Canada's Caregiver Program a Brings Frustration to Some Filipinos

Canada’s Caregiver Program, formerly known as Live-in Caregiver Program has become a gateway for many Filipinos who wish to work in Canada. But as more Filipinos are now based in Canada, and are the ones recruiting qualified caregivers, they end up in “heartbreaking situations.”

Immigration lawyer David Cohen, in his blog, said families are frustrated at having to pay $1,000 when they file for application to hire an overseas caregiver, wait for months for a response, only to have their applications rejected by visa officers who are not convinced the person will leave Canada upon the end of his or her work term.

Cohen took the case of Surrey, British Columbia resident Eleanor Tarun, whose brother is a qualified caregiver in the Philippines. She applied for her brother to come to Canada to help take care of her family when her maternity leave ends. Tarun followed all legal procedures, including paying $800 to a local nanny agency to advertise the available position. Since 2014, caregiver hiring under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program requires employers must advertise to local labor market before looking for applicants overseas.

However, Tarun’s application was rejected. ““You have not satisfied me that you would leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for your stay,” said a visa officer on behalf of the government.

In 2014, former Employment Minister Jason Kenney said something must be done about the Live-in Caregiver Program who described it as having mutated into a program of family reunification.

Cohen asked, looking for answers on situations when employers would prefer a stranger rather than a family member to care for their families, assuming all else are equal.

He further asks if the intention of the government is to give opportunity for caregivers to become permanent residents — noting the admission target of 22,000 new caregiver permanent residents this year — the intention to leave Canada as a requirement after finishing their term appears contradictory.

As a result, the biggest losers, according to Cohen, are the members of the Filipino community who have established their presence in Canada. In 2014, it has become the top source of new immigrants to Canada, overtaking China and India. It also has the biggest share of international caregivers in Canada.

“Putting two and two together, it is natural that if one of the top source countries for new permanent residents also happens to be the country most caregivers in Canada come from, it will follow that in some situations Filipino residents of Canada will wish to have a family member come to Canada as a caregiver. In that situation, the family should be supported, not rejected.” Cohen said.

He further advised that “the Temporary Foreign Worker Program should be for businesses that face local labour shortages. It is a program that should aim to help Canadian businesses be successful. It should not be an umbrella program that also includes a mom and dad trying to operate a household.”