Foreign nannies cry Foul

Extracted from –


Immigrants admitted through the government’s foreign live-in caregiver stream say they’ve been duped by the immigration minister, who touted the program’s success and certain growth prior to the May election, only to claw back on the number targeted for permanent residency next year.

Although the government maintains 98 per cent of livein caregivers eventually become permanent residents, last week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said fewer people were qualifying for the program, adding that it was one of two streams poised to take a hit in 2012 as the government freezes overall immigration while boosting certain economic streams.

It’s a far different tune than the one Kenney was singing last year.

“I predict that the live-in caregiver program will be a growing and important part of our immigration system in the future,” Kenney told a group of mostly Filipino nannies in a March 2010 video posted on YouTube.

It has been passed around among caregivers and advocates who have turned to an online forum and Twitter to voice their concerns.

Catherine Manuel, a live-in caregiver and volunteer with the GTA Caregiver Action Centre, said in an interview that she’s worried the government may be phasing out the program and questioned whether Kenney is a “turncoat” whose pre-election musings were little more than a ploy for votes.

The Filipino native – about two-thirds of live-in caregivers come from the Philippines – said the caregiver community was “blooming” when she first applied but that it’s been “a mess” for the last three years.

Critics say changes to the program adopted in April 2010 aimed at protecting caregivers from exploitation are part of the problem. The changes have cast a chill over the market, they say, making it onerous and risky for employers to hire live-in nannies who look after both young children and the elderly.

“Families now have to cover all the recruitment fees, the airfare, temporary health insurance for the first three months and also an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant,” said Manuela Gruber Hersch of the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada, which represents matchmaker companies and seeks to set standards for an industry that has suffered a bad rap in recent years.

Caregivers, however, are free to work for somebody else once they clear customs, she said, adding they often do.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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