The Canadian Council for Refugees calls on Canada to care about caregivers
This International Women’s Day, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) calls on the federal government to change its policies to respect the rights and contributions of the many women who come to this country as caregivers.
Caregivers look after the children and elders of Canadians, while they themselves are separated from their families for years on end. They work for years with only temporary status in Canada. Recent changes have called into question whether they can receive permanent residence, causing confusion and anxiety in the caregiver community. In 2014, the guaranteed pathway to permanent residence for caregivers was removed when two caregiver streams replaced the previous program, and caps on permanent residence applications were imposed. The federal government has recently announced that even this limited access to permanent residence is being closed in November 2019, with no clear commitment about what will replace it.
The CCR calls on Canada to welcome these workers as permanent residents, and not force them to endure painful years of family separation.
Women have come to Canada to do caregiving and domestic work for more than a century, with the government’s encouragement. In the first half of the 20th century, they were welcomed on a permanent basis. Only after racialized women became the majority was caregivers’ access to permanent residence put into question.
The CCR believes that Canada must acknowledge the valuable contribution to the Canadian economy and society made by all migrant workers, including caregivers. The federal economic immigration program must be revised to include workers of all skill levels. Until this happens, all caregivers should be able to apply for permanent residence status at the same time as they apply for a work permit.
Family separation takes an immense toll on the mental health and wellbeing of caregivers and their children, who are separated from each other for many years. This separation weakens the family and community fabric. As a result of the ongoing backlog in permanent residence applications, many caregivers have waited five years or more for their children to join them in Canada, in addition to the initial years of work before they complete requirements to apply for permanent residence.
Canada’s commitment to families must include allowing caregivers and other migrant workers to come to Canada with their family members.
8 March 2018