Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ)

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Policy Brief on the Live-in Caregiver Program

Posted by casjcanada on December 30, 2004

Policy Brief on the Live-in Caregiver Program
Submission of the Community Alliance for Social Justice to the
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
on the Occasion of its current review of the Program

Community Alliance for Social Justice is a non-partisan, political action and advocacy group that promotes social justice through education, training and awareness raising; social planning and research; grassroots outreach and participation; and community mobilizing and civic engagement.  CASJ is a newly formed alliance committed to addressing social justice issues faced by vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ) puts forward the following policy recommendations with regards to the Live-in Caregiver Program, a federal program that allows women and men to be recruited overseas to work in Canada as live-in caregivers.  The policy recommendations are based on various consultations conducted by CASJ with different stakeholders, including those who are still in the program, the live-caregivers themselves.

1.  Elimination of the live-in requirement of the Program

The Live-in Caregiver Program was put in place by the Federal government under the Citizenship and Immigration Canada in response to the increasing need for domestic workers and caregivers to provide quality care in the homes of well to do Canadian families.  The live-in requirement, the salient aspect of the program allows for a 24 hours, round the clock service from highly qualified and skilled workers.  However, this is also the root cause of exploitation and abuse encountered by workers in the hands of their employers. Through various research studies conducted by academics, cause-oriented groups and testimonies provided by live-in caregivers themselves, the live-in requirement breeds a very strong feudal relationship between the employer and the employee, the employee totally beholden to her/his employers.  The live-in requirement represents indentured slavery in the 21st century.

2.  Qualified and Skilled Caregivers should be granted permanent residence status

Caregivers must be granted permanent resident status as soon as specific training and education criteria are met.  Caregivers should also be allowed to bring their families, just like other immigrants to Canada, thus avoiding the personal and social costs that result from years of separation from family members. They should have the same rights accorded to other skilled immigrants in terms of access to social services and basic employment rights. Access to programs and social services should not be denied to caregivers who are currently in the Program (LCP), such as affordable housing, social services, reunification and social integration supports, skills training and legal services. Their basic rights as skilled workers should be ensured in terms of fair wages and benefits, right to protection from abuse and health and safety in the workplace.

3.  Caregivers must be given access to Social and Settlement Services, Employment Insurance, Subsidized Housing, Healthcare, Legal Aid and Child Tax Benefits.

Caregivers and migrant workers are generally victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of human rights abuse and intolerance. Because of their conditions of vulnerability and the prevalent racism in the receiving countries like Canada, migrant workers and caregivers are often exploited and maltreated by employers and recruiters, denied their basic human rights under international and domestic laws and subjected to various forms of discriminations. They are made to work long hours, including weekends and holidays oftentimes without overtime pay, forced to accept grave-yard schedules and assigned in types of work generally shunned by nationals. They are paid low wages often without medical, welfare and retirement benefits.

Canada must discontinue its anti-women and anti migrants’ “Live-in Caregiver   Program” which smacks of systemic racism and discrimination.

“Systemic racism and discrimination,” according to the position paper of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC), “are evidently manifested in the denial of access to basic benefits, including denial of Canadian-born children, subsidized housing, employment insurance, child tax benefits, healthcare, legal aid, education and settlement services.”

4.  United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights and Welfare of All Migrant Workers and their Families

Canada should sign the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights and Welfare of All Migrant Workers and Their Families which stipulates that “No migrant worker or member of his family or her family shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (Article 10); No migrant worker or member of his or her family shall be held in slavery or servitude; No migrant worker or member of his or her family shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour (Article 11).

The Canadian government’s continued obstinate position of refusing to sign the above UN Convention is a concrete manifestation of its refusal to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers that Canada is so dependent upon to fulfill its cheap labor and social needs.

We strongly urge Canada and its Federal and Provincial governments to establish and make funds available for a body that will monitor compliance of the employment contract by employers and regulate the operation of recruitment agencies.  This monitoring body should have the power to prosecute those employers found guilty of abusing and violating the provisions of the Contract.  Recruitment agencies, including immigration consultants found guilty of fraudulent and criminal activities should be brought to justice and licenses to operate revoked.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada should increase funding to settlement programmes, immigrant and caregiver rights groups to ensure that service delivery to Caregivers and Migrant workers are accessible and available.

Community Alliance for Social Justice
December 01, 2004

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