The Caregiver Program, established in November 2014, offered migrant caregivers two pathways to permanent residency. The ministerial instructions that established those pathways will expire in 2019 and the government has given no clear indication to whether it will renew them or set up a replacement program.
Migrant caregivers who arrived after November 29, 2017, will automatically be ineligible for permanent residency since they will be unable to complete the 24 months before the expiration. For those that arrived before that date, their eligibility for permanent residency can be easily jeopardized by factors outside their control, such as sickness or job loss.
Previous iterations of the Caregiver Program imposed a time limit of 36-months to complete the 24-months of work experience. This was eventually lengthened to 48 months since short time-limits were acknowledged as a contributing factor in the decision of workers to stay in exploitative and abusive situations. With the government’s decision to maintain the November 29, 2019, deadline, migrant caregivers working in a job where their rights are being violated will be forced to choose their well-being and their eligibility for permanent residency.
This new development will increase the vulnerability of migrant caregivers to abuse, exploitation, and foster slave-like conditions in a sector already plagued by problems of contractual breaches, labour standards violations, and human rights abuses.
The government should be working to give landed status to caregivers upon arrival, which has been identified by migrant advocacy groups across Canada as necessary for ensuring the rights of these workers are respected. In the meantime, the government should abolish any time-limit on the access to permanent residency for migrant caregivers already in Canada.