CIMM – Caregivers - June 2, 2021
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- Caregivers from abroad play an important role in supporting Canadian families who are unable to find the care they need for a family member in Canada.
- The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots are designed to provide a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence for in-home caregivers.
- These pilots remove specific barriers that caregivers have faced in the past, by making it easier for them to change employers, if needed, and by allowing them to bring family members to Canada sooner.
- These pilots opened for applications on June 18, 2019, and will run for five years. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working to overcome the pandemic-related roadblocks that have interfered with processing applications from caregivers.
- For caregiver applications, the Department has committed to:
- finalizing permanent residence applications for up to 6,000 persons by the end of December 2021;
- making at least 1,500 eligibility decisions by June 2021 to facilitate the issuance of (temporary residence) work permits;
- increasing digitization of caregiver applications; and
- ensuring applicants receive modified acknowledgement of receipt letters by May 31, 2021.
If pressed on vulnerability cases and issues:
- The pandemic has highlighted the unique vulnerability of in-home work that is also live-in work for caregivers. Concerns related to the dependence on an employer for one’s livelihood and shelter have driven significant program change since 2014.
- Ensuring the protection of temporary foreign workers in Canada is a top priority for the Government. While provinces and territories are responsible for labour legislation and workplace protections in their jurisdictions, the federal Government has tools in place to prevent and respond to situations of workplace abuse, and to help workers exit these situations when they do occur.
- The Government has put in place a wide range of special measures during the global pandemic to support workers needing to change employers, or to maintain status, which in turn can help support their goals for permanent residence.
- Many caregivers in Canada as temporary residents are eligible to access legal aid and health care coverage. Administration of these programs falls within the jurisdiction of provincial/territorial governments and specific eligibility parameters differ between regions.
- In most cases, caregivers with work permits would receive coverage for provincial health care, although there is often an initial waiting period which must elapse prior to the commencement of coverage. Those applying to extend their status and who are currently on ‘maintained’ status may encounter challenges, which are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
- Legal aid is typically provided based on financial need, with specific income thresholds varying by jurisdiction.
- Foreign nationals who have lost their status and are unable to take advantage of the COVID-related facilitative measures or otherwise qualify for the caregiver pilots may also apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
COVID impacts on jobs and job offers
- As a result of the pandemic, some caregivers may face reduced work hours, or the loss of a job or job offer, impacting their goal to become permanent residents.
- While the requirement of acquiring two years of Canadian work experience within a three-year timeframe provides some leeway, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is monitoring whether this could become a barrier for some.
- The Government has also introduced and extended pandemic-related measures that support foreign workers and visitors, to find work, change employers or to help them maintain their status.
- Temporary foreign workers in Canada, including caregivers, may be eligible for COVID income supports, including the Canada Recovery Benefit, in certain circumstances, such as if they need to self-isolate or have lost income due to COVID-19.
Caregivers on occupation-restricted open work permits
- Caregivers now receive an occupation-restricted open work permit if they have a job offer in Canada as part of their permanent residence application through the caregiver pilots and meet other eligibility criteria (except for the Canadian work experience).
- Once working in Canada, caregivers can start gaining the required two years of Canadian work experience to become permanent residents.
- Individuals working on occupation-restricted open work permits issued for the new pilots have the flexibility to find a new employer in their occupation should they need to, including if their job was impacted by COVID-19. They can change employers as needed, without applying to IRCC, as long as they stay in their authorized occupation.
- Employers can hire caregivers on these and other types of open work permits without a labour market impact assessment.
Caregivers on employer-specific work permits
- Under a public policy that took effect on May 12, 2020, foreign workers (including caregivers) on employer-specific work permits who lose their job or have their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19 could find a new employer and have their work permit application expedited. They may also be eligible to begin working in their new job while awaiting a decision on a pending work permit application.
- The new work permit application must be supported by a job offer, which typically also requires a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment. Previously, these workers couldn’t begin working in a new position until a new work permit was issued.
