First, it was the 280,000 Federal Skilled Worker applicants, most of them from Africa and Asia, whose files were terminated. Next, it was the 50,000 plus Federal Investor applicants, most of them from China, whose files were terminated. It appears that live-in caregivers are next in line.
Let’s be very clear. When you denigrate Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), you attack Canada’s Filipino community. The LCP has been around for 22 years and 90% of primary applicants are women from the Philippines. Most of the 625,000 Filipinos now in Canada can trace their arrival back to the LCP. You cannot separate the LCP from Canada’s Filipino community.
Recently, there has been a spate of national newspaper articles that have called into question both the value of the LCP and the bona fides of the Canadian Filipino community. The impetus for this negativity does not emanate from ordinary Canadians but rather from the Canadian government in the form of statements by cabinet ministers and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) reports.
Government-sourced information of a disparaging nature has been pushed out to the public-at-large at a fast and furious pace. The first news story I came across claimed that a CIC internal report showed that 40% of all LCP job offers were being made by Canadian Filipinos to their extended family members overseas. The take-away from this article is that the LCP is less about genuine Canadian employment and more about family re-unification. A few days later, another news story appeared, which raised the ante by claiming that up to 70% of LCP applicants were extended family members of their supposed Canadian employers. The final word on this matter came from Jason Kenney, current Employment Minister and former Immigration Minister. Minister Kenney let Canadians know about the time he went to Manila a few years back to give a seminar on nannies’ rights. According to the Minister, each and every one of the 70 caregivers in attendance was going to work for a relative in Canada. To boot, all they wanted to know about was the penalty they would be subjected to for working outside the employer’s home illegally. Really, Mr. Kenney? You want us to believe that caregivers would ask that question to the Immigration Minister before departing to Canada?
As if this propaganda weren’t enough to poison the minds of Canadians, we have also recently been informed that according to internal documents, fraud is an ongoing problem in the LCP and that the absence of mothers was causing infidelity in the Philippines. I am not making this up.
The problem with this unfavorable publicity is that it just doesn’t fit with Canadians’ perception of the Canadian Filipino community. The fact of the matter is that I have never met anyone in Canada, who had a bad word to say about Filipinos in our country, especially caregivers.
Live-in Caregivers are dedicated, hard-working individuals. They not only serve as nannies but also look after the elderly and disabled among us. The type of work they do would never be done by Canadian workers, no matter what the wage offered. We may call their work low-skilled but that is only because of the meager wages they earn. Just ask any Canadian whose elderly parent is being taken care of by a compassionate live-in caregiver if the work being done is low-skilled.
The main reason Filipino women caregivers are willing to work long hours for low pay in Canada is to gain Canadian Citizenship and sponsor loved ones to immigrate to Canada. That is the quid pro quo and it was never a problem until the government chose to make it one.
So what is behind the negativism and the not so veiled threat to do away with the LCP? I am not sure, but it is interesting that a suggestion being floated is that we ought to replace the LCP with an au pair program. This would allow mainly young European women to enter Canada temporarily and join the thousands of other Europeans already here under the International Experience Class (IEC).
Is the real issue then about identity?