By Marieton Pacheco, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Posted at 06/04/2015 10:31 AM | Updated as of 06/04/2015 10:33 AM
VANCOUVER – A Filipina caregiver added her voice to the increasing number of nannies worried about their status in Canada following changes to the live-in caregiver program last year.
Hessed Torres has been in Canada for less than a year. But she is worried about being forced to return to the Philippines already.
A registered nurse in the Philippines, she left an only daughter and entered Canada as a nanny last September.
But because she did not get overtime pay for her long hours at work, she decided to quit.
Torres has found another employer but she encountered another problem. The recent changes to the live-in caregiver program have made it almost impossible for her to continue working.
“Imbes na mapabilis pag process ng LMIA (Labor Market Impact Assessment)–papel na kailangan namin para makapag-trabaho–hinabaan nila proseso nito. Imbes na two months, ngayon six months. Tapos hindi pa guarantee na makakapag-trabaho ka. How do I move? How do I go about? Di naman ako pwde magtrabaho ng basta-basta, walang papel, otherwise made-deport ako,” Torres said.
Prospective employers share the same woes. Corey Sietz needed a caregiver for his aging parents since last year.
But with the long wait, plus more expensive fees and higher income requirements, Sietz is no longer qualified to hire a nanny.
“It’s frustrating. It’s hard to deal with. You meet the requirements but they keep on changing things trying to make it so you don’t qualify cause. It’s obvious they don’t want you to hire somebody,” Sietz said.
Government figures show only 10 percent of applications for LMIAs were approved from December to April this year.
LMIAs are required to apply for a work permit in Canada. They’re also employer specific and cannot be transferred.
The Westcoast Domestic Workers Association said an increasing number of caregivers have reached out to them for help.
“We see more and more caregivers coming to our office for help because their employers are not able to obtain the LMIA. Often, caregivers, they’re current work permit will expire and they become out of status. So if they’re not able to find an employer, they will have to leave Canada and not be able to complete the program,” said Natalie Drolet of Westcoast Domestic Workers Association.
Opposition lawmakers are now consulting with caregivers across the country on possible changes to the caregiver program.