TORONTO, (July 22, 2014) – In a report published today in the Toronto Star, a new study raises serious questions about the federal government’s proposed changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).
After announcing changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program last month, Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander raised the possibility of removing live-in caregivers’ ability to apply for permanent residency under the LCP, claiming that Filipino families were abusing the program for family reunification.
“Instead of being a program of family reunification, our study shows that the program is actually one of family separation,” says Dr. Ethel Tungohan, co-investigator of the Gabriela Transitions Experiences Survey. “Taking away these women’s right to permanent residency will create significant harms to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist.”
In a direct challenge to the government’s claims, the national study of 631 former and current live-in caregivers shows that the vast majority were recruited to Canada through employment agencies. Only one in ten recent caregivers were hired by relatives.
The study suggests that over half of all live-in caregivers in Canada are separated from their children while they perform their caregiving duties in Canada. It reveals worsening processing times for permanent residency applications, which lengthens the amount of time live-in caregivers are separated from their children.
The study also shows that most live-in caregivers continue to provide caregiving services even after they exit the LCP. 68% of live-in caregivers stay in care work three to five years after finishing the LCP, with a further 45% staying in care work five to ten years afterwards.
“These women are highly educated, providing child and elderly care in the absence of a national care strategy and are often working in very difficult situations,” notes Dr. Tungohan.
“Canadian families and caregivers fought hard for live-in caregivers’ right to permanent residency years ago. Taking that right away would be a serious step backwards.”
The Gabriela Transitions Experiences Survey (GATES) is a national survey of current and former live-in caregivers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The purpose of GATES is to gather information about the experiences of the Filipina women who are transitioning to life as Canadian permanent residents after completing the Live-In Caregiver Program. GATES is a community partnership between Ryerson University and York University and led by GABRIELA Ontario as its main community organization partner.
Download GATES Preliminary Analysis (PDF)