Work Permits under the Live-in Caregiver Program – Greater Demand yet Slower Processing times

By Author: Admin | January 30, 2011

Canada’s immigration laws do  not  contain a stated intention to help elderly parents or young children.  The purposes of Canadian Immigration law are at section 3 and are stated in ambiguous  terms such as “to permit Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration,” and “to enrich and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada”.

The immigration laws of Canada as section 3 pay lip service to temporary workers (like live-in Caregivers) as follows: “to facilitate the entry of visitors, students and temporary workers for purposes such as trade, commerce, tourism, international understanding and cultural, educational and scientific activities”.

However, the focus of this section is primarily to use foreign workers and foreign students in Canadian economic endeavours.  This section on temporary visas ignores the purpose that live-in caregivers serve: to care for children and the elderly.  This task can’t be characterized as commercial, trade-oriented, tourism related, or educational and scientific.    It is supposed to be a compassionate task.

It is thus no wonder that the live-in caregiver program developed as a stop-gap measure for many developed countries to oversee people (like children and the elderly) who contribute little to the economy.  Economically diverse, developed economies have no use for the elderly.  The elderly  don’t consume much, and they don’t produce much.   Children, particularly children of more well-off parents consume somewhat more but don’t produce.  This harsh economic reality, combined with (in the case of children) a lack of a national day-care plan as well as the demographic behemoth that constitutes the baby boomers, has led to the proliferation of the live-in caregiver program.

As the International Organization for Migration has stated, Canadian-born workers don’t want these jobs. The pay is low, the shifts can be brutal and caring for older people, especially those with disabilities or dementia, is physically and emotionally draining.

This job could be made more attractive to Canadian-born workers, but not without a huge salary hike.  Similarly, better regulation of those entities that house the elderly would entail more government funds to enforce regulations on the minimum standards to be kept by homes for the aged.  Government funds to attract native Canadians as caregivers will not likely be forthcoming, given that the province of Ontario is spending two-thirds of its budget on health care and education.

As I indicated earlier, the live-in caregiver program has become less attractive to Canadians owing to the increased protections afforded to live-in caregiversThe protections came into law on April 1 2010, and have resulted in slower processing of live-in caregivers both by Service Canada (which issues labour market opinions), as well as by visa offices such as New Delhi and Manila.

A CIC employee, close to retirement, remarked to me that he would rather have a heart attack and die rather than face the likely sub-standard care he will receive owing to the double- whammy of increased health care costs and the fact that those aged 65+ (an ever-larger part of the Canadian demographic)  are the most intensive users of health services.

In summary, the live-in caregiver program invites vulnerable minorities from developing countries to take care of vulnerable individuals in Canada.   The live-in caregivers have acquired somewhat better protection under Canada’s Immigration laws, but the lot of children and the elderly will remain a question mark.   As stated above, the purpose of Canada’s immigration laws are not to take care of children and the elderly.


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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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