a live-in caregiver, they’d usually say “Nay”. However, separation from family, children, and spouse undeniably evoked a sense of sadness amongst most immigrants. Despite the vital role live-in caregivers play in the lives of children and the elderly, there still exist significant challenges these immigrants have to face due to their working conditions. In the past many years caregivers have had to undergo abuse and exploitation from their employers, while others felt a sense of obligation due to the emotional ties formed with their host families. Such situations demanded a long-term objective that promised security to all immigrants where they deserve to be provided and treated as a citizen and their fundamental rights will be protected at all costs.
Canadian migration policy over the years
Tracing back to the migration to Canada prior to the 1970’s, most foreign workers were from Europe due to the legislation in place that excluded Asians. Later, it was replaced with a point system favoring individuals with higher levels of human and financial capital. It took a few decades before the Immigration and Refugee protection act (IRPA) was introduced in the Canadian Parliament in 2001. This act explicitly highlighted the importance of immigrants and immigration to build a strong and prosperous economy. It urged the Canadian community to pursue maximum benefits of immigration from a social, cultural and economic stand-point. Gradually, citizens from Asian countries including China, India, Pakistan and Philippines, became essential to this new vision of immigration to Canada and this indeed has brought a major demographic change in the ethnicity of minorities in Canada. Setting a chain reaction, there have been substantial changes to the Immigration Policy of Canada over the years to create equal access for all, through well intentioned initiatives.
The Elderly and the Immigrant
While the aging population of Canada has left several job vacancies but at the same time they have also created newer ones through their need for caregivers to assist the elderly. Earlier, caregivers had temporary Work Permits in Canada and faced difficulties if they wished to quit their job and stay in the country. And adding to it was another layer of difficulty for them, where the caregivers’ families could not join them in Canada even if they wished too. But like they say, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The government recognized this gap and now as the two new 5-year Caregiver Programs are rolled out individuals will be able to bring their families along and create a pathway for Permanent Residence. They will also be provided with greater flexibility to switch jobs and apply for Permanent Residency in Canada, after 2 years of experience.
Canada – A country for Immigrants
In the humble words of Mr. Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, “Caregivers provide care to families in Canada that need it, and it is time for Canada to care for them in return. We are providing them with the opportunity to bring their family members here and access permanent residency to demonstrate our commitment.” His words at the launch of the new Care Giver Programs clearly reflect the intent of the present-day government, which is to create an equal platform for immigrants and bring newer opportunities for them at the same time.
In summary the key highlights of these pilot projects are:
- Occupation-specific work permits for caregivers, providing the ability to change jobs quickly, when necessary.
- Open work permits for spouses/common-law partners and study permits for dependent children, to allow the caregiver’s family to accompany them to Canada.
- A total of 5500 applicants will be accepted, 2750 for each pilot project and dependents traveling along with the caregiver will not be considered as applicants.
The Government of Canada seems committed about reuniting families and eliminating any backlogs across all streams of immigration. To date, the government claims to have reduced its backlogs by a whopping 94%, while the processing time has also been significantly decreased from 60 months to the current one being 12 months. The Canadian government has so far, been successful at avoiding the toxic mix of immigrants and national security concerns that have plagued various nations, which includes Europe and America as well. This can be attributed to the sympathetic attitude of the Canadian government towards immigrants with the political will to create a more diverse society. Perhaps that’s why Canada is also referred as the “Land of Immigrants.”