A group of Filipino caregivers in Canada has called on registered Filipino-Canadian voters there to choose Canada's next leaders wisely, noting that new regulations in the caregiver program implemented by the current administration had made them more vulnerable to exploitation.
The call came a month before the Canadian federal election on October 19, 2015, where incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party will try to maintain the majority of their seats.
A report on Rabble said Caregiver Action Centre's (CAC) Karina Francisco, in a press conference on August 30, slammed Harper and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander for "pretending to be the friends of immigrants" and for "repeatedly lying" to caregivers.
Francisco said the changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program, which started in November last year, have "worsened" conditions for immigrants as it "increased processing times, and have resulted in a 90 per cent rejection rate for new caregiver applications".
CAC member Johnna Uchi told the Toronto Star that the changes implemented by the Conservative government made it difficult for caregivers to receive a positive Labour Market impact Assessment (LMIA), a certificate needed to justify their employment.
“There has been no improvement. Our members can’t get the LMIA. If they leave an abusive employer, they will be punished because they need the LMIA to work,” she said.
“Voters in the Filipino community, and all voters, must vote wisely. Don’t just think of what is happening now to the program, but think of what’s going to happen to the community in the long run," she added.
A Rabble report said only 10 percent of all LMIA applications for caregivers were accepted between January and March of 2015.
Because of the higher rejection rates, caregivers are, as Uchi speculated, more reluctant to leave abusive employers due to the 3,900 work-hour requirement for caregivers to apply for permanent residence.
Teta Bayan of the CAC said, "Canada has a great need for caregivers for the elderly, for children, for people with disabilities and with high medical needs. It is through this program that Canadians can [meet] their caregiving needs. Therefore, caregivers should be given security of status." —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News