Consultations on caregiver pathways to permanent residence – Summary report - 2018

Overview

In spring 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) undertook a review of two five-year permanent residence pathways for caregivers, the Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs programs, to inform the development of a future pathway to permanent residence. These pilots will expire on November 29, 2019.

In February 2018, the Minister of IRCC announced the Government’s commitment to have an improved pathway to permanent residence in place for caregivers before the 2014 pilot programs expire.

As part of this review, IRCC engaged a wide group of stakeholders representing a range of perspectives, including caregivers, service provider organizations, employer representatives which include nanny agencies, academics, and others. Consultations were organized through a series of in-person and teleconference meetings. To ensure an inclusive consultation process, interested groups and individuals were also invited to share their views through written submissions.

To help guide the consultation, participants received a discussion document. The full discussion document can be found in Annex A.

Consultation methods

In-person and teleconference meetings

From February to April 2018, in-person meetings were led by representatives of IRCC and held in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Teleconferences were held when in-person meetings were not practical or possible. These meetings were attended by over 125 stakeholders.

Consult Annex B for a list of dates, locations and participating organizations.

Written submissions

On March 14, 2018, invitations for written submissions were sent out by IRCC to key stakeholder groups and those who had previously indicated interest or expertise in the subject matter.

The submission period was open for six weeks to ensure as many stakeholders as possible were able to submit their views. A total of 45 written submissions were received from individuals and organizations.

Consult Annex C for the written submission guide.

What we heard

There were a wide range of views expressed during the consultations. The following section highlights the most common input shared with the Department during the consultation period.

While it is not possible to capture the details of all comments received, stakeholder input can generally be grouped into four recurring themes:

  • Unique challenges of caregiving work and precarious status of temporary foreign worker caregivers;
  • Departmental communications and information around the 2014 program change;
  • Permanent residence program requirements, particularly Canadian work experience, education and official language skills; and
  • Processing times and related challenges under the former Live-in Caregiver Program.

Unique challenges of caregiving work and precarious status of temporary foreign worker caregivers

The most frequent request raised by stakeholders was to grant caregivers permanent residence on arrival, to recognize their contributions to Canada and end their precarious status as temporary residents. Stakeholders spoke about the importance of caregiving work and referred to caregiving as a permanent rather than a temporary need. Many felt, however, that caregiving work was devalued; for example, some stakeholders raised issues with the classification of in-home caregiving occupations as “lower-skilled” (in other words, National Occupational Classification C).

Stakeholders raised concerns about the challenges of caregiving work, such as the isolated nature of the occupations, and the need to work and live in the homes of employers to support themselves, despite the removal of the formal live-in requirement from caregiver programming in 2014. Many suggested that these challenges were worsened by caregivers’ status as temporary residents, particularly if they had a work permit tied to one employer. For example, some caregivers reported experiences of abuse by employers (such as financial exploitation, physical violence and verbal abuse), but feared that leaving or reporting abuse would result in loss of their status or eligibility for permanent residence. Many also said that they had accepted poor working conditions and low wages in order to acquire the Canadian work experience required for permanent residence.

While permanent residence on arrival was the most popular recommendation made by stakeholders to help reduce temporary foreign worker caregivers’ vulnerability, other suggestions included increasing the number of employer inspections and making these inspections stricter, and providing caregivers with open work permits so that they could more easily change employers without fear of losing their status or being deported. Some suggested limiting third-party intervention between applicants and employers, including the role of employment agencies and recruiters. Stakeholders spoke positively about the removal of the live-in requirement in 2014, and said that they would like to keep this element in future programming.

Many stakeholders spoke about the challenges of obtaining a new work permit if they were released by their initial employer or their work permit expired. As such, some said they had to work in Canada unauthorized to support themselves and their families overseas. In this context, some stakeholders asked that the Government regularize the status of caregivers whose temporary status and authorization to work had expired, or who had lost their status but were still working in Canada. Other stakeholders asked that they be permitted to appeal negative decisions on Humanitarian and Compassionate permanent residence applications.

