The Trudeau Government hosted a press conference that addressed the current issue of the cancellation of the new permanent residency for caregivers and other temporary foreign workers. Present were representative from different migrant workers association, who were there to shed light on the uncertainty of the future of these workers. This was held at the BC Federation office on Joyce Street in Vancouver. This was the first of a series of events for this regressive issue.
According to the new rules, foreign caregivers will not be eligible for permanent residence if they have not accrued two years of employment by November 2019, according to a notice posted by the Immigration Department. The federal government is currently reviewing Canada’s two programs for foreign caregivers; one for those caring for children and the other for those caring for adults with high medical needs. Both programs were launched as five-year pilots, including a date that they expire. This means that nannies who come to Canada will have to complete 24 months of employment before that deadline in order to qualify for permanent residency. Those who come in after will not be eligible to apply and become Canadian citizens.
Present at the presscon were NDP MLA Mabel Elmore, a supporter of migrant worker causes, and a panel of speakers led by BC Federation of Labour Aaron Ekman, Lorna Serafico of the Committee for Domestic Workers & Caregivers Rights (CDWCR), Natalie Drolet, West Coast Domestic Workers Association, Yolly Tanciangco from Surrey, Byron Cruz of Sanctuary Health and Lalaine Zamora, a caregiver. All the speakers gave a short speech regarding the concerns of the current ruling, and answered questions from the members of the press who were present.
Natalie Drolet gave a brief history of the the caregiver program in Canada, and how it changed through the years. She emphasized that the current two path model being followed by the Liberal government was one that was instituted by the Harper government.
“Caregivers are not reassured that they will be given a pathway to PR,” Drolet said. “It has drastically restricted the number of caregivers who could apply for permanent residency in Canada.”
There are 30,000 foreign domestic workers in Canada, and about 85% of them are from the Philippines.
“Our belief is that if these workers are given permanent status in Canada, then they will be able to fulfill their jobs more than what they are already giving to their employers,” says Lorna Serafico of the CDWCR. “The organization will continue to fight for what we want and what we believe is just for these workers,” Serafico adds. Serafico has been advocating for caregiver rights ever since she came to Canada as a caregiver more than twenty years ago.
For their part, the BC Federation Of Labour promised that they will support the cause of these workers, and to help them find a way to address issues that affect them.
“We would like to support these organizations who do not have the funding and capacity that trade unions have here in Canada,” Ekman said. “They represent a group of people considered to be the most exploited in the labour force both in the province of BC and across Canada.”
He added that the federation strongly opposes the move of the Trudeau Liberal government that cuts off this pathway program for permanent residency for caregivers and foreign workers.
There will be several other press conferences and community meetings in Victoria on February 17, and a rally on Joyce Street Skytrain Station on Vancouver on February 24. There is also an ongoing petition drive. For more information please call Bootz at 604-441-0795.