Shortly after her father’s death, Kristina Torres came to Canada in 2012, hoping to support her mother and younger sisters in the Philippines by caring for the children of a Canadian family. However, Ms. Torres has been unable to work for months as she waits for a new work permit. She says she is a casualty of changes made to Canada’s caregiver immigration program that were intended to better protect caregivers.
Unemployed since last October, Ms Torres says she was fired without cause by her employer. In order to work again, she must first get a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from a new employer, a process that now takes months.
Her situation is not unique. Ms Torres has called on the federal government to grant caregivers permanent residency on arrival, a move that would bolster their rights and make it easier for them to leave employers that treat them unfairly.
Canada changed the rules governing the caregiver immigration program nine months ago, removing the requirement that caregivers live with the families that hire them. However the rules to acquire an LMIA, proving the job was widely advertised and no qualified Canadians could fill is being interpreted far more restrictively than ever before. In the first months after the changes, documents obtained by a caregiver advocacy group showed that the number of approvals to bring in a caregiver from abroad dropped by as much as 90 per cent.
The Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada believes that the government wants to encourage employers to raise wages and hire Canadians for these jobs. However, the new rules can inadvertently encourage a caregiver to stay in a bad employment situation because the time it takes to get approved for a new work permit will threaten her ability to work enough hours to apply for permanent residency.
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