The Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced improvements in its Temporary Foreign Worker program. But organizations of Filipino-Canadians and OFWs believe that the new policy of requiring live-in caregivers to remain with one employer to be eligible for a work permit for three years and three months is a violation of their human rights.
BY SIKLAB CANADA
Posted by Bulatlat
Vancouver, B.C. – National organizations of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Philippine women in Canada are very critical of the recent announcement of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that there would be changes in its foreign worker programs.
The CIC said the changes are “improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker program” and that these are meant to “address challenges that Canadian employers face”.
“These changes are once again a slap in the face of thousands of migrant workers in Canada especially Filipino live-in caregivers working under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP),” said Glecy Duran, National Vice-Chairperson for Western Canada of SIKLAB-Canada (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers-Canada. Siklab is also a Filipino word referring to a spark or blaze).
“These changes do not fundamentally alter the LCP in ways that would uphold the human rights of these migrant workers,” asserted Duran.
CIC announced that live-in caregivers will be eligible for work permits for up to three years and three months if they remain with the same employer. This extension corresponds with changes to the Labour Market Opinion’s validity for the same time period.
Live-in caregivers must complete a strict 24 months of live-in work within a stringent three-year time limit.
“Many live-in caregivers do not remain working for the same employer over this two to three year period for various legitimate reasons”, Duran said, “For instance, some decide to leave their employers to look for better working conditions with another employer if they suffer severe exploitation and oppressive conditions while living in their original employers’ homes.”
“The three year and three month work permit is useless to the live-in caregiver who ends up changing employers. In fact, when a live-in caregiver applies for a new work permit after changing employers, CIC’s increasingly lengthy processing time, which may take up to three months, severely impacts on the chances of a live-in caregiver being able to complete the 24 months of work within the 3-year period, especially if she ends up changing employers many times.”
“These changes are clearly in response to employers’ complaints about the long processing time they had to wait in recruiting foreign workers”, said Duran, “Yet the government chooses to blatantly ignore the plight of live-in caregivers, the majority of whom are Filipino women”.
Since the early 1980s, nearly 100,000 Filipinos have lived and worked in Canada as live-in caregivers through the LCP. Over the decades, advocacy groups like SIKLAB-Canada and the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC) have been critical of the government’s neglect of Filipino live-in caregivers.
SIKLAB-Canada and NAPWC have maintained that the LCP is an anti-woman and racist policy that sentences live-in caregivers to a lifetime of domestic work, cleaning, and other service sector work, stealing their dignity and stripping them of their previous work experience and education.
“Canada continues to increase its use of foreign workers to fill the growing labour shortages, including live-in caregivers,” stresses Duran. “Yet Canada continues to violate these foreign workers’ human rights and discriminate against them, preferring to keep them as an invisible source of cheap and docile labor.”
The national groups remain firm in their call to scrap the Live-in Caregiver Program. “Canada touts itself as a protector of human rights around the world, yet in their own backyard, thousands of women continue to toil under the LCP with little protection or services,” asserts Duran.
“If Canada is really serious about its leading role as a champion of human rights, then the government should recognize the vast contribution that live-in caregivers have made to Canadian society by removing the live-in requirement and grant permanent residency to these migrant workers, as well as full accreditation and reciprocity to foreign trained professionals,” Duran concluded. (Bulatlat.com)