Live-in Caregiver Program faces nine questions | Vancouver Sun

Interesting piece by Douglas Todd on the live-in caregivers program. I was not aware of the high percentage of live-in caregivers working for members of their own families. Most of the experts cited are critical of the program rather than a more balanced selection, but this does not necessarily invalidate their concerns:

The nine debates:

1. How much does Canada need foreign caregivers who work for their own families?

Since 40 to 70 per cent of Filipino caregivers live with their own sponsoring families in Canada, Kurland says it makes it hard to tell whether a family “is pulling a fast one” and the foreign domestic worker is properly trained or “performing their duties.” …

2. Is the LCP a back-door family reunification program?

Statistics Canada data shows in any given year Canada grants permanent residency to almost as many dependents of live-in caregivers as to the domestic workers themselves. The backlog for live-in caregivers and dependents seeking permanent residency is three years and contains more than 25,000 people, mostly Filipinos. Still, in 2011 Canada gave permanent residency to more than 11,000 caregivers and their children or spouses; in 2012 the figure was 9,000.

3. Poor school and workplace performances

Numerous studies show the offspring of Filipino immigrants, especially boys, do not perform well in schools across Canada. UBC professor May Farrales has focused on the achievement gap among Filipino students in Vancouver, where they drop out of school more and have lower averages….

4. Filipino-Canadians rely more on taxpayers support

Filipinos earn less than Canadians in general, according to a York University study, which says the LCP’s “two-step” approach to immigration has “led to poor economic outcomes for those entering through the program, as well as long periods of separation from family.” Those who come to Canada in conjunction with the LCP, says the study, end up on average receiving more taxpayer support than other Canadians.

While some believe the family separation dilemma could be eased by giving live-in caregivers and their dependents permanent residency upon arrival in Canada, Kurland says that’s not feasible. It would remove live-in helpers incentive to complete even their two-year stint.

5. Does the LCP subsidize affluent families?

The media have run stories about well-off Canadian couples engaging in “nanny poaching” because of reportedly strong competition for live-in caregivers. But, if many caregivers work for their own families and virtually all leave such live-in duties as soon as they can, how intense can demand be?

Caregivers “from less developed countries are prepared to work long hours for low wages in order to obtain permanent residency,” says Martin Collacott, a former ambassador to Asia who is spokesman for the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform. “In effect, the relatively small number of affluent Canadians who can afford to bring in live-in caregivers from overseas are being underwritten by taxpayers.”

6. Other countries more attractive to domestic workers, except for one thing

Most Filipino live-in caregivers would avoid Canada and choose to work in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia or Japan or if it weren’t for the offer of citizenship, say Serafico and Diesta….

7. Are live-in caregivers circumventing immigration screening?

Most immigrants to Canada are admitted based on job skills or potential to invest. But live-in caregivers are babysitters, nannies and seniors helpers, which Immigration Canada ranks as low-skill. They are not eligible to get into Canada through regular immigration categories.

“Is the LCP really meeting an ongoing labour-market need or simply functioning as a means of immigration to Canada by individuals who wouldn’t otherwise qualify?” asks Collacott, who frequently appears before immigration subcommittees in Ottawa….

8. How does the LCP affect the Philippines?

Filipinos who work abroad send home more than $23 billion a year in remittances. “It’s keeping the whole country afloat, even with all its corruption,” says UBC’s Laquian, who arrived in Vancouver in the 1960s when there were fewer than 1,000 Filipinos in Canada.

While Laquian and his wife, Eleanor, actively support the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights, he worries about the downside of so many industrious people leaving behind their families and the Philippines….

9. Would an au pair program be more effective?

With so many questions about Canada’s offer of citizenship to foreign live-in-caregivers, Kurland thinks highly of instituting an alternative “au pair program.”

An au pair program would offer temporary work to foreign nationals, but lead to better, more regulated working conditions that would lure caregivers from a wider range of countries, including, he says, France, Spain and Ireland….

Live-in Caregiver Program faces nine questions | Vancouver Sun.

More on Temporary Foreign Workers

Some of the more interesting commentary on the TFW program from both the right and left following Minister Kenney’s suspension of the program for the fast food sector pending review (I suspect officials and staffers are scrambling). McDonald’s has also suspended the program given the damage to its brand and has its own internal review.

Starting with Martin Collacott:

One solution that has been suggested to reduce their vulnerability is to provide them with a clear path to permanent residency, so they do not have to worry about losing their status in this country. This, however, is not a solution that is in the interests of Canadians. Allowing low-skilled workers to remain here on a permanent basis is what immigration experts have described as “importing poverty” — because these workers can then bring in family members who will consume far more in public services than they pay in taxes. They would be likely to form a new underclass of impoverished Canadians.

Yet another factor that has to be considered in connection with the TFW program is that many who come here would like to stay permanently because of the much higher wages available in Canada than in their home countries. There is a distinct possibility, therefore, that many will choose to stay here illegally when their contracts expire — which would create another series of problems for Canada.

Canadians are well aware that there are already large numbers of people in the country who are unemployed and prepared to work for reasonable wages. These include unemployed youth, aboriginals, recent immigrants and people laid off from the manufacturing industry. Public opinion is, therefore, increasingly in favour of a drastic reduction in the temporary foreign worker program. The sooner the government takes action on this, the better.

Martin Collacott: Time to end Canada’s temporary foreign worker program | National Post.

The more left-wing approach, by Rick Salutin of the Star:

In an especially misanthropic Globe column, Margaret Wente rejects that model because “it amounts to importing poverty.” Sorry but that’s what built Canada. “We” imported poverty and gave it a chance to mutate. What does she think the poor are? They’re human, for starters. They have dreams and motivation — with a little encouragement. And energy, often far beyond the rest of us. Without it, many would never have survived.