Departmental communications and lack of information around 2014 program changes

Stakeholders, including service provider organizations, academics, lawyers, caregivers and advocacy groups, raised concerns about the information and transparency of communications regarding the end of the Live-in Caregiver Program and launch of the caregiver pilots in November 2014. Many said that it was difficult to find information on the departmental website. When asked where they obtained their information about caregiver programming, many caregivers said that they looked to third parties or informal sources of information (such as friends and family members, recruiters and employment agencies), and admitted that they were sometimes misinformed about program requirements. Many said that they did not realize that the education and official language requirements had changed under the 2014 permanent resident pilots, and that they believed they were being assessed for these criteria when they applied as temporary residents, as they had been under the former Live-in Caregiver program. As a result, many caregivers said they found out after they arrived in Canada that they did not meet the education and official language requirements for permanent residence.

Stakeholders also mentioned that it was unclear that the new programs introduced in 2014 were five-year pilots and would expire in November 2019. They expressed concern about caregivers who had continued to come as temporary residents, but would not have time to acquire the two years of Canadian work experience needed to apply for the programs before their expiry. Stakeholders generally suggested that future caregiver programming be permanent rather than for a limited time (for example, under a pilot), to give caregivers more assurance and stability. Given what stakeholders saw as unclear information around the program changes, many asked that permanent residence be granted to caregivers already in Canada who could not qualify for the caregiver pilots.

Some stakeholders raised that caregivers can receive inconsistent information regarding their case status when they call the IRCC call centre. When asked what the Department could do to communicate with potential caregiver applicants going forward, suggestions included the use of social media, publication of Ministerial Instruction manuals or Program Delivery Instructions, and ensuring consistent and comprehensive information on caregiver programming, including via the Department’s call centre.

Permanent residence program requirements, particularly Canadian work experience, education and official language skills

Stakeholders frequently raised issues with the two years of Canadian work experience required to qualify for permanent residence, suggesting that caregivers should not need to work for two years as temporary residents in order to apply for permanent residence. While the most popular suggestion was to grant caregivers permanent residence on arrival, as with some high-skilled economic immigrants, other suggestions included allowing caregivers to bring their family members to Canada while they acquire the Canadian work experience required for permanent residence, and giving caregivers more flexibility to acquire Canadian work experience. For example, some stakeholders suggested that the Department accept work experience in a combination of caregiving occupations, rather than in a single occupation. Others suggested recognizing foreign as well as Canadian work experience.

Stakeholders also raised concerns about the level of education and official language skills required for the Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs pilots (one-year post-secondary education and a Canadian Language Benchmarks 5 (7 for nurses)). Suggestions included lowering both the official language and education levels to make it easier for temporary workers to meet the criteria and to reflect what some believed was appropriate for the occupational requirements. A few went as far as suggesting that official language and education requirements be removed altogether.

On the other hand, some stakeholders suggested that official language levels should remain or be increased, to ensure caregivers’ health and safety on the job, and to help them find future employment or progress in their careers. Another suggestion was to assess permanent residence criteria before caregivers arrive in Canada, as under the Live-in Caregiver Program, so that applicants would know up-front if they meet the requirements.

Stakeholders spoke about the challenges for caregivers to upgrade their qualifications if they were already in Canada, suggesting that it was difficult or impossible for caregivers to study in Canada because they need to work full-time to acquire Canadian work experience for permanent residence and could not afford international student fees. Many were under the impression that caregivers could not study as temporary foreign workers.

When asked what skills and qualifications caregivers needed to succeed in the short and long term, many stakeholders suggested that caregivers should have more opportunities to upgrade their qualifications and develop their skills while in Canada. To this end, proposals included providing access to settlement services at the temporary residence stage, including official language training; providing access to training on how to navigate the Canadian labour market; and working with service provider organizations to provide orientation sessions.

