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Nannies abusing sponsorship program

Nannies abusing sponsorship program


TOM GODFREY, Toronto Sun

First posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 8:29:29 EST PM | Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 8:30:42 EST PM

TORONTO¬†–¬† Canada’s nanny program is being used as a loophole to get into the country, an industry group says.

“There is no obligation for nannies to work for the family,” said Manuela Gruber Hersch, president of the Association of Caregivers and Nanny Agencies Canada, a group that works with nannies and sponsors.

Gruber Hersch said she worked on a case three months ago in which a nanny called her sponsor in Grande Praire, Alta. after arriving at Calgary International Airport to tell them she wasn’t showing up for work.

“This family had spent a lot of money and had repainted a room for the nanny,” she said on Wednesday. “This happens a fair bit and it was totally devastating for the family involved.”

She said a family can spend up to $5,000 to bring a nanny to Canada since they have to pay for their medical examination and airfare. Once approved, a nanny is issued a three-year work permit and sponsors are responsible for providing them room and board as well as a weekly stipend.

A loophole to exploit the program was created after a April 2010 policy change stemming from a controversy in which two nannies, who were hired by Brampton Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla to care for her mother, complained their passports were seized and they were not paid, Gruber Hersch said.

She said 600 nannies have changed employers in the last year.

Some nannies engage in acts so they can be fired by their families. Their visa is valid for them to work elsewhere, she said.

Most of the nannies are Filipinos, who have worked in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Dubai or the Philippines.

Toronto mom, Randi, who didn’t want her last name used, said she waited for more than two years and dished out $5,000 to sponsor a nanny, who bolted after two weeks.

“She left our family high and dry and there was nothing we could do about it,” Randi said. “The only thing this woman wanted was a ticket to come to Canada.”

Caje Fernandez said his nanny spent more time surfing the Internet searching for jobs rather than looking after his children.

“These people travel thousand of miles to get citizenship and not for the love of taking care or our kids,” Fernandez said. “They have learned all the loopholes of getting into Canada.”

Immigration department spokesman Melanie Carkner said more than 90% of those who arrive in Canada under the program apply for permanent residency after two years.

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