Pinoys worried as Canada eyes changes in caregiver program

By Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Jul 11 2014 09:49 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2014 05:49 PM

EDMONTON - After comprehensive changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, will the Live-in Caregiver Program (LICP) be next?

That's if employment Minister Jason Kenney will have his way.

He said the LICP has run out of control and has been used as a distorted family reunification program.

But some kababayans and their Canadian employers don't agree.

Like Georgina Cipriano who works as a live-in caregiver for a retired couple.

"I came here December 2013 legally with a legitimate Canadian employer who I'm looking after since then. I'm a registered nurse in the Philippines and worked as an assistant nurse for two years in Norway. I gave up my good-paying job there and came here believing that Canada is a good country for my family and myself.

"I'm very lucky I got them. I consider myself to be fortunate with these two people whether they are Filipinos or whatever they're nice, goodhearted people. That's what I wanted to," Doris Holdaway, employer of Cipriano.

Kenney even singled out the Philippines, citing an experience talking with caregivers bound for Canada when he visited the country in 2010.

He said most of them were set to work for relatives and nobody had questions about worker's rights.

Kenney said most of the questions were on penalties for working outside their jobs and on getting permanent residency.

Despite this, many kababayans insist the LICP has been used as intended.

"In my experience, and we have been a non-profit society since 2006, we have been assisting employers. I have not met too many caregivers who were sponsored by their families. I'm surprised to hear about the abuses especially in Alberta because the laws here are enforced," said Edith Dimaculangan, president and founder of the Filipino Growth for Change.

Live-in caregiver Maricar Apsay said, "I got here in Canada last June 2010. I was from Taiwan. I applied through an agency. When I got here my employer was a Canadian elderly."

They hope upcoming changes to the LICP will not just be based on the alleged abuses Kenney mentioned.

"This will definitely be a disservice to the Canadian moms and children of seniors. The Filipinos are Christian and it is that culture that they are able to provide love and care. It's a natural gift that comes from them," said Dimaculangan.

Cipriano added, "I appeal to the Canadian government to protect the integrity of the legitimate live-in caregivers like myself. They should not make them suffer the consequences of what the abusers of the LIC did.