Toronto, February 10, 2023 – Today’s announcement by Minister Sean Fraser to reduce the term of service for migrant careworkers from 24 to 12 months is a result of migrant care worker organizing but migrant care workers continue to be denied permanent residency and therefore equal rights.
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has over 2,500 migrant care worker members, many of whom are exploited at work, and remain separated from their families because of unfair conditions that remain in place despite today’s announcement.
The previous federal Conservative government re-shaped the existing caregiver program in 2014, creating a 5-year pilot program, with increased requirements for permanent residence for migrant women who take care of children, sick and the elderly. Program requirements were onerous – new English language and Education accreditation requirements – disqualifying most migrant care workers in Canada.
As a result of migrant care worker organizing, the newly elected Liberal government created a partial amnesty program, called the “Interim Pathway” in June 2019 and removed the Education requirement for a brief period. Thousands of migrant care workers applied through the Interim Pathway for permanent residence status. Hundreds have still not had their application processed, some of them have been in Canada since 2014 or earlier.
However, at the same time the Liberal government created yet another 5-year pilot program. This program maintains the unfair requirements created by the previous Conservative government, as well as a 2,750 cap for applications accepted per year.
Today’s announcement maintains the exclusionary nature of the program including:
- Migrant Care Workers continue to be required to secure an English level score that is higher than what is required for the citizenship test. Care workers live and work here, but are unable to gain the scores in the stressful and expensive test and therefore remain permanently temporary or become undocumented.
- Migrant Care Workers continue to be required to get their education accredited as equivalent to one-year of Canadian post secondary education. However, they do not require this accreditation when they first apply. As a result, many either do not have this qualification or cannot have their qualification accredited and they remain permanently temporary or become undocumented.
- The program only accepts 2,750 applications per year each, despite there being an unlimited number of work permits issued. The Gaining Experience category for the childcare program reached its quota in the first 3 hours of opening in 2023. Many are now stuck, unable to apply until January 1, 2024.
- Migrant care workers will be required to collect 12 months of work experience – this is effectively indentured work. Many workers are forced to stay in exploitative conditions so as to meet this work criteria.
MIGRANT CARE WORKERS ARE CALLING FOR:
- Full and permanent immigration for all care workers now, and on arrival in the future
- Clear the backlog: No more waiting for permanent residency processing
- No more quotas or caps on applications
- No more employer dependent (tied) work permits
- No English language requirements
- No education accreditation requirement
- Reunite families
“Migrant careworkers like me have been speaking up and fighting for landed status now; reducing the work requirement to one year is a step forward but that still means exploitation for one year. We don’t want half of the exploitation, we want equal rights and that means permanent resident status for all. We need an end caps, unfair language and education requirements and an end to the backlog.” – Jhoey Cruz, Migrant Careworker Organizer, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
“What the government is doing right now is unfair and unjust. What about us who are not qualified because of our language tests and the education requirements? I can’t apply for permanent residency, I can’t be with my children. How many days will we spend without our loved ones because there is always exclusion for low-wage workers like caregivers. I hope the government will give permanent resident status for all so we can be reunited with our families back home – Razel Lapaz
“I’m happy for myself that I don’t need to finish the 24 months but I’ve been here three years, and just completed more than 12 months work experience. I had to leave so many jobs because of bad treatment and now I am waiting for my employer to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment, so that I can then get a work permit as I need to stay in valid status. It still doesn’t address the issue of long processing times. I’m also sad that a lot of caregivers still wouldn’t be able to apply.”- Anna A.
For more information
Jhoey Cruz, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, 416-897-4388, email@example.com