The pending end to the federal government’s live-in caregiver pilot project is creating uncertainty for the countless workers who came to Canada, thinking they had a clear pathway to permanent residency.
Maria Cano arrived in B.C. in March 2017, as a live-in caregiver. Since then, she’s had three different contracts, in three different cities and she says employers haven’t always treated her and others like her fairly.
“Losing a job, one employer it takes a lot of time. Second time and third time—because employers, in my experience, they don’t follow the contract,” Cano said. “They never respect it, they never respect the person who’s working with them, who’s taking good care of their children.”
Her anxiety is reaching peak levels these days.
Cano is one of many live-in Caregivers who came to Canada as part of a five-year pilot project that’s set to expire on Nov. 29, 2019. Natalie Drolet, executive director of the Migrant Workers Centre in Vancouver, said the Trudeau government has said nothing about what comes next for these workers, who thought the program would be a pathway to becoming a Permanent Resident.
“They came to Canada with the understanding that they would be able to apply for permanent residency after completing the work requirements of 24 months of full time work,” Drolet said.
She notes most of these caregivers are women from developing countries. Drolet said government’s handling of this program runs counter to its approach to improving the lives of women here.
“The government has really left caregivers in the lurch,” Drolet said. “Clearly it’s not the government’s priority to ensure that caregivers are well informed about what’s happening or to ensure that caregivers will have the right to become permanent residents in Canada.”
This week during question period, NDP Immigration Critic Jenny Kwan questioned the prime minister about what’s being done.
Touting the “improvements and reforms” made since taking office, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would only say government is still working to address concerns ahead of determining next steps.
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“Our immigration minister is working so hard with a broad range of immigration and advocacy groups to respond to their concerns to make Canada’s immigration system continue to be the example to the world that it is,” Trudeau said.
However, Cano’s dreams of this world-class system have long since been shattered.
“I was in shock when I came here and worked in the reality of one specific families and it’s really saddened me because growing up I had good visions about Canadians and a good Canadian government who’s going to embrace people for diversity,” Cano said.