Federal government shuts down two caregiver programs despite the needs of Canadian families
Posted on - Feb 18, 2018

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On February 7, 2018, Canada’s Minister of Immigration formally announced the closing of our two immigration programs for caregivers – the Caring for Children and the Caring for Persons with High Medical Needs. As part of it’s economic immigration program, Canada has maintained a permanent residence stream for caregivers for over 30 years which has provided a much-needed supply of caregiving professionals to assist Canadians with rearing children and providing for elderly parents and grandparents. These recent announcements should be of grave concern to Canadians who are facing childcare or eldercare responsibilities.

Historically Canada has included caregivers in their immigration program for over 100 years. As of 1900, Canada welcomed European nannies, nursemaids and governesses granting them permanent residence upon arrival. In 1992 the Live-in-Caregiver (LIC) program was introduced providing a pathway to permanent residence for caregivers after 24 months of full time caregiving work in Canada. On November 29, 2014, the Conservative government of the day, eliminated the LIC program and introduced the Caring for Children and Caring for Persons with High Medical Needs pilot programs which imposed much higher educational and language proficiency requirements as well as a $1000 application fee for prospective Canadian employers. Prior to the changes in Nov 2014, Canada was processing over 10,000 permanent resident applications per year for Caregivers and their dependents.

The Conservative Harper government, also at that time, imposed an annual cap of 5500 applicants for permanent residence. These changes have had such a dramatic effect on the program that less than 2000 applicants and their dependents have obtained permanent residence in the first three years since the program was introduced. As a result of these changes, the number of caregivers coming to Canada has plummeted with the result that Canadians are facing an increasing shortage of caregivers to assist with caring for their young children and elderly parents.

The Minister’s recent announcements direct that no further applications for permanent residence will be accepted for processing after the formal closure of the programs. The notice also provides that “They are reviewing the program to determine how caregivers will apply for permanent residence after the pilot expires on Nov. 29, 2019.

We will announce the details well before the pilots expire.” Unfortunately, that leaves both current and prospective caregivers and employers in a state of flux. The announced closure of these programs creates a level of uncertainty for both the caregivers as well as the Canadians who depend upon their services.

With the programs closures, will work permits still be issued? Should employers commit to offering employment to prospective caregivers pending the closure of the programs? Should caregiver applicants risk leaving their families to come to Canada without knowing their future prospects in Canada?

There is little comfort to either caregivers or Canadians in the Minister’s closing remark: “The Government is committed to ensuring that Caregivers continue to have a pathway for permanent residence.”

As a professional working mother, I state quite plainly that I couldn’t have raised my children, maintained my Vancouver immigration law practice, served my clients, and continued to employ my staff as a Canadian immigration lawyer without the benefit of this country’s caregiver immigration program.

The ramifications of not having caregiving assistance go far beyond our own personal or professional circumstances, but they have direct bearing on the people that we employ and the people to whom we provide services to. Caregivers are a greatly needed feature of Canada’s ongoing economic success. The Minister should take immediate action to inform Canadians of what form Canada’s next caregiver permanent residence program will take.

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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