She says, “Canada’s immigration policy is the most successful in the world because we select people with a lot of skills and education — not ditchdiggers and hotel maids.” But that’s exactly who we brought in: ditchdiggers and hotel maids. Their kids, with the benefits of decent schools, are now teachers, artists, bankers, hockey players. She’s ticked about letting Filipina nannies apply for citizenship because they don’t “move up the income ladder.” Well, uptitle nanny to early childhood educator, improve the pay, include benefits and see what follows. And by the way, who says ditchdiggers and nannies aren’t skilled? You try it.

And what’s preventing people like nannies from doing better? Temporary foreign workers, that’s who. They have no stake in the country and are insecure, so they work for less. If they were immigrants and not TFWs, they wouldn’t do that. This policy isn’t a law of nature that you can’t repeal, or an innate instinct among “true” Canadians. Come to think of it, that’s what I meant to write about before I got exasperated by Wente’s column.

Temporary foreign workers a global phenomenon: Salutin

Tim Harper focuses on the International Experience Canada program, one that encourages Canadian youth to work abroad:

Less than a decade ago, 21,656 Canadian youth travelled abroad while 30,467 foreign youth worked here. Today, fewer than 18,000 Canadians are working abroad, but there are more than 58,000 foreign workers here.
Cape Breton Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner told the Commons this week that, under the program, there were 753 Polish workers in this country and four Canadians in Poland. There are more than 300 Croatian workers here, but there are two Canadians working in Croatia.

For Conservatives, cheap foreign labour trumps Canadian youth: Tim Harper

Doug Saunders similarly argues for more immigrants, less temporary workers:

But, as an important new study of temporary-worker caregivers by the Institute for Research on Public Policy shows, its temporary nature has also created a huge social and economic problem. Between this and the other temporary programs, there are now hundreds of thousands of people who live full-time in Canada and have deepening ties here, but are unable to form any legal connection to our country’s economy or society.

In at least one respect, the caregivers are better off than the 65,000 skilled, unskilled and agricultural workers who come in “temporarily” each year (and now number more than 300,000): Since 2010, the nannies have been allowed to apply for permanent residence after completing 24 months of work over a period of up to four years.

That, at a minimum, needs to be done for all temporary workers. If there is one lesson from the world’s half-century experience with “guest” immigration, it is that nothing is worse for a country than having a large number of unaccompanied individuals living in its borders with no ability to form family, educational or economic ties – and thus to invest in their communities and help build their new country. Whereas permanent immigrants are a net gain, temporary ones do nothing for our development and often harm their lives.

Foreign workers won’t be temporary if we make them permanent

Tories’ new budget to close program giving investors path to citizenship – The Globe and Mail

Nice to see some evidence-based policy in killing this program. Always had an offensive “buying citizenship for investing in strip malls” aura to it (Martin Collacott: The citizenship fire sale – National Post), as well as “citizens of convenience”:

Sources say the government believes the immigrant investor class pays significantly less in taxes over the decades than other economic immigrants, have less proficiency in English or French and are less likely actually to reside in Canada.

A source said the government is acting based on data that show that, 20 years after arriving in Canada, an immigrant investor has paid about $200,000 less in taxes than a newcomer who came in under the federal skilled worker program, and almost $100,000 less than one who was a live-in caregiver.

In the past 28 years, more than 130,000 people have come to Canada under the investor program, including applicants and their families.

The Conservatives feel newer economic-immigrant programs are doing a better job of attracting newcomers who will integrate well into Canadian society and build the economic base.

These include the Canadian Experience Class, which fast-tracks residency for temporary foreign workers already in Canada and non-Canadians who have graduated from universities and colleges here.

Tories’ new budget to close program giving investors path to citizenship – The Globe and Mail.

News Release — What people are saying about Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

Interesting mix of endorsements from the expected (e.g., Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, Foundation for Defence of Democracies, True Patriot Love, Central Mennonite Committee in case of Lost Canadians) to the less so (individual tweets). And finding likely the one immigration lawyer, Chantal Desloges, in favour is quite a coup.

Plays against the backdrop of the Maytree survey posted earlier.

News Release — What people are saying about Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

‘ Family Class’ immigration reforms a good first step but taxpayers still face significant costs from sponsorship of parents and grandparents

Most recent paper by Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute on family class immigration and in particular, the Parent and Grandparent family class reforms, advocating further tightening and greater cost recovery. As always, easier for these studies to quantify costs to governments (OAS, healthcare etc) and harder to quantify benefits (e.g., value of childcare and other family-related services), and a costs-benefits comparison with the Live-In Caregiver program would be interesting.

But given the current economic focus of our immigration program, bringing in older family members has fewer economic benefits than younger ones, and the paper argues for a greater financial contribution to cover the additional costs to governments.

Worth reading – haven’t seen much comment on this paper yet.

‘ Family Class’ immigration reforms a good first step but taxpayers still face significant costs from sponsorship of parents and grandparents | Fraser Institute.

Slow the flow of immigrants into Canada

Martin Collacott on immigrant selection and quantity. Collacott has a point in that there never has been, to my knowledge, an analysis of what should be the appropriate level of immigration to Canada; the government just sticks with the current levels.

The temptation to select immigrants on the basis of their ability to integrate, once one gets beyond the basics of language and professional competencies, becomes subjective all too quickly, and subject to potential abuse, as a history of previous immigration restrictions illustrates.

Guest column: Slow the flow of immigrants into Canada