Income Support – impacts on permanent residence goals
- Caregivers may be concerned about the impact of receiving federal benefits and emergency income supports on their goal for permanent residence.
- Receipt of temporary income supports, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Employment Insurance or provincial supports related to COVID-19, will not necessarily be determinative of an applicant’s ability to support themselves or become economically established in Canada, as many will return to employment when the restrictions in their province have been eased.
- Applicants will still be required to meet eligibility and admissibility criteria and this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Time not working – impact on permanent residence goals
- Time spent laid-off or not working due to the pandemic does not count as work experience for the purposes of qualifying for economic immigration programs like the caregiver pilots. More work and time may be needed to meet the requirements of a pathway, and for some applicants this may mean they need to change employers or extend their work permit.
- Under the caregiver pilots, an applicant has three years to obtain the required two years of work experience to qualify for permanent residence.
Caregiver pilot processing times
- Applications (either for permanent residence only, or permanent residence and work permit applications) have a 12-month processing service target.
- For applicants who were also issued an occupation-restricted open work permit under this process (because they did not have the 24-months work experience), a 6-month processing target applies to the final stage of the application once the caregiver submits proof they have met the 24-month Canadian work experience requirement.
- There have been delays in processing applications for the caregiver pilots associated with the pandemic, but processing has resumed.
- Given unprecedented processing challenges in 2020, processing of new pilot applications effectively stopped in March 2020, but resumed in February 2021. Office closures and the prioritization of other lines of business affected IRCC’s ability to manage application intake to the legislative limit of 2,750 applications per pilot.
- Caregiver processing will ramp up over summer 2021; paper applications have also begun to be digitized to facilitate remote processing.
Public Policy and Ministerial Instructions
- On May 3, 2021, a temporary public policy and Ministerial Instructions were issued to manage applications under the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot in 2021 and into future years.
- The temporary public policy allows the Department to process applications that were received in 2020 under the caregiver pilots, but not entered into processing in the same year, without impacting processing limits under the pilots for 2021 and future years. The public policy essentially mirrors the eligibility criteria of the pilot class in which the client applied.
- The Ministerial Instructions set a maximum intake cap of 2,750 applications which can be received in a year for each of the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot. This ensures that application intake does not exceed the number of applications which can be processed in a year for pilot programs pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. If an application is received beyond this cap, the application and fees will be returned.
Cap on applications under the pilots
- The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots allows Officers to process up to 2,750 applications annually, for a total of 5,500 applications per year, including principal applicants and family members.
- Demand for these pathways continues to be high. The Department has received at least 2,750 applications under the Home Child Care Provider pilot as of May 2021. The pilot is now closed to new applications and will re-open on January 1, 2022. The application cap has not yet been reached for the Home Support Worker Pilot in 2021.
Inclusion of caregiving occupations in the recently launched Temporary Pathway to Permanent Residence
- On May 6, 2021, a new pathway to permanent residence was launched, permitting international graduates from Canadian post-secondary institutions, and temporary foreign workers with Canadian work experience in an essential occupation to apply.
- In recognition of their essential contribution to Canada, in-home caregiving occupations (National Occupational Classification [NOC]) 4411 – Home child care provider or NOC 4412 – Home support worker) were included in this new pathway.
- This pathway provides foreign in-home caregivers in Canada with an alternative avenue to permanent residence, with relatively easier criteria, including an official proficiency level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 and one year of full-time work experience in the last 3 years.
Differences in language proficiency requirement between the new Pathway and Caregiving Pilots (Responsive)
- Official language proficiency ensures newcomers, including those in caregiving occupations, are better equipped for changing economic circumstances and can more easily find a new job if the initial employer-employee relationships breaks down. They also allow newcomers to participate as members of their new communities, by enabling them to identify and participate in social and civic activities and develop meaningful relationships, a key factor to reducing vulnerability and social isolation.
- The language proficiency requirement for the temporary worker stream in the new Pathways is set at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4. This approach captures the greatest number of temporary residents while maintaining the economic criteria that has been shown to increase resilience and lead to improved economic outcomes.
