New caregiver law may force thousands to leave Canada

By Rowena Papasin

VANCOUVER – Some 1,500 caregivers may be turned away by Canada because of the new cap on permanent residency applications.

In a letter sent to the Immigration Ministry, the caregiver groups and Migrante BC expressed concern.

“Caregiver who are unable to apply within the cap may be forced to leave Canada due to the four-year cumulative work limit,” read a portion of the letter.

The 5,500 annual cap may force caregivers who are cut off to leave Canada, even if they complete the program requirements.

Opposition member of Parliament Jinny Sims is hoping to stop this. She filed a motion before Parliament asking government to remove the cap.

“They will have to go back,” said Sims. “Once again, you have people who put their life on hold, left their children and families to come to work here, and they come here with the expectation that they’re going to have permanent residency, a pathway, and suddenly, for most of them, the door will be shut.

“Really, it doesn’t matter kung gaano karami ang gusto nilang cut, ang CDWCR, lagging posisyon ay talagang pumasok ng landed so kung ano yung pinapasok nila, yun ang dapat maging PR,” said Julie Diesto, of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights.

The groups also want government to clarify if the cap for both streams will affect caregivers already there and if they will be assessed under the new rules before they become citizens.

Sims explains, the new pathways make it more difficult for caregivers because of higher language and educational requirements.

“The live-in caregivers already have to be qualified before they come here, and I think those qualifications have always been there,” said Sims, “so the government is putting more barriers in the way, at the very time when seniors’ numbers are increasing, more people are needing caregivers.”

While caregiver groups welcome the removal of the live-in requirement, they are also unsure if current caregivers can afford it.

They also worry of putting their employment security at risk.

“Puwede nab a silang makipag-renegotiate ulit sa kanilang employers para puwede akong mag-live out na?” asked Diesto. “Because they are still under the regulations ng live-in caregivers. So kung under sila ng live-in caregivers ay iva-violate nila yong rule na yon.”

The Immigration Ministry has yet to reply to the letter or the motion filed in Parliament. The Philippine Consulate in Vancouver, meantime, has asked for a dialogue with Canadian officials to discuss labor and immigration issues affecting Filipinos in Canada.

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