Official Opposition sends letter to Kenney and Alexander

Community News & Features Aug 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

August 12, 2014

Subject: Live-in Caregiver Program

Dear Minister Alexander and Kenney,

We are writing to express our continuing concern with proposed changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) and the general lack of information available. Your government keeps giving indications that changes are coming but little in the way of actual details. The consultations you are now holding largely appear to be closed door and lack the necessary transparency this program and those affected deserve.

Over the past months, my colleagues and I have been consulting with Canadians on the Live-in Caregiver Program. Many we have spoken with have expressed concern with recent comments alleging that the LCP is “out of control.” We have heard concern that important advocates and experts in the area have not been invited to be a part of your government’s consultations. We are troubled that instead of holding transparent, public and open consultations to strengthen the LCP, you have seemingly targeted specific communities for allegedly abusing the program and are conducting closed door consultations.

Canadians turn to live-in caregivers in order to provide valuable care for their children or relatives because affordable care options are increasingly difficult to find. The NDP is willing to work with your government to strengthen the LCP and to help provide affordable care to the rising number of Canadians who feel squeezed between raising their children and caring for relatives.

Throughout our consultations we have heard that the LCP needs to be strengthened to better protect live-in caregivers from potential abuse by employers. As you know, live-in caregivers are requried by the program to live with their employers. This leaves them in a position where they are vulnerable to abuse. Some are forced to work unpaid overtime or to do household chores that are not part of their contracts. Since live-in caregivers have to work for 2 years for one employer in order to qualify for permanent residency, many do not report abuse, since they fear jeopardizing their chance of obtaining permanent residency.

We are again calling on your government to strengthen the LCP to ensure that live-in caregivers are granted permanent residency as soon as they arrive. Changes to the program must be also explored to allow for caregivers to live apart from their employers thus affording better protection from a minority of employers who might abuse their postiion.

Finally, we are asking you to open your consultations to interested Canadians, front line workers, academics and experts who know firsthand the realitites of live-in caregivers. These groups and individuals must have the opportunity to hold an open and honest discussion with you and your officials and the results of these consultations should be made public at the soonest possibel opportunity.

We look forward to your response on this important issue.

Sincerely,

[signed]
Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe,
M.P.
, Pierrefonds-Dollard
Official Opposition Critic for
Citizenship and Immigration

[signed]
Jinny Sims
M.P.
, Newton-North-Delta
Official Opposition Critic for
Employment and Social
Development Canada