- This new pathway is a temporary, exceptional, and facilitative measure to respond to the pandemic and recognizes that some applicants may have faced additional challenges in qualifying and applying for permanent residence.
- Given the one-time nature of this pathway, flexibility was introduced across all eligibility criteria including language proficiency. So while generally requiring language proficiency of CLB 5 or higher, CLB 4 was retained for the occupations included in this pathway to ensure that those working in these critical occupations could also benefit from this expedited pathway to permanent residence.
- Minimum language requirements are in place to help ensure improved economic and social outcomes of caregivers. As such, caregivers are more readily able to participate in the economy, barriers to settle or integrate in the local labour market are reduced, and employers are able to confidently hire immigrants with the language ability required to offer the care needed by their loved ones.
- In caregiving occupations, this minimum language proficiency is especially critical for the health, safety, and comfort of both the caregiver and the individual receiving care. For example, a CLB 5 level of language proficiency permits caregivers to communicate in routine situations, such as following a pharmacist’s instructions on taking medicine and more easily follow a simple conversation over the phone.
- On the other hand, an individual with a language proficiency level of CLB 4 is able to understand simple communication, although they may have difficulty with more complex tasks. For example, they may require an illustration to help assist with understanding, making telephone conversations more difficult for these individuals.
Hiring caregivers as temporary foreign workers
- The Department has stopped processing new employer-specific work permit applications in the home child care provider or home support worker occupations for overseas foreign nationals for the duration of the pilots. Instead, caregivers with a job offer to work in Canada are issued an occupation-restricted open work permit after they’ve been assessed for permanent residence. This supports the pilots’ goal of providing caregivers coming to Canada with a clear pathway to staying in Canada. This does not apply to foreign nationals destined to work in Quebec.
- Foreign national caregivers already in Canada on employer-specific work permits continue to be able to apply for work permits extensions in the two pilot occupations through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment). They may also apply for permanent residence through the new pilots.
- The two pilot occupations are included on the list of priority occupations for expedited work permit processing, for those in Canada applying for a new or extended work permit.
Personal support workers and caregivers working in long-term care facilities
- Labour market needs in the healthcare sector are prevalent across the country, and have consistently been identified as a priority sector. In particular, IRCC is aware of the significant need for personal support workers to work in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals.
- Personal support workers, also called Continuing Care Assistants, are eligible for permanent residence through a number of streams under the Provincial Nominee Program, as well as through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. In fact, personal support workers are on some provinces’ and territories’ “occupations in demand” lists.
- Provincial Nominee Program streams often target workers with previous in-Canada work experience (although some target workers directly from overseas) and knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages.
- In 2020, based on feedback from provinces and territories, the occupation of nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (NOC 3413) was added to the list of eligible occupations for the NOC C Initiative currently being run through the Provincial Nominee Program. 2021 will be the last year of this temporary initiative.
- The Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot were launched to match immigrants with specific labour market vacancies in the regions and communities served by these pilots. Program partners – provinces and territories, employers, and communities – can focus these programs on skill sets that are in high-demand in their areas.
- Healthcare professionals are recruited through both of these programs, which are also open to intermediate skilled healthcare professionals such as personal support workers. In fact, under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the first two candidates to receive permanent residence were both licensed practical nurses working at long-term care homes in Sault Ste. Marie.
- The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot is Canada’s model for refugee labour mobility. Phase I of the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot saw a total of 7 applicants arrive in Canada – three as personal support workers. With the commitment to admit 500 principal applicants under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot Phase 2, we are poised to see the number of healthcare workers increase as this is an area of chronic shortage across Canada.
Transition pathway versus permanent residence on arrival
- Stakeholders have repeatedly called for permanent residence on arrival for in-home caregivers and other foreign workers.
