January 29th, 2019

NDP Statement on the Liberal Government's Unjust and Morally Reprehensible Treatment of Caregivers

Jenny Kwan NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, made the following statement:

“Just imagine what life would be like if you had to be separated from your own children for more than 6.5 years while caring for the children of another family, in a different country. This is the story of thousands of caregivers in Canada.
Caregivers who arrive in Canada are forced to be separated from their family for 2 years before they can even apply for permanent resident status. No other economic stream of immigration forces family separation. In failing to honour the principle that if you are good enough to work, you are good enough to stay, the Liberal government is continuing to break up families. It is morally reprehensible and inhumane for caregivers to be treated this way. No one should be subject to the pain and suffering that caregivers have to endure.
Caregivers and all migrant workers in Canada deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They have been providing invaluable contributions to the Canadian economy and to Canadian families for decades. It is time that the Liberal government does what is right and grants caregivers permanent residence on arrival.
When the Liberal government quietly posted on the IRCC website in early February 2018 that the current Caregiver immigration streams – Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs – would be ending on November 29, 2019, the caregiver community was left in a hyper state of distress. This was particularly concerning for caregivers where, due to situations out of their control, would not be able to fulfill the 24 month work requirement in time. With no pathway to permanency as they had been promised, their dream of reuniting with their family members here in Canada vanished.
I raised the issue with the government in February and again in March. Together with migrant workers' rights groups and the caregiver community, we were able to pressure the government to undertake public consultations on the implementation of a new caregiver immigration stream. Through this consultation process, the message was clear: caregivers and advocates overwhelmingly called for the Liberal government to honour the principle that if you are good enough to work, you are good enough to stay by granting caregivers permanent resident status on arrival.
But today, nothing has changed and caregivers are still in the dark about their future. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) released a report on the caregiver program, making recommendations that include providing caregivers with permanent residence on arrival and ending the unjust practice of forced family separations. These recommendations, as well as all others in the report are whole heartedly supported by the NDP.
Almost a year after the Liberal Government tried to quietly eliminate the caregivers program and just months away from its deadline, caregivers still do not know if and how they will be able to stay in Canada; they don’t even know when their questions will be answered. This is simply wrong. And worse, we saw in the government’s announcement of the 2019-2021 Immigration Levels Plan that targets through the caregiver streams are being dramatically scaled back: from a target of 17,000 in 2018 to just 5,000 in 2020 and simply “to be determined” for 2021.
Caregivers who arrive in Canada contribute significantly to our country. They care for our children, our seniors, and/or our family members with disabilities. They conduct difficult and emotionally draining work that often allows for Canadian citizens to be more active in our economy. Therefore, the benefits that caregivers bring to Canada are felt at the household, neighbourhood, municipal, provincial, and federal level. It is a great injustice that we have forced caregivers, primarily racialized women, to pass more hurdles than other economic immigrants in order to make Canada their home, including forcing them to be separated from their families for years on end. When will this injustice end?
New Democrats will continue to push the Liberal government to abandon this unfair policy and to reunite caregivers who give so much for Canada’s economy to be united with their families.”