Live-In Caregiver Program Needs Another Look

By James Metcalfe | December 9, 2012

James Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: There is one immigration program which appears to have become a ‘sacred cow,’ which the Minister of Immigration will apparently not touch: The Live-In Caregiver Program.

This program goes back 30 or more years, with few changes. Essentially, a resident of Canada can hire someone from outside of Canada to care for their children or elderly parents for minimum wage. The selection criteria boils down to the person’s ability to function in English or French, and some previous experience or training as a caregiver.

After working in Canada for two years, a caregiver can apply for Permanent Residence in Canada.  Though these are not high skilled jobs, participants are allowed to apply for PR status with minimal or no selection criteria. Other persons in both low skilled and high skilled positions do not enjoy this benefit.

With a few exceptions, low skilled, temporary workers pouring coffee in a fast food restaurant in Biggar, Saskatchewan, or working on a production line in Manitoba, do not enjoy the same benefits as care givers. These people are out of a job and out of Canada after two years, with no opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

Holders of work permits in skilled jobs must meet the selection criteria for skilled workers, including education and language testing. Caregivers, on the other hand, do not have to meet any specific criteria apart form working as a caregiver for a proscribed period of time.

I think it is time to examine the program on a equitable basis. We need to see if it continues to meet the objectives for which it was designed, and ensure that it is in line with other low-skilled programs.