- Canada, with the exception of some streams under the Provincial Nominee Program, does not have occupation-based permanent residence on arrival programs. Instead, on the basis of longitudinal data and research on outcomes, economic immigration pathways select immigrants on the basis of their ability to succeed in the Canadian economy and society over the long-term based on their human capital attributes (official language proficiency, education and skilled work experience).
- A job offer alone, without consideration of language capacity and educational levels for permanent residency status, could increase vulnerability in the instance of a specific job coming to an end and the individual not being able to find alternate employment. For permanent residents we want to ensure that individuals are positioned to be broadly employable as conditions change.
- We note that as long as there are caregivers in Canada on work permits, demand will continue to be high for a ‘transition’ pathway, such as that provided through the current Caregiver pilots.
Supporting facts and figures
- In 2019, over 9,800 caregivers and family members were admitted to Canada under all caregiver programs combined (the Live-in Caregiver Program legacy program, the 2014 pilots, the Interim Pathway for Caregivers, and the new 2019 pilots).
- For 2020, the overall admissions target for caregivers was 5,000. Office and border closures have resulted in lower 2020 admissions. Approximately 2,800 caregivers, and their family, were admitted as permanent residents in 2020.
Eligibility requirements (including language proficiency)
- Caregivers are required to demonstrate their attainment of standard criteria for economic immigration programs, including meeting language (Canadian Language Benchmark 5 or higher) and education (a credential, Canadian or equivalent, of at least 1-year of post-secondary study) requirements.
- These requirements, which are similar to those required under the 2014 pilots, help ensure caregivers are in a position to successfully establish themselves in Canada as permanent residents.
- Official language testing remains widely available and testing organizations, in most countries, are not significantly impacted by COVID-19 reductions in service.
- These requirements have not proven to be barriers, as demand for the pathways remains relatively high.
- In order to qualify for permanent residence, applicants must also have acquired 24 months of caregiving work experience over a 36-month period. This additional flexibility is intended to provide leeway for short periods when caregivers are not working or need to change employers due to COVID-19 or for other reasons.
- The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots were designed to provide a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence for in-home caregivers. They remove specific barriers that caregivers have faced in the past, by making it easier for them to change employers, if needed, and by allowing for them to bring family members with them to Canada sooner.
|Family members able to accompany the applicant to Canada?
|Live-in Caregiver Program (1992-2014)
|NoFootnote * – Family separation prolonged given no provisions available for family members to accompany applicant to Canada.
|Yes – Family members able to join applicant in Canada once caregiver approved for permanent residence.
|Interim Pathway for Caregivers (2019)
|2014 Caregiver Pilots
Caring for Children
Caring for People with High Medical Needs
|2019 Caregiver Pilots
Home Child Care Provider
Home Support Worker
|Yes -- Family members are eligible to come with the applicant to Canada once applicant is approved for the work permit associated with these pathways. Family members provided with open work/study permits.
|Yes – For caregivers applying directly for permanent residence (already acquired the necessary work experience), family members are eligible to join applicant in Canada once caregiver is approved for permanent residence.
Previous caregiver programs
- The Government launched the Interim Pathway for Caregivers to provide another opportunity for caregivers in Canada to stay permanently. The pathway required reduced work experience and education criteria compared to the 2014 pilot programs and current pilots. Open to applications for a total of six months in 2019, over 4,000 caregivers applied under the pathway, plus their families. While the pathway is now closed to new applications, all applications received will be processed.
- The Live-in Caregiver Program was phased-out beginning in 2014 due to persistent concerns over vulnerability and family separation. The program has resulted in high volumes of admissions of caregivers in recent years as the Department worked to process on a priority basis the accumulated inventory of applications. There are still some caregivers in Canada working under “legacy” Live-in Caregiver Program work permits; of those, most have already applied for permanent residence.
- The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs pilots, launched in 2014, replaced the Live-in Caregiver Program, but were terminated in 2019 just prior to their expiry, when the 2019 pilots launched. While eligibility criteria are similar between the 2014 and 2019 pilots, the 2019 pilots focus on two occupations where demand for a caregiver pathway is highest (home child care and support workers).
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