The Live-in Caregiver Program helps Canadians access live-in caregivers from other countries to provide child care, or support care for seniors or people with disabilities. The program enables the entry of qualified caregivers into Canada when Canadians or permanent residents can’t fill job vacancies. After having completed the program’s requirements, participants can apply for permanent residence by virtue of their participation in the program.
During consultations held throughout 2008 and 2009, program stakeholders told Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that the program’s participants were facing a number of challenges that stemmed, in large part, from their vulnerability to exploitation. The vast majority of Canadians who employ live-in caregivers have their best interests at heart. Nevertheless, it became apparent that more needed to be done to respond to the concerns mentioned above, while maintaining a program that helps a significant number of Canadians.
On December 12, 2009, a number of regulatory and administrative changes were proposed to improve worker protections and to make the transition to permanent residence through the program easier. The amendments to the regulations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act became law on April 1, 2010. The changes include:
- Expanding the time frame in which caregivers are able to complete their two years of work in order to qualify for permanent residence. Caregivers now have four years to meet the requirements where they previously had three. This offers caregivers more flexibility to deal with life’s unexpected events.
- A more flexible assessment of our requirements. Caregivers who work overtime may now use it to their advantage to apply for permanent residence sooner. They may now become eligible after:
- 3,900 hours over a minimum of 22 months, with a maximum of 390 overtime hours; or
- Two years, at regular full-time rates.
- Reducing uncertainty faced by caregivers. Some caregivers have been denied permanent residence on the ground that an illness was discovered in a standard second medical examination after a caregiver had completed the requirements of the program. CIC now has the authority to assess medical admissibility in an application for permanent residence based on the medical examination administered before coming to Canada as temporary residents. This means the elimination of the second standard medical examination all live-in caregivers were required to undergo in Canada, after having completed their two years of employment.
At the same time, a number of administrative changes were announced, including:
- Mandatory clauses in the employment contract, which must address:
- employer paid benefits, as described below;
- hours of work, including overtime hours;
- holiday and sick leave entitlements; and
- terms of termination or resignation.
- New employer-paid benefits, including:
- transportation to the place of work in Canada from the live-in caregiver’s country of residence;
- private medical insurance, prior to activation of provincial health coverage;
- workplace safety insurance, or equivalent insurance if the former is not available; and
- all recruitment fees associated with hiring a live-in caregiver.
- Emergency processing of labour market opinions (the employer’s authorization to hire) and of new work permits for caregivers already in Canada who face abuse, intimidation or threats in their current jobs.
- A new caregiver telephone service offered through the CIC Call Centre, which helps to better inform caregivers living in Canada and employers of their rights and responsibilities under the program.
- Improved information products available to live-in caregivers, which are currently being developed.
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