Kristina Torres

Caregivers’ situation worsens under new rules

  • September 2, 2015

TORONTO - Changes to Canada’s Live-in Caregiver’s Program (LCP) promised to improve the immigration path have actually made things worse, says Kristina Torres.

“The changes didn’t really do anything for us, it has just made it worse,” said Torres, a parishioner at St. Michael’s Cathedral, who spoke to media on Aug. 30. “It has put me in a trap and I don’t know what do.”

Torres, who came to Canada through the LCP in 2012, was laid-off for the second time last October.

One month later, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander promised faster processing times within the program and announced a number of changes, such as the removal of the live-in condition, which sought to improve conditions for caregivers. At the time, Torres was delighted by the news.

But the improvements never materialized, said Torres, who has been waiting almost a year for her Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. As a temporary foreign worker, the process is required for her to gain new employment.

Torres is not alone in waiting. The Caregivers Action Centre says as many as 90 per cent of caregivers’ LMIAs have been rejected since the new process was implemented.

“Without an LMIA caregivers in Canada cannot start new jobs and caregivers outside of the country can no longer come here,” said Karina Francisco, a spokesperson for the advocacy group.

Not only are the majority of LMIA applications being rejected, it is now the employers who are required to pay the $1,000 processing fee. Torres said employers are reluctant to do so when so many are being rejected.

The group also claims that average processing times for permanent residency application, which those in the LCP can file after completing 3,900 hours of work, have doubled from 23 months to 46.

“Today the Filipino and immigrant community is calling out Chris Alexander for promising caregivers improvements but secretly shutting them out,” said Francisco. “His overhaul of the program has largely resulted in broken promises.”

The caregivers are pressuring the government to live up to the promises and truly reform the program.

“It is the right time for them to consider putting the caregiver program through a … revision that would favour the caregivers and wouldn’t expose us into more vulnerability,” said Teta Bayan, who’s struggled to find suitable employment since first arriving from the Philippines in 2012. “Canada has a great need for caregivers from child care to people with disabilities and the elderly with higher medical needs.”

She went on to say that those who enter Canada via the LCP should be granted permanent residency upon arrival and those currently working in the country through the program should be issued an open work permit, which would eliminate the LMIA requirement, immediately.

“This will promote equality and respect.”

Despite the criticism the a spokesperson on behave of Alexander insisted the LCP reform has improved the program.

"The reformed (Live-in) Caregiver Program provides faster, safer and better opportunities for caregivers in Canada," said Alexandra Day. "Under the improved program, approximately 90 per cent of all competed LMIA applications have in fact been approved contrary to what was cited by conference attendees."

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.