Many stakeholders recommended providing permanent residence to caregivers already in Canada who could not qualify under the 2014 caregiver pilots, particularly if this was due to the official language and education requirements. They expressed concerns that many caregivers were misinformed by third parties prior to arriving in Canada as temporary workers, and were unaware of the pilot program’s requirements to obtain permanent residence.

Processing times and related challenges under the former Live-in Caregiver Program

Of significant and continued concern for stakeholders, including by former and current caregivers, are the processing times for permanent resident applications under the former Live-in Caregiver Program. Lengthy processing times have resulted in prolonged family separation for many applicants while their permanence residence applications are being processed. Stakeholders highlighted how this separation from family members, particularly mothers and their children, has led to significant trauma for caregivers, breakdown of family relationships, and difficulties with the long-term socio-economic integration process of their children.

Stakeholders also expressed concern about the need to pay for medical examinations for both their temporary and permanent resident applications, and obtain new assessments if the validity period of their documents expired before their permanent resident application was processed. As a result, many suggested that caregivers should only have to undergo one medical assessment for admissibility purposes. They also spoke about the challenge of obtaining police certificates from their country of citizenship for family members included in the application, which caused significant delays in processing.

Stakeholders consistently reiterated their approval for the processing times under the caregiver pilots (the majority of applications are processed in less than 6 months).

Other comments received

Other comments received, not directly related to caregiver programming, but immigration policy more broadly, included concerns with subsection 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act, which relates to inadmissibility on health grounds that might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services. Stakeholders suggested that it was unfair that caregivers provide caregiving services, but are unable to bring their family members as permanent residents if they have medical needs that are expected to cause excessive demand.

Next steps

The Department will continue to work towards the development of a pathway to permanent residence for caregivers, taking into account the views expressed during consultations, analysis of the 2014 pilots, and relevant reports, including the 2016 report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disability.

Annex A - Discussion guide

IRCC Caregiver Pilot Programs - Discussion guide

Background

Why are the caregiver pilot programs ending on November 29, 2019?

The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs programs were created through a clause in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that allows the Minister to create a pilot program that can last no more than five years and process no more than 2,750 applications per program per year. Because these pilot programs were created on November 30, 2014, they are scheduled to end on November 29, 2019.

What is IRCC doing to engage with stakeholders on future immigration options for caregivers?

The Government of Canada has committed to having an improved pathway to permanent residence for caregivers in place before the current pilots expire. The Government has been conducting an ongoing dialogue with caregivers. Views and ideas that you provide to us will be looked at as part of the review of caregiver immigration and in developing options for caregiver immigration after November 2019. We are also engaging with other key stakeholders in order to gather a wide range of views on future pathways to permanent residence for caregivers.

We recognize that we may not be able to meet with all interested groups, but we would like to make sure that everyone who has a view to share can do so. That is why IRCC is also asking for written submissions. These submissions will help inform the development of program options for caregivers before the pilots expire.

Proposed agenda
  1. Introductions and opening remarks (10 minutes)
  2. Background and context (15 minutes)
  3. Discussion (60 minutes)
  4. Next steps and closing remarks (5 minutes)
Discussion topics

IRCC wants to hear your perspectives on the current caregiver pilot programs and ideas on how to improve the pathway to permanent residence for caregivers. We understand that a caregiver’s journey begins before their initial arrival to Canada and includes all elements of their time in Canada before applying for permanent residence. However, for this discussion, we would like to focus on your views on the permanent residence program in particular.

Questions
  1. What parts of the current pilot programs do you hope will be kept?
  2. What parts of the current pilot programs do you hope will be changed and how?
  3. What do you think are the most important skills and qualifications for caregivers to be able to:
    1. do their jobs well in the immediate term; and
    2. do well in Canada in the long term?
  4. What would be the best way to communicate with people likely to apply to a future caregiver pathway?

