Advocacy & Issues
ACNA Canada promotes the highest level of integrity and expertise to all parties in the caregiver industry, and is the only association currently working with employers, workers and agencies. Through communicating closely with these parties and lobbying the government, we work to identify and provide solutions to key issues which currently exist within the Live-in Caregiver Program.
Industry overview and issues:
On April 1, 2010 the government implemented changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) making it mandatory that anyone hiring a live-in caregiver be responsible for all the costs incurred by both parties, including all recruitment fees and the caregivers’ airfare to Canada.
The changes have now excluded many families from hiring a caregiver unable to afford the large upfront costs, and with no protection put in place, families who are hiring are at high risk of losing out financially should the caregiver in question leave the employment, as she is legally able to do at any time.
Minimizing the risks to Canadian Families
ACNA fully supports the idea of Canadian families taking on more financial responsibility than they did prior to April 1, 2010. However, rather than eliminate the risks involved in the program, the government has simply transferred them all to the hiring family. Asking a family with young children or elderly relatives in need of care to risk losing thousands of dollars to bring an overseas caregiver to Canada, when the caregiver has no legal obligation to work for the family for any mandatory length of time, is unacceptable.
A system should be put in place which provides the employer with a way to claim back the cost of the airfare should the caregiver terminate the employment early without good reason. Alternatively the caregiver should purchase their own airfare and be reimbursed by the employer on completion of so many months of employment.
Ensuring the mandates are enforced
Legitimate Canadian agencies who have now made it a requirement that employers purchase the caregiver’s airfare should not be penalised for this; losing business to those agencies who let caregivers purchase their own airfare in order to make more placements. This is also at risk of occurring through private hires (where an agency is not used) where the Canadian family is not aware of the new mandates and/or the caregiver offers to pay for the flight because they are so desperate to come to Canada.
This issue can be eliminated by Canada Immigration enforcing this mandate and checking the airfare has in fact been purchased by the employer when the caregiver arrives in Canada.
ACNA has received correspondence from the Office of Director General Andrew Kenyon that “…the foreign caregiver must show to a customs officer proof that airfare was paid by the employer.”
Ensure applicants who do apply as live-in caregivers are serious and well-intentioned
It is important that caregivers coming to Canada do so with some form of investment made by them personally. As the program now stands, overseas caregivers can enter Canada within five to six months with absolutely no investment made by themselves and based only on their acceptance of an offer of employment.
The government changes in this regard were intended to bring the LCP in line with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. However this ignores the fundamental differences which exist between the two programs; large corporations hiring temporary foreign workers can receive tax breaks on the airfare, Canadian families cannot. And whilst temporary foreign workers must return home at the end of the employment, live-in caregivers are able to apply for permanent residence on the completion of two full years employment. This is a huge incentive for less than well-intentioned applicants to agree to a family’s offer of employment simply as an easy way to come to Canada.
“Nanny poaching” and “Job hopping”
The extra cost and risk involved in hiring an overseas applicant has resulted in caregivers already in Canada on the LCP becoming highly sought after. This is leading to increases in “nanny poaching”; where a caregiver already working for a family receives a competing offer of employment from another family, and nannies “job hopping”; moving from one employment to another without making a long term commitment to a family.
Though the three months of processing time can dissuade caregivers from changing employers, the new LCP mandates allowing an increased time in Canada with which to apply for PR status to four years, has made changing employers more of a possibility.
A system should be put in place that ensures caregivers switch employers only for valid reasons (i.e. the employer not following labour standards). This would also reduce the risk that families who do choose to hire overseas and have made the financial investment to do so, do not hire a caregiver who is simply using them to come to Canada, and terminates the employment soon after arriving in order to work for a family offering a better position; i.e. the family having less children to care for or living in a more attractive location.