Changes to the Canadian Live-in Caregiver Program

By Al Pace | November 4, 2014

Andy Semotiuk

US and Canadian Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: This piece in the Globe and Mail outlines the Canadian government’s new plans for immigration in general, and the live-in caregiver program in particular:

The Conservative government plans to increase immigration levels significantly as it heads into an election year in 2015.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said on Friday that Canada aims to welcome as many as 285,000 new permanent residents next year, which is the highest planned total “in recent history,” according to the Minister…

Mr. Alexander also announced changes to the live-in caregiver program, which brings about 5,000 people to the country every year. The government will drop the requirement that nannies live with their employers during their first years in Canada. Mr. Alexander said he had met with people who said the live-in situation opened them up to abuse. They described their living conditions as “modern day slavery,” he said.

“We are putting an end to that. These reforms show the valuable role caregivers play in all our lives.”

The government says it will also speed the processing of permanent residency applications from the live-in caregiver stream. The backlog was so large it could take as long as 10 years for someone to bring over relatives, a situation that put a strain on many families, particularly mothers who had left children at home.

I have mixed feeling about these developments. The new number of immigrants is in line with the historic absorptive capacity of Canada to new migrants, so I have no qualms with that. The changes to the caregiver program, however, are significant.​
The existing program was the jewel of Canada’s immigration programs. It was the only one in which an average immigrant, without special skills, could still come to Canada, so long as they met the important need of a sponsoring family to look after their children. What is more, there was – at least historically – a relaxed English or French language requirement with this program. That made it possible for families with children that did not speak English or French to recruit caregivers that spoke their native language, and thus passed on valuable cultural values to children.
With the government’s focus on economic immigration, the positive cultural and heritage aspects of the live-in caregiver program appear to be lost. Those families who are not English or French speaking will lose out in the process. ​In addition, the program’s key benefit of keeping Canada open to at least some ordinary, hardworking immigrants is diminished.


Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with immigration law firm Pace Immigration. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.