New caregiver program may do more harm than good for temporary workers

By Veronica Silva

TORONTO – It was the lawyers turn to weigh-in on the new caregiver rules, and the verdict is not good.

Instead of benefiting caregivers, lawyers warn the new rules may put them in a more vulnerable situation. Top immigration and human rights lawyers urge vigilance in monitoring the implementation of the new caregiver program.

Immigration Minister Alexander announced the new caregiver program, which took effect last November 30.

“Legal minds in Toronto agree that the new caregiver program can do more harm than good to the workers,” said Veronica Silva. “While the live-in requirement has been removed, there are still many uncertainties about the program, including the pathway to permanent residency.”

Caregivers are still tied to a work permit specific to an employer, and the live-in feature is still an option that caregivers may be forced to waive if only to get a work permit.

But the 5,500 cap set on the number of caregivers to be admitted for permanent residency each year is still the contentious issue.

“So workers will not know – entering the program – if they are on the path to permanence or on a merry-go-round to temporariness,” said Faye Faraday, a lawyer. “It makes their situation much more precarious.”

Lawyers warn that caregivers may go underground because of uncertainties in the new program.

“If there are no efforts to balance the quota for permanent residency against the quota for permanent residency against the quota for incoming work permit holders, there is a very good chance, a high likelihood, that a lot will fall out of status eventually,” said Deanna Santos, a lawyer, “and will become even more vulnerable in the underground economy, because they will be more subject to abuse and exploitation because they have no status.”

While the old and new caregiver programs have its pros and cons, permanent status upon arrival is deemed as the best solution.

The caregiver community has been asking for permanent status upon arrival for years.


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