Migrant care workers claim partial victory, continue to demand landed status on arrival

Community News & Features Jun 28, 2019 at 3:30 pm

care-workers-winTORONTO–Migrant Care Worker groups from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec welcome changes announced today that finally allow care workers to bring their families and work without work permits tied to employers. These changes respond, in part, to what care workers have been demanding for years. But this victory falls short of the permanent resident status on arrival that is necessary for migrant care workers to be treated the same as others through our immigration system. Many questions and concerns remain about the implementation of the changes announced today, particularly for migrant care workers already in Canada who will continue to be left out. Migrant workers across Canada are taking action on June 16, 2019 for International Domestic Workers Day.

“Today’s announcement is a result of care workers fighting for our rights for decades, it’s a tremendous victory and testament to our organizing and it’s not enough. Migrant care workers take care of families, and have been for centuries, this is a permanent program with a permanent solution and that means permanent resident status upon arrival for future workers, and full immigration status for all migrant workers already in the country, particularly those who have become undocmented. We particularly need changes for workers already in the country, which means removing arbitrary and unnecessary language and educational requirements, and granting open work permits to all.”
– Kara Manso, Landed Status Now Campaign, Former Care Worker, Coordinator – Caregivers Action Centre

New Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Pilot Program and Changes Needed

The new pilot program will come into force on June 18th, 2019. Care Workers will have to demonstrate 1 year of post-secondary education, CLB level 5, and a job offer in Canada to apply. They along with their spouses and children will be vetted in advance of arrival to Canada. Upon arrival, the Care Worker will receive an occupation specific work permit, spouses will receive an open work permit, and children will receive study permits. Only after completion of 24 months of service, will care workers and their families be able to apply for permanent resident status.

Care Workers have long demanded the creation of non-LMIA specific work permits, and the ability for families to accompany workers – the addition of these in today’s announcement is a victory.

Care workers demand:

• English language requirements should be kept at CLB Level 3, and educational requirements should be kept at high school. The Interim Program (see below) was created because CLB Level 5 and post-secondary educational requirements were impossible for most care workers, and unnecessary to work or live or succeed in Canada. They should not be re-introduced. These increased requirements will shut out skilled care workers who do not have the money to pay for the education and English language training.

• Care workers already in Canada should be granted occupational specific work permits immediately. The government has now clearly recognized that employer specific work permits creates conditions of abuse, there is no reason for them to be continued for workers already here.

• Migrant care workers must be able to come to Canada with permanent resident status on arrival and with their families. Migrant care work is permanent work, and requires a permanent solution, not another pilot program. Requiring 24 months of service before granting permanent resident status gives enormous power to employers which opens up the possibility of exploitation and abuse.

• The definition of the family unit must be inclusive, and children must be able to get work permits and pay domestic tuition fees. Care Worker families include grandparents, siblings and other relatives who are sometimes primary carers in the family instead of or in addition to spouses – families should be expanded from just spouse and children. Dependent children are of varying ages and there should be no age limit. Accompanying children must be allowed work permits (not just study permits) and be allowed to pay domestic tuition fees. Care workers must have the ability to choose when their families join them.

• There should be no second medical examination

• Care Workers in Quebec continue to be left in limbo. Coordinate with Quebec-based Care Worker groups and the Government of Quebec to ensure this program is extended and includes workers based there.

Interim Pathway Changes Needed

The Interim Pathway created on March 4th and which expired on June 4th is now being extended from July 8th to October 8th. This Interim Pathway was created in response to the arbitrary, unfair and unnecessary requirements that were created in November 2014, which left tens of thousands of racialized workers without a path to permanent residency, needing to choose between deportation and becoming undocumented.

The Interim Pathway lowered service requirement from 24 months to 12 months

The Interim Pathway lowered educational requirements from 1 year post-secondary education to high school education.

The Interim Pathway kept the arbitrary CLB Level 5 requirement, even though only CLB Level 3 is required or necessary to work in Canada.

While the extension of the program is a Care Worker demand, and opens up the opportunity for some workers to apply, Care Workers continue to demand:

• Expand the Interim Pathway to all workers including undocumented workers who came to Canada under the 2014 Pilot Caregiver program (i.e., grandfather all current caregivers in the program under the Interim Pathway). For those without enough service accumulated, ensure workers can be grandfathered into the new 2019 Caregiver Pilot Program;

• Allow Care Workers to apply if they have worked in Canada for 12 months, even if the work was done without a work permit; Care Workers should not have to bear the costs of the unworkable LMIA permits

• Reduce the required language level to CLB Level 3. Without this change thousands of workers face becoming undocumented;

• Remove requirement for second medical examination as was previously the law; and,

• An Interim Pathway for Quebec be created in coordination with Quebec-based Care Worker groups and the Government of Quebec. Since the creation of the Interim Pathway many Quebec based workers have been forced to move out of the province to apply for this program creating mass displacement.

Federal Workers Program

Landed Status Now demands the creation of a Federal Care Worker Program that provides landed status upon entry for Care Workers and our families. Care Workers should be able to seek employment in Canada through the national job bank. Employers seeking Care Workers can use the job bank to find care worker employees. This would take away the need for third-party recruiters / job agencies and the thousands of dollars they charge care workers to get a job.

Landed Status Now: Care Workers Organize (www.LandedStatusNow.ca) is a national coalition including Caregivers Action Centre (Toronto); Caregivers Connection (Toronto); Alberta Careworkers Association (Edmonton); Migrante Alberta; Migrante BC, Migrante Canada; Migrante Ottawa; PINAY Quebec; Immigrant Workers Centre (Montreal); Association for the Rights of Household Workers (Montreal), Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights (Vancouver), and Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (Canada).

(PRESS RELEASE)