Many barriers still exist for Care Workers in new program

Published on November 06, 2019

A new caregiver program opened for applications on June 18, 2019. The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot includes big changes that we have been working together to win for many years. But there are problems in the new program that still make it hard for migrant Care Workers to come, work and stay in Canada.

How it works

  • Care workers will apply for permanent residence before coming to Canada. Work permits will be issued for Care Workers if they fulfill all the requirements. 
  • If Care Workers fulfill all the requirements for permanent residence, they will come to Canada on work permits. After working for 24 months, Care Workers will get Permanent Residence. 
  • Care Workers can bring their families with them when coming to Canada (except Quebec). Spouses will be given open work permits, while children will get a student visa.
  • Care Workers will get a work permit that allows them to change employers within the same occupation. The work permit is no longer employer-specific, which means Care Workers will be able to change employers as long as they continue to work as in-home child care or home support workers.

What needs to change?

Overall, this new program keeps the temporary work permit system in place. The pathway to permanent residency (PR) under the new program still requires 24 months of service within 3 years. And, this service needs to be in the same stream. Migrant care work is permanent work, and requires a permanent solution. Migrant care workers must be able to come to Canada with permanent resident status on arrival. 

The following changes are needed to the new program:

  • The requirement for a work permit and permanent residence is an English language test of CLB level 5. This benchmark is higher compared to the requirements under the past caregiver program. Many Care Workers who are already working in Canada have reported this language level is a barrier to accessing permanent residency. English language requirements should be kept at CLB Level 3.
  • The requirement for a work permit and permanent residence is 1 year Canadian post-secondary education or its equivalent. This will exclude many Care Workers, including those already working in Canada. Educational requirements should be kept at high school.
  • Accompanying children will only be issued study permits. This means that they will not be able to work, no matter what their age. All accompanying family members must be given study and work permits. 
  • Care worker families are broader than just spouses and children. They include grandparents, siblings and other relatives who are sometimes primary caregivers in the family instead of or in addition to spouses. Dependent children are of varying ages and there should be no age limit. The definition of family must be expanded and Care workers must have the ability to choose when their families join them.

What if I’m already in Canada?

For Care Workers already in Canada, you may choose to switch to the new program. If so, you will have to submit all the requirements for the new program before you are given a new occupation-specific open work permit. 

If you have been without status for 3 months or less, you may apply for a bridging work permit while you put in your application for the new program. 

You may also choose to continue working with your current work permit. In this case, if you need to find a new employer they will still be required to get an LMIA.

We have called for Care workers already in Canada to be granted occupational specific work permits immediately. The government has now clearly recognized that employer specific work permits create conditions of abuse, there is no reason for them to be continued for workers already here.

The full fact sheet about the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot is available here.

When the new program was announced, Care Worker groups from across the country responded. Read their June 15, 2019 response here.