Children Pay The Price
Can you guess which country sends Canada the greatest number of foreign workers?
Here’s a hint. It’s not the U.S. or Mexico, despite the opportunities for cross-border employment provided by the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The correct answer, according to a recent survey, is the Philippines. In 2009 there were 51,325 Filipinos working in Canada and a good number of them entered the country under the Live-in Caregiver class.
The Live-in Caregiver program is a quid pro quo proposition. The deal is they come, they toil at the jobs that Canadians don’t want and they eventually are granted permanent residency, which then leads to citizenship. The ‘they’ are for the most part women and by and large nationals of the Philippines.
Part of the bargain, unfortunately for the caregivers, is that they leave their own families behind to work in Canada and therein lies the problem. While they are here tending to the needs of the children and parents of privileged Canadians, their kids “back home” are paying a price. We know this because when these young people finally arrive in Canada they, as a group, have a tougher time making their way than the children of other Canadian immigrants. It shouldn’t be that way. As a general rule, the children of Canadian immigrants attain a higher level of education than their parents – this should come as no surprise. However, among the more established Filipino community in Toronto fewer children have university degrees than their parents. It’s hard to imagine that extended family dislocation did not play an important role in these results and it doesn’t have to be this way.
A Live-in caregiver in Canada must first complete two years of work (within 36 months) before becoming eligible to submit an application for permanent residence. The applicant’s spouse and/or children may be included in the application. It’s a lengthy process that can easily add a couple of years to the time the family remains apart. Government statistics tell us that more than 90% of those who enter Canada as live-in-caregivers ultimately apply for permanent residence and 98% are successful. So why make the applicant complete the two years of caregiver work before starting the paperwork that will unite the family? Given these numbers, surely the immigration process can be running on a parallel track while the caregiver fulfills her part of the bargain in Canada. It would be the right thing to do.