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New policy in Canada fast-tracks processing of work permits for caregivers

Canada has shortened the procedures needed for foreign caregivers to obtain permanent resident status and has enacted several measures to protect the caregivers from abusive employers.
 
Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said this was the Canadian government’s response to reports of abuse to foreign caregivers by their employers.
 
He said it is “frustrating” that many live-in caregivers have to stay in their employer’s home even though they have already completed their work obligations because they are waiting for their application for permanent residence to be reviewed. He said in several cases, this set-up had resulted to maltreatment of workers.
 
“This is understandably frustrating,” Kenney said. “That's why we have started issuing open work permits to live-in caregivers as soon as they have completed their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence.”
 
Under the new procedure, a foreign caregiver can obtain permanent resident status in 18 months or less. They can apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized.
 
The need for second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence has likewise been eliminated in the new guidelines. Also, a standardized employment contract has been adopted so that both the employer and the caregiver agree to the salary, hours of work, vacation time, overtime, holidays, sick leave, and the terms of termination and resignation.
 
The new policy also defines the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver's travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance, and third-party representative fees. It also provides for emergency processing of work permits and employer authorizations to hire live-in caregivers who have been abused and need to leave their employment immediately while a dedicated phone service for live-in caregivers has been set up.
 
To assess the legitimacy of a job offer, Canadian authorities would verify if caregivers would be residing in a private residence and providing child care, senior home support care or care of a disabled person in that household without supervision, as well as whether the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate.
 
For employers who have failed to live up to the terms of past job contracts, they will be banned from hiring foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, for two years. 
 
Philippine Ambassador to Canada Leslie Gatan said the revised labor policies for caregivers demonstrates “the continued trust and confidence of the Canadian society on the skills and dedication to work of Filipinos in general.”
 
Government estimates Filipino caregivers in Canada to be more than 100,000, some of them have complained of labor abuse from their employers ranging from non-payment of salaries to physical maltreatment.
 
Kenney said the Canadian government has taken action to protect live-in caregivers from exploitation with regulatory improvements implemented under its Live-in Caregiver Program in 2010 and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2011. — KBK, GMA News

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