July 24, 2017 – Thousands of foreign caregivers who meet requirements for Canadian permanent residence are caught up in a processing backlog with waiting times of more than four years.
It means people who have already been away from their families for extended periods face a further excruciating wait as their application for permanent resident status is processed.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is facing pressure from advocacy groups to make a special case for caregivers and get the backlog cleared.
But with so many different priorities involved in Canada immigration policy, it is unclear whether Hussen has the resources to issue such a special order.
Ottawa has taken positive recent steps for the caregiver stream – part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Officials removed the ‘live-in’ requirement from the category, and ended the cumulative duration stipulation, known as the ‘four-in, four-out rule’. This had meant a TFW was only allowed to remain in Canada for four year on a temporary work permit, and then was not allowed to return for four years.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials blames the backlog on a lack of applications processed under the previous Conservative government.
According to IRCC figures, 11,000 caregivers per year were granted permanent residence status between 2009 and 2013. The target in 2017 is 20,000.
A government Standing Committee recently conducted a top-to-tail study of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, including the Live-In Caregiver stream, with a view to making it more fit-for-purpose for Canada’s labour market needs.
Here are the recommendations made by the committee that are relevant to caregivers:
Extend work permits for caregivers in the low-wage stream from one to two years
- Review the current pathways to permanent residency for all temporary foreign workers, with a view to facilitating access to permanent residency for migrant workers who have integrated into Canadian society and are filling a permanent labour market need.
- Allocate adequate resources to allow for the timely processing of permanent residency applications for those migrant workers that are hired under the TFWP.
Establish measures to ensure incoming migrant workers and their employers are informed of their rights and responsibilities under TFWP, including dispute resolution and abuse reporting procedures, as well as information on wages, benefits, accommodations and working conditions. This information should be provided in the language of preference of the migrant worker.
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