Filipino Canadians fear end of immigrant dreams for nannies

Nicholas Keung’s article on the future of the Live-in Caregivers program:

Critics of the government’s approach, including some Conservative loyalists, warn that the growing Filipino Canadian vote could also be at stake in next year’s federal election if the government removes access to immigration from the live-in caregiver program LCP — 90 per cent of those participating are from the Philippines.

Family separation, lost skills the biggest challenges for immigrant nannies“This is a defining issue for the Filipino Canadian community,” said Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada, an international advocacy group for Filipino migrants.

“This is something very close to our hearts. It is worrying us because we feel this could be a smoke-screen for changes that are coming to the LCP program. Our concern is they are going to further restrict family reunification under the program.”

In recent meetings with the media to discuss Ottawa’s planned reforms to the controversial temporary foreign workers program, Employment Minister Jason Kenney criticized the LCP as being “out of control” and having “mutated” into a program of family reunification.

… Findings of the nanny study [by Ethel Tungonan of U of Alberta]

Researchers surveyed 631 Filipina caregivers about their jobs, recruitment, education, use of community supports and health, in the first national study of Canada’s live-in caregivers.

It found:

  • Caregivers’ average age on arrival was 34

  • 86% had university education or above.

  • Nearly 90% arriving in the past five years were recruited by employment agencies or directly hired by unrelated employers.

  • Two-thirds had children; about half experienced continued separation because their children had grown too old to be considered dependants for immigration.

Filipino Canadians fear end of immigrant dreams for nannies | Toronto Star.

Live-in caregivers may be next target of immigration reform

Further to the Douglas Todd overview (Live-in Caregiver Program faces nine questions), a sense that something is brewing. Expect the politics will be such that this will be post-election (in addition to the Filipino community, families that employ live-in caregivers are another constituency that would be affected):

Internal documents show the Canadian embassy in Manila has been alerting colleagues since at least 2007 that fraud was an “ongoing problem” in the program and the absence of mothers was proving disruptive to families left behind in the Philippines, “causing infidelity, etc.” Similar warnings were repeated in a 2011 report by Citizenship and Immigration, which noted that large percentages of nannies are brought in to work for relatives.

Live-in caregivers come to Canada through the temporary foreign worker program, but when Ottawa announced major changes last week, the caregiver component – as well as the rules for agricultural workers – was largely unchanged.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who has obtained extensive internal reports on the program via Access to Information, predicts Ottawa will announce this fall that it is phasing out the program.

“It’ll be sensitive because of October, 2015,” said Mr. Kurland, in reference to the impact it will have on Canada’s Filipino community ahead of next year’s federal election.“It is going to be politically controversial within that particular community,” he said, noting that Canada’s Filipino community tends to live in hotly contested swing ridings. Hong Kong and Manila are the top two Canadian missions in terms of approving live-in caregivers. Mr. Kurland notes that internal documents show many of the workers approved in Hong Kong are originally from the Philippines.

Live-in caregivers may be next target of immigration reform – The Globe and Mail.

Ottawa approved thousands of foreign worker requests at minimum wage, data reveals, Banff profile

More evidence of how the Temporary Foreign Workers program expanded without adequate oversight and analysis:

Using Access to Information legislation, the Alberta Federation of Labour obtained extensive statistics about the program and provided its findings to The Globe and Mail. The union sought and obtained information on the number of Labour Market Opinions approved by Employment and Social Development Canada that were for minimum wage jobs. An LMO is a screening process meant to ensure employers have exhausted efforts to hire Canadians before turning to the program.

According to the documents, at least 15,006 minimum-wage positions were approved between March 31, 2010, and Feb. 10, 2014. (Only the numbers for Ontario go back as far as 2010, which means the actual totals for the period would likely be higher.)

Ottawa approved thousands of foreign worker requests at minimum wage, data reveals – The Globe and Mail.

On a more positive note, good profile on how Temporary Foreign Workers have transitioned to permanent residency in Banff, and some of the integration challenges:

Dean Irvine, principal at Banff Elementary, says this can sometimes be a struggle with immigrants from countries like the Philippines, where the culture says you leave education to the educators. “My experience is that is pretty standard in Asian countries for parents to say to teachers: ‘You’re the experts, you take care of things, we don’t necessarily need to communicate.’ That’s been a challenge here, but I think it’s getting better.”

Then there is the adjustment to living alongside moose, elk, deer and sometimes bears. When one elementary-school teacher noticed children from the same Filipino family absent a few days in a row, Ms. Godfrey’s office called to inquire what was going on. It turned out the mother couldn’t walk her children to school and didn’t want them going alone for fear they might encounter some wild creature.

“It’s all about educating them,” Ms. Godfrey says.

Mr. Jalalon says his family has adapted fairly easily to life in Canada, and a decidedly different climate than that of the Philippines. He has been surprised at how welcoming the people here have been, which is much different than the treatment he received in Abu Dubai, where he worked as a paramedic for two years before coming here. There, he says, Filipinos were treated as second-class citizens. Not in Banff.

If anything, he says, he wishes the many Filipinos in Banff worked harder to integrate themselves into the community, to do things like volunteer. Instead, many keep to themselves or stick close to their fellow countrymen. The Filipino community in Banff is too insular for Mr. Jalalon’s liking.

“There was a bad typhoon back home in November of last year – Typhoon Haiyan,” Mr. Jalalon says. “And it was the people of Banff that led the fundraising to help out, not the Filipinos here. I felt quite ashamed by that.”

Many here are concerned about the chill the federal government has put on the temporary foreign worker program. It is a reaction to stories suggesting some businesses are discriminating against non-immigrant Canadians because they don’t believe they have a comparable work ethic to employees they’re bringing in from overseas. But Darren Reeder, executive director of the Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association, says the two resort communities desperately need the TFW to compensate for the loss in workers to higher-paying resource jobs elsewhere in the province.

Mr. Reeder says the fact many of these foreign workers are converting to full-time residents has been a huge benefit to towns like Banff. “It’s been wonderful to see [foreigners] become immersed in the community,” he says. “But we still need assistance in better meeting the needs of our foreign national population.” Despite challenges around housing and other issues, he says, “the fact so many want to become permanent residents speaks to community spirit and the lifestyle we offer. They’re saying: ‘It’s a price worth paying.’”

 Banff’s changing labour landscape 

Understanding Intergenerational Social Mobility: Filipino Youth in Canada » Institute for Research on Public Policy

Good study on some of the challenges facing the Filipino Canadian community, and the anomaly that subsequent generations have poorer educational outcomes than their parents.

Given that Filipinos are one of Canada’s largest source of immigrants, the Government’s assiduous courting of the Filipino community in Canada, and that some of the points are applicable to other communities, worth reading. Most of the recommendations are reasonable and may also apply to other groups of new Canadians that are struggling.

Unlikely and unfortunate, however, that the Conservative government will reinstate the long-form census, despite the need for better information for both current and longer-term issues:

Kelly makes a number of recommendations, some of which also apply to other immigrant–background communities: intensify efforts to improve immigrants’ access to professions and credential recognition; recognize the importance of extended families in the success of the next generation; lessen precarity for those in the Live-in Caregiver Program by considering giving workers permanent residence upon arrival; and support role-modelling and mentoring, particularly to improve educational achievement among males. Finally, the author underlines the need to collect large-scale data by, among other things, reinstating the compulsory long-form census to accurately track intergenerational outcomes.

Understanding Intergenerational Social Mobility: Filipino Youth in Canada » Institute for Research on Public Policy.