Feb 9, 2018 – Canada’s federal government has indicated it will end the permanent residence pathway under the foreign caregiver program in 2019.
Caregivers who have not accrued two years of experience in Canada by November 29, 2019will not be eligible for permanent residence, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says.
This is the date five-year pilot programs for foreign workers caring for children and adults with high medical needs come to an end. The government is yet to decide what it will do with the caregiver programs after this date, leaving many in limbo.
It means those who have arrived in Canada since November 29, 2017 do not have enough time to gather the required work experience to qualify for permanent residence.
IRCC must decide whether it will renew the programs, end them completely, or revamp and replace what have become valuable sources of care for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and hugely popular pathways to permanent residence for foreign caregivers.
An IRCC spokesperson could only say an ‘assessment’ was ongoing.
Dating back more than four decades, Canada is believed to be the only country in the world offering a direct path to permanent residence for caregivers and their families. Access to permanent residence after two years working here is designed to make up for a job that can mean working long hours for relatively low pay.
It also means caregivers in Canada are away from their families for at least two years until they qualify for permanent residence. This makes the termination or renewal of the program an emotive issue.
The program was already dramatically tightened by the Conservative government in 2014, imposing language and education requirements and capping the number of caregivers who could be granted permanent residence at 5,500 per year.
Because of the tightened requirements, just 550 candidates have been granted permanent residence in the three years since the changes were made, compared to an average of 8,000 a year beforehand.
Many caregivers who entered Canada under the old system are still waiting for their permanent residence applications to be processed.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has made three key commitments aimed at eliminating a backlog allowed to grow by the previous Conservative government.
Those commitments are:
- Process 80 per cent of permanent residence applications on the system as of October 1, 2017 by the end of 2018.
- 12-month processing time for 80 per cent of new and complete permanent residence applications received on or after October 1, 2017
- Admit high numbers of candidates here under the Live-In Caregiver Program as permanent residents until all cases are processed.
The backlog, which peaked in May 2014, is controversial because it effectively keeps caregivers who are in Canada away from their families until their permanent residence applications have been processed.
The government recently announced it is to make some families hiring caregivers exempt from paying the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment processing fee. Recently published regulations mean families who earn a total of less than $150,000 per year will no longer need to pay the annual fee.
That Ottawa has made such a change to the program despite it being under review is an indication it has a future in some form.
However, the federal government immigration levels plan allocation for caregiver permanent residence shows that by 2020, Ottawa expects to admit only a quarter of the caregivers it admitted in 2016.
It should be noted that the reduction in numbers is linked to the clearing of the backlog of permanent residence applications under the pre-2014 caregiver program.
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