VANCOUVER, B.C. – Local groups supporting caregivers in Canada are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end "Project Guardian," a Canada Border Services Agency project that targets foreign caregivers through raids across British Columbia and the Yukon region.
"Project Guardian" was meant to protect Canadian families from caregivers who leave them without finishing contracts by investigating alleged violations in the caregiver program.
But local groups say the random raids unfairly target caregivers already being abused by employers.
In a data obtained by the West Coast Domestic Workers Association (WCDWA), a total of 38 investigations were conducted by the Canadian Border Services Agency from January 2014 to October last year.
Eleven of these cases sought help from the WCDWA, all of them Filipinos.
"In all of those cases, every single one of them, the caregivers left the employers because they were subject to abuse. They were not being paid properly for overtime. They were subject to verbal abuse, not allowed to leave the home, passports were being held by their employers, there were also cases of sexual harassment. These caregivers left abusive employers," said Natalie Drolet, executive director of the WCDWA.
Most caregivers have been deported as they were found working for new employers without the proper papers.
Migrante BC added that Filipinos should be alarmed with "Project Guardian" as it seems to target discrimination against a specific group of Filipino women.
"Is Project Guardian directly targeting the Filipino community thru the Filipino women in the program? Because it's a pilot, we hope it doesn't expand, we call for a stop to the Project Guardian," said Erie Maestro, Migrante BC coordinator.
While the federal government has yet to react to their call, both the WCDWA and Migrante BC hope that making noise will at least make authorities more aware there is growing opposition to the program.
"It's particularly egregious on the part of the CBSA to be targeting caregivers because these are some of the most vulnerable workers that we have in Canada. They are largely women of color from the Philippines working for minimum wage who have very precarious immigration status according to the structure of the live-in caregiver program," said Drolet.
Project Guardian is currently in place in BC and the Yukon region only.
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