Annex B - 2018 consultation schedule and participating organizations

February 25

  • Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers’ and Caregivers’ Right (Vancouver – stakeholder-organized event)

March 6

  • Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada (Teleconference)

March 15

  • Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Worker Network (Toronto)
  • Various caregiver stakeholders (Toronto)

March 16

  • Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (Toronto)
  • Migrant Mothers Project including representatives from: (Toronto)
    • Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization
    • The Neighbourhood Organization
    • Kababayan Multicultural Centre
    • Ontario Council of Agencies Service Immigrants
    • ‎Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

March 17

  • Caregivers (Organized by the Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Worker Network) (Toronto)
  • Caregivers’ Action Centre (Toronto)

March 23

  • KAIROS, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (Ottawa)

April 16

  • Caregivers, academics and advocacy groups, including: (Edmonton)
    • Migrante Alberta
    • Alberta Workers’ Health Centre
  • Advocacy groups and lawyers, including: (Vancouver)
    • Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights
    • Mosaic
    • McCrea Immigration Law
    • Migrant Workers Centre
    • Migrante BC
    • Filipino Canadian Advocacy Network

April 17

  • Immigrant Services Society of BC (Vancouver)

May 14

  • Canadian Bar Association (Teleconference)

Individual and collective written submissions were also received from organizationsFootnote 1:

  • Alberta Caregivers Association
  • Alberta Public Interest Research Group
  • Association for the Rights of Household Workers
  • Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) 
  • Canadian Council for refugees
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • Care for Caregivers
  • Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization
  • Caregivers Action Centre
  • Centre international de solidarité ouvrière
  • Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights
  • Cooper Institute – PEI
  • Eto Tayong Caregivers
  • Faith Alliance to End Human Trafficking
  • Filipino Canadian Advocacy Network
  • GABRIELA Ontario
  • Income Security Advocacy Centre
  • Jewish Vocational Services Toronto
  • Kabisig Society of Fort Saskatchewan
  • Migrant Mothers Project
  • Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
  • Migrant Workers Centre
  • Migrant Workers Rights
  • Migrante Alberta
  • Migrante Ontario
  • New Alberta Workers
  • Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
  • PINAY Quebec
  • Showing Up For Racial Justice Toronto
  • The Canadian Bar Association
  • The Canadian Labour Congress
  • Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights
  • West Neighborhood House
  • Willowdale Community Legal Services
  • Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic
  • Working Women Community Centre

Annex C - Written submission guide

IRCC Caregiver Pilot Programs - Written submission guide

Background

Why are the caregiver pilot programs ending on November 29, 2019?

The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs programs were created through a clause in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that allows the Minister to create a pilot program that can last no more than five years and process no more than 2,750 applications per program per year. Because these pilot programs were created on November 30, 2014, they are scheduled to end on November 29, 2019.

What is IRCC doing to engage with stakeholders on future immigration options for caregivers?

The Government of Canada has committed to having an improved pathway to permanent residence for caregivers in place before the current pilots expire. The Government has been conducting an ongoing dialogue with caregivers. Views and ideas that you provide to us will be looked at as part of the review of caregiver immigration and in developing options for caregiver immigration after November 2019. We are also engaging with other key stakeholders in order to gather a wide range of views on future pathways to permanent residence for caregivers.

We recognize that we may not be able to meet with all interested groups, but we would like to make sure that everyone who has a view to share can do so. That is why IRCC is also asking for written submissions. These submissions will help inform the development of program options for caregivers before the pilots expire.

Discussion topics

IRCC wants to hear your perspectives on the current caregiver pilot programs and ideas on how to improve the pathway to permanent residence for caregivers. We understand that a caregiver’s journey begins before their initial arrival to Canada and includes all elements of their time in Canada before applying for permanent residence. However, for this discussion, we would like to focus on your views on the permanent residence program in particular.

Questions
  1. What parts of the current pilot programs do you hope will be kept?
  2. What parts of the current pilot programs do you hope will be changed and how?
  3. What do you think are the most important skills and qualifications for caregivers to be able to:
    1. do their jobs well in the immediate term; and
    2. do well in Canada in the long term?
  4. What would be the best way to communicate with people likely to apply to a future caregiver pathway?
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