Release: Trudeau urged to uphold gender justice and ensure permanent resident status for all as thousands of migrant women face exclusion and deportation 

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change


Trudeau urged to uphold gender justice and ensure permanent resident status for all as thousands of migrant women face exclusion and deportation 

Migrant Care Workers Demand Urgent Action on International Women’s Day at Toronto Press Conference

Toronto, March 8, 2024 – Racialized migrant women who dedicate their lives to caring for children, the sick, and the elderly spoke up today on International Women’s Day to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure gender justice by guaranteeing permanent resident status for all. Permanent residency programs for migrant care workers are set to expire on June 17, 2024, but thousands of care workers are already unable to apply for permanent residency and are at risk of deportation due to excessively high language and education requirements. Those who do qualify are excluded because of a restrictive cap filled within hours of the program’s opening on January 1, 2024.

“Migrant care workers take care of Canadian families, but we are separated from our own because of unfair requirements that exclude us from applying for permanent resident status even after we have worked in Canada for years – that’s not fair,” says Jhoey Dulaca, organizer at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Prime Minister Trudeau promised gender justice; that must include permanent resident status for all migrants in the country so we can protect ourselves.”

While Immigration Canada does not track exact numbers, there were at least 5,065 valid tied care worker permits on December 31, 2023 in Canada – the majority of whom are likely unable to apply for permanent residency through the HCCP (Home Child Care Provider Pilot) and HSWP (Home Support Worker Pilot) programs because of unfair and excessive requirements.

One such care worker is Arlene Aguilion, from the Philippines, working in Canada since 2019, who has not been allowed to have her education accredited in Canada. She described her employer’s abuse, saying, “I felt uneasy and not comfortable while living with them but I had to survive for the sake of my family. I continuously worked from 7 in the morning until 12 midnight. My responsibilities got bigger but my salary got lower. They didn’t even give me the privilege to have a day off on weekends. I felt so weak and hopeless because I didn’t know where I could seek help with my situation. I was taking care of three kids, one of whom needed special attention so my focus was on him. I had to help with his activities, homework, and personal development. Working for long hours, working without a day off, I got sick. My hair started falling out. It caused me depression and I know I can’t stay in that state. I couldn’t even get a health checkup because I didn’t have a health card.”

After years of struggle, migrant workers won the right to study in 2023. But many are unable to pay high international tuition fees and study while needing to work full-time for employers. As a result, many care workers who can’t get their education accredited are living on employer-dependent permits facing exploitation.

Others cannot apply because of English language requirements – the required scores for the care worker programs (Level 5) exceed those required for Canadian citizenship (Level 4). Mary Cruz, from Nepal, is one such care worker, who has been forced to re-take the English test seven times, despite completing her two-year PSW diploma in Ontario in English. She says, “I can communicate clearly with my employers and everyone else. You can ask them. I have been following every rule and regulation. But still, I am excluded. I want to be a permanent resident because I want to give my family a better life. I am the only one that provides for my aging parents who I haven’t seen for many years now.”

Migrant care workers must also complete 12 months of work experience to qualify for permanent residency, but the work experience expires, meaning that workers who take a break for any reason must start work anew. 

Afio Ganda, a South African care worker who has worked in Canada since April 2019. She is unable to show 12 months of work experience because her work experience expired. She says, “I was working for 13 hours a day but paid for 8 hours. I wasn’t a nanny but a slave. I did deep cleaning, shoveling snow, gardening, driving for long hours and was still expected to be the house manager. I felt trapped and exhausted. Still, I worked hard, and didn’t want to give up. I wanted to complete my 2 years so I could apply for permanent residency. I was called the “goddess nanny” because I gave it my all. I left because I couldn’t accept the treatment anymore but since then it has been impossible to find another employer willing to sponsor me.”

As a result of difficulty finding employment, or being able to apply for permanent residency, many thousands of care workers have become undocumented. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a regularization program in December 2021 to grant permanent resident status to undocumented care workers and others but no program has been created yet. 

One such care worker is Cindy Gomez from the Philippines, who completed all the requirements and applied for permanent residency but she became undocumented after Immigration Canada misplaced her documents. She says, “It is very hard to find a job to live. I can’t choose the job I want. I have to do it, even if it is hard as long as it’s work. I feel like my hands and feet are tied up. I have no freedom. I feel discriminated against. I don’t have access to healthcare. If I don’t feel well and have to go to the doctor, they always ask for my health card number. I feel ashamed and sorry for myself. Because of this, I just do self-medication and treat myself. It is very painful and hard to accept that my two children grew up without me by their side. I can’t bring back the years and memories that have passed. Me and my family are hoping that one day, we will be together and make new memories in Canada.”

Migrant care workers will be joining migrants in Toronto (and many other cities) in mass demonstrations for migrant justice on March 16, 2024, starting at 12 pm at Christie Pits Park.

Migrant Care Worker Demands For Gender & Immigration Justice

For care workers in Canada:

  • Create a new Interim Program for permanent residency for all care workers currently in Canada (including Quebec) without education accreditation and language requirements. Increase the dependent age limit in this Interim Program to allow families to reunite who were excluded through no fault of their own.
  • Issue open work permits within 30 days of application to all care workers who apply for permanent residency from inside Canada so that no one becomes undocumented.
  • End the backlog by removing the processing cap of 2,750, and process PR applications of all care workers in Canada immediately.
  • Immediately grant open work and study permits to family members of care worker applicants for permanent residency to reunite families.
  • Create a comprehensive regularization program to ensure permanent resident status for all care workers who have become undocumented.

Create a permanent solution in the future by:

  • Replacing the HCCP and HSWP with a migrant care worker program that allows racialized working class women to come to Canada with permanent resident status and their families.


For media inquiries or to request a video of the press conference, please contact:

Fatima Hussain

Communications Organizer | 647-773-2068

About Migrant Workers Alliance for Change:

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is Canada’s largest migrant-led organization, uniting migrant farmworkers, care workers, fishery workers, current and former international students, and undocumented individuals to advocate for employment and immigration justice.

See a background memo here: