The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

Take care of the foreign caregivers: Recommendations for the IRCC

July 11 2018 11 July 2018


Foreign caregivers and personal care workers face an onerous process to get into the country, let alone to bring their families, renew their work permits and get on the permanent resident track, says the CBA’s Immigration Law Section.

All of these areas and more should receive special consideration by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s current review of the Caregiver Pathways, which are due to expire in November 2019. The government has committed to establishing an improved pathway to permanent residence for caregivers.

The Section’s letter to the IRCC followed a conference call with the Department in May as part of its informal consultations with stakeholders. The Section made comments on five specific topics: labour market impact assessments, work permits, eligibility and application for permanent resident status, transition program, and enactment by regulation versus ministerial instruction.

The Section argues that the LMIA process is unnecessarily onerous for employers, particularly the mandatory advertising component, which it says is not required in a market where there is a shortage of qualified caregivers and a lack of competition among job-seekers.

Work permits should be sector-specific, so that foreign caregivers aren’t forced to remain with an abusive employer, and they should be issued for four years, not two: caregivers must accumulate 24 months of work experience before applying for permanent residency, and the current two-year permit often shrinks to 17 months while the worker waits for the work permit after receiving LMIA approval.

The Section recommends making open work permits available to spouses and dependent children who have finished high school, and says foreign caregivers and their immediate family members should be assessed for permanent resident status on arrival, before work permits are issued.–.

The Section calls for a transition program to cover caregiver work permit applications between the November 2017 announcement that the Caregiver Pathways program would end, and the November 2019 expiry date.

Finally, the Section said it supports “establishing caregiver-specific [work permit] requirements and introducing new caregiver pathways to [permanent residence] by regulatory enactment, and not by Ministerial Instruction.” Ministerial Instructions are “temporary and short-term by their legal nature,” while regulations “allow for longevity, clarity, stability and consistent application throughout Canada.”

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