Friday, November 16, 2012

Canada’s dream daycare program

One of the recurring program changes that Canada Immigration considered between 2008 and July 1, 2012 was the proposal to impose a four-year limit on temporary foreign work in Canada and a four-year waiting period to return to Canada. This was supposed to include all temporary foreign workers, without exception.
On April 1, 2011, Canada Immigration implemented this program but Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had a change of heart and exempted the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) from the four-year limit on temporary work visas, thus continuing the right of foreign domestic workers to apply for permanent residence after completing two-years of live-in service. Maybe the thousands of Filipino caregivers under the LCP have worked their magic charm on Mr. Kenney after they have hailed him as their hero and the “king of Canada’s multiculturalism.”
Filipino nanny takes care of employer's child. Photo courtesy of Kia, Marin & Liam.
Click to view  "Nanny Documentary 1."
But the exemption covers only those caregivers who have already completed their work contracts and have submitted their applications for permanent residence when the new rules took effect in 2011. We just have to wait and see if the final Rules and Regulations in January 2013 will still contain this important exemption for workers under the LCP.
There is reason to worry because this has been done before by the Canadian government. Before the Foreign Domestic Movement in 1981 and the LCP in 1992 were adopted, foreign domestic workers, particularly those from Europe and those of English ancestry, were given the right to enter and stay. Prior to the 1970s, domestics from Britain were granted permanent residence after providing live-in services for six months. These domestics were given this right with the eye toward their future roles as wives and mothers. But this right was not given to Caribbean women who were allowed to enter Canada under short-term work permits. 

The LCP and the previous Foreign Domestic Movement program were seen by Third World domestic workers as the necessary purgatory to obtain permanent residence. But this may change if the path to permanent residence will be removed from the program by Canada Immigration in 2013.
Right now, nanny placement agencies in Canada are looking for various alternatives in case the LCP becomes a four-year temporary contract without giving workers hired under the LCP to apply for permanent residence after two years. The only reason why the LCP has become so popular, especially among Filipino women, is because these workers look at their mandatory two-year live-in requirement as a transition to a better future. These workers are unlikely to complain no matter how exploitative their work and living situations are. Even if their work amounts to being underemployed and de-skilled, it is still better than remaining in the Philippines with no prospect of a better future. Judging from the success of their predecessors, they all know they can also do well in the open job market after becoming permanent residents.
An alternative being considered by nanny placement agencies is the hiring of au pairs from Europe for 12 months under the existing working holiday visas. These visas are faster to process and since holiday visa workers do not stay permanently after one year, this option for Canadian families is of low cost to the government.
Daycare has always been a critical problem for Canada’s young families, where many Canadian women are torn between the choice of keeping their professional careers and putting them on hold to look after their young children. The cost of daycare has also increased sharply in the last 20 years, driving spouses to consider alternative working hours so that one parent is left to provide care to the children while the other works. This is especially true for parents who prefer home-based child care rather than the child care centre. It is estimated that the national average for child care in Canada is more than $4,500 a year, and 7.8 percent of a family’s budget is directed to child care.
Click link to view "The
Canadian National Child Care Policy."
There has been a move toward regulated child care in all provinces, away from informal family arrangements. In Quebec, which subsidizes daycare heavily, 72 percent of children attend regulated centres. In the rest of Canada, the rate is 40 percent. It is also estimated that more than 165,000 regulated spots are needed to meet the demand for space.
In Quebec, its newly-elected premier Pauline Marois has promised low-cost day care for all families, a project which she launched 15 years ago when she was education minister in 1997. The heavily government subsidized $7-a-day daycare system has been plagued by a shortage of available spaces and many families have been on the waiting list for so long. Marois promises to create 28,000 new spaces, a project which will take four years and cost the province $261 million more per year. But this project, according to Marois, will eventually leave the province with a spot for every child.
A recent study showed that the Quebec daycare system works and it provides economic benefits to families and has helped single parents to enter the workforce. The study also concluded that the province’s daycare program added 1.7 per cent to Quebec’s GDP in 2008 and brought back $1.50 in tax revenue for the federal and provincial governments, combined, for every $1 spent by Quebec. In Ottawa, the last time the federal government toyed with the idea of creating a national daycare system based on the Quebec plan was during the Liberal government under Paul Martin.
At present, Canada provides cash transfers and tax exemptions for child care services that benefit disproportionately the wealthiest Canadians, but offer very little support to middle-class families. Outside Quebec, parents are paying between $1,000 to $2,000 a month for each child care space, an enormous fraction of a middle class family’s income.
The concept of a national childcare program has been proposed by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1970. Finding that reliable child care is fundamental to women’s equality in employment, the Commission recommended that “the federal government immediately take steps to enter into agreements with provinces leading to adoption of a national Daycare Act.” The Vanier Institute of the Family also noted that “most women and men expect to have jobs and careers. With the high cost of living, most families require two earners to achieve an average standard of living.”
Nothing has been accomplished at the federal level and the provinces—with the exception of Quebec—in successfully implementing an effective and low-cost daycare program.

By virtue of default by the federal and provincial levels of government, the Live-in Caregiver Program has become Canada’s substitute daycare program: home-based daycare plus the added benefit of a caregiver who looks after housekeeping, cooking and other menial chores that Canadian mothers would prefer not to do by themselves. It’s a dream daycare program: low-cost to the government, and an affordable and comfortable luxury to families who can afford to hire a live-in caregiver.
However, the mandatory live-in residence requirement for LCP workers undermines the LCP workers’ personal freedoms and increases their vulnerability to every form of abuse and exploitation. Domestic workers have to endure two years of indentured service just to have a shot at the prize of landed or permanent resident status.
Whether live-in caregivers keep their chances of gaining permanent residence after two years of work, the obvious winner in this type of arrangement is the Canadian government. Foreign domestic workers bear the heaviest of burden among all new immigrants—that of modern-day slavery only to get a crack at that much-vaunted Canadian life in the future, while others get instant landed status and the opportunity to pursue the careers they’ve prepared for.


  1. Abuse, exploitation, isolation and mental stress - so many such stories I hear firsthand from my conversational English class of mostly live-in caregivers. At the same time they fear the transition from live-in to the labor market because of economic reasons (food, housing expenses now become their responsibility) and sense of inferiority, skills-wise. The sense of inferiority stems from years of doing menial chores, such that even nursing/education/midwife/accountancy graduates feel they can't compete in the open market. Most of them fear that they won't even be able to sponsor their families because they couldn't raise the show money that will allow them to. There's this heavy cloud of hopelessness in class every time - but you know they try and continue to hope, attending english and computer classes to better themselves.

  2. Hi, just a moment back I was searching for the information on the Childcare Seven Hillsand now I am here. So much information, really well executed blog. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks

  3. Hi there, the writer has this all wrong. Canadian families are starting to hire Au pairs because the Conservative party spearheaded by Jason Kenney is doing everything and anything to keep Filipino Live in caregivers out of Canada under the pretense to " protect vulnerable live in caregivers " .
    The improvement to the Live in caregiver program is really a
    " backdoor elimination" of the program. The writer should do a story about the Conservative and their agenda when it comes to the Live in caregiver program . Tagalog is the fastest growing language in Canada largely due to the Live in caregiver program but Jason Kenney is not a friend of the Filipino community despite what he says. Hopefully the Filipino community all across Canada will see right through the very anti Filipino Conservatives.

  4. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks for sharing this with others..childcare seven hills

  5. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with your opinion. Thanks!childcare seven hills