December 16, 2011
Live-in Caregivers Eligible for Open Work Permits Sooner!
Following a year-long investigation by the Toronto Star into the exploitation of foreign live-in caregivers, the federal government has announced a new process change. They have reviewed files for all live-in caregivers who had met their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence and decided to issue about 10,000 open work permits. These open work permits will allow live-in caregivers to move from one job to another after their employment commitment ends about 18 months sooner. Until now, live-in caregivers had to wait for an initial approval on their application for permanent residence before being eligible for an open work permit permitting them to move out of their employer’s home and seek jobs in other fields, if they wished.
The Government of Canada has taken action to protect live-in caregivers from abuse and exploitation with regulatory improvements implemented in the Live-in Caregiver Program in 2010 and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2011. These changes include:
- allowing live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized;
- the elimination of the need for a second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence;
- increasing the amount of time a caregiver has to complete their work obligations, from three years to four;
- the adoption of a standardized employment contract that ensures both parties agree to the salary, hours of work, vacation time, overtime, holidays, sick leave, and the terms of termination and resignation;
- defining the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver’s travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance and third-party representative fees;
- emergency processing of work permits and employer authorizations to hire live-in caregivers who have been abused and need to leave their employment immediately;
- a dedicated phone service for live-in caregivers through the department’s Call Centre;
- an assessment of the genuineness of the job offer, including confirmation that the caregiver would be residing in a private residence and providing child care, senior home support care or care of a disabled person in that household without supervision, as well as whether the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate; and
- a two-year period of ineligibility from hiring foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, for employers who have failed to live up to the terms of past job contracts.