Recently I was invited to speak at the Migrant Workers’ Forum, hosted by the Migrant Ministry of Assumption Church in Ottawa. I had been asked to speak about changes to Canada’s immigration system affecting live-in caregivers. A copy of my PowerPoint presentation can be found here. The audience was primarily female, almost all of whom had come as live-in caregivers from Philippines.
The forum began with a dinner, prepared by volunteers and funded by community business partners. It was my first opportunity to try Filipino food, and hopefully not my last. After the formal presentations, there was a DJ and dancing – country music and line dancing! I had no idea line dancing was big in Philippines.
Speaking to Filipino Live-in Caregivers at the Migrant Workers’ Forum
My talk, unfortunately, was not as cheery as the rest of the evening. I spoke about the high rate of refusal of Labour Market Impact Assessments for new caregivers wanting to work in Canada. I talked about how the new four-year duration limit on temporary work permits was affecting caregivers who had not yet submitted an application for permanent residence. I talked about how the end of the requirement for a nanny to ‘live-in’ was positive, but, due to the low pay, many nannies would still need to live-in for financial reasons.
The answers to questions from the audience were similarly dour. One woman said that she’d received initial approval on her application for permanent residence, and wanted to know when her application would be finalized allowing her husband and children to come to Canada. ‘Somewhere between tomorrow and forever’ was my answer. I was asked if caregivers would be given special consideration when applying for citizenship and if there would be a reduction in the residency requirement in light of the amount of time it takes for a caregiver’s application for permanent residency to be processed. The answer to that was quick – no.
Two women came to the microphone with personal questions. One said her husband’s application to come to Canada had been refused. She had married him two years after she’d applied for permanent residence. She did not report her change in marital status and became a permanent resident after she’d married. After she became a permanent resident, she wanted to sponsor him. I explained that family members who did not have a medical examination or provide their police certificates cannot later be sponsored. I said the only option for an undeclared family member was a humanitarian and compassionate application. What I didn’t say was that the chances of success for that application were very, very low.
Another woman was here on a temporary work permit. She said she had a daughter with Down Syndrome. She asked how this would affect her application for permanent residency. I told her that she needed to see a lawyer. I didn’t want to tell her, in front of all of those people, that her daughter was likely medically inadmissible to Canada, and by having a medically inadmissible child, she was inadmissible as well.
So much hardship, all in one room.