Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Caregivers Taken for a Ride

"Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true, and you might get a worse deal than what you have before."

Naghangad ng kagitna sansalop ang nawala

For Immediate Release
26 April, 2011

Canada's Live-In Caregivers can't vote in the elections, will vote on the streets

Toronto -- Dozens of members of the Caregivers Action Centre will take to the streets in Toronto's largest immigrant rights march on the eve of Federal Elections (May 1, 2011) starting at Queen Street and Jameson Street at 1pm to condemn Harper Government.

The Conservatives have consistently lied to migrant workers who have been demanding status on landing for hundreds of thousands of migrants in Canada.

"The Conservative government says that Live-In Caregivers can get immigration status after four years in Canada," explains Catherine Manuel, a worker leader with the Caregivers Action Centre. "But the reality is that the documentation requirements the processing delays at CIC, the so-called discretionary second medical exam, all make it really difficult to get status."

The estimated retention rate (ERR) for Live-In Caregivers between 2003-2007 was 53%, that means of the 19,072 live-in caregivers entering Canada from 2003-2005, only 10,043 attained permanent resident status by 2007.

"Live-In Caregivers are internationally trained workers, that take care of Canada's most precious possessions - the sick, the elderly, children and those with special needs", says Pam Grio "and instead of the honor and recognition we deserve, we face wage theft, abuse, deplorable work conditions and harassment from recruiters".

"There are nearly 300,000 temporary migrant workers in Canada each year, we work in people's houses and in factories, we pay all kinds of taxes, but are barred from accessing full health care, social services, education and the right to vote," says Pura Velasco, who came to Canada as a Live-In Caregiver in 1991. "We need status on landing for migrant workers; we need respect for the work we do."

Conservative Government’s attacks on migrant workers under the Live-In Caregiver Program:

Following the death of Juana Tejada, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Jason Kenney said that Live-In Caregivers will not be forced in to a second medical exam. But the regulations give immigration officers discretionary powers to compel Caregivers to undergo a second medical exam.

Following the completion of the 24 months “live-in” work requirement and the first stage approval of the permanent resident application, Live-In Caregivers are entitled to an open work permit. However several members of the Caregivers Action Centre report waiting up to 13 months without this permit.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has instituted new documentation requirements (such as confirmation of employment from all employers) which only increases the Caregiver’s dependency on employers for their status and make it more difficult for a caregiver to leave an abusive working environment. Further, Caregivers are also being asked to provide financial documents from the previous 24 months before being granted permanent status - not only does this requirement create further burden on caregivers to provide more documentation, it is also highly intrusive into personal privacy.

Effective April 1, Canada will now subject temporary foreign workers to a four-year cumulative duration limit. This means that temporary foreign workers in Canada, including live-in caregivers, may only work for a maximum of four years. After reaching this limit, temporary foreign workers must go back to their home countries, wait for another four years to lapse before re-entering Canada again as temporary workers.

The new regulations regarding the waiver of the second medical examination is not applicable to pending applications for permanent residence under the Live-in Caregiver Program. This means caregivers who already submitted their application before April 1, 2010 are still required to undergo the mandatory second medical exam and if they fail they are inadmissible to Canada. Therefore, medical inadmissibility is still making it extremely difficult for some caregivers to unite with their families after the completion of their employment.

The Caregivers Action Centre (CAC) is a worker-based organization of live-in caregivers, newcomers and their supporters, advocating and lobbying for fair employment, immigration status and access to settlement services through self-organizing, research and education.

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For more information,

Pura Velasco, Organizer, Caregivers Action Centre

647 782 6633 - caregiversactioncentre@gmail.com

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