ON THE LIVE-IN CAREGIVER PROGRAM
ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLOW LIVE-IN CAREGIVERS TO COME IN AS LANDED IMMIGRANTS.
This is the prime demand, the central issue at hand. In order to remove the vulnerability associated with the temporary status of live-in caregivers, the Government of Canada should grant permanent resident status to live-in caregivers at the outset. Granting permanent resident status to live-in caregivers will allow them to negotiate for better working conditions or change employers to escape abusive situations. They will also have better access to benefits and services and speed up reunification with their families.
Even as we push for this fundamental change, we urge the Canadian government to:
1. Make the work permit job-specific instead of employer specific.
At minimum, the initial permit may correspond to the first employer, but, once the caregiver decides to change employers, he/she will not be obligated to re-apply for a new permit. This is similar to an open permit tying the foreign worker to a job description, but not an employer. This will also allow the caregiver to work for more than one employer at the same time, in cases where they want to supplement their income through part-time work. Another possibility, which is a third and lesser option, is to allow the caregiver to work for a new employer and to allow her/him to apply for the permit retroactively, counting the waiting time as part of the two-year requirement.
2. Remove the mandatory live-in requirement. Give caregivers the option to live in or out of their employers’ home.
Live-in arrangements should be optional and subject to contract negotiations between the employer and the live-in caregiver. This will provide flexibility for live-in caregivers and employers to meet their needs according to their circumstances, as well as reduce the incidence of abuse and exploitation.
3. Regulate and monitor the operations and practices of employment agencies and private individuals involved in the recruitment of foreign caregivers and other migrant workers. Violations should be dealt with accordingly and violators penalized.
There is a need for legislation and regulation in both federal and provincial governments that not only monitors but also holds accountable training, recruitment and placement agencies involved in the live-in caregiver program.
4. Stop the deportation of caregivers and other migrant workers and call for a transparent and impartial process of appeal available to these workers before any decision to deport is made.
Reinstate the government-funded, provincial legal aid services and ensure that caregivers and other migrant workers are entitled to free legal aid, including coverage for labour and immigration cases, and services.
5. Implement/enforce the employment standards and occupational health and safety acts for caregivers and other migrant workers in the same way as these apply to all Canadians and permanent residents.
As well, the provincial labour ministries should conduct regular monitoring of such implementation, including inspection of workplaces with the involvement of the workers or their representatives.
6. Sign the U.N. Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and adopt statutes for its implementation.
A Salute to Crispin 'Ka Bel' Beltran, Working Class Hero
We, in the solidarity and migrant worker’s movement, are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and comrade Ka Bel. It was barely over a month ago that Ka Bel visited us here in Canada , working among Canadian parliamentarians, trade unionists and his overseas kababayan to bring the struggles and hopes of the Filipino people to those of us abroad. Ka Bel leaves us at the age of 75 years, the victim of a household accident. He succumbed to severe head injuries on Tuesday, May 20, after a bad fall from the roof of his house in Bulacan province.
Ultimately everyone must die, but the sum of his or her life will vary in its significance. The life of Ka Bel was a weighty life indeed. Many would measure a person’s weight by the size of their bank account. In a Congress dominated by millionaires, Beltran died still the poorest member of the House of Representatives, with a net worth of only 50,000 pesos (CAN $1,149). His Bulacan home was only purchased four years ago. It was a simple unpainted house in a low-cost housing subdivision
The weight of his life could not be measured in gold, but by his patriotism, his self-sacrifice and perseverance, and by his service to the Filipino People. He has withstood many tests, threats to his life, bribery attempts, political persecution while standing up to injustice in whatever form to fight for national freedom and democracy in the Philippines, and for a just and fair society for workers and people of the world.
A long time trade union leader, Beltran became chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (‘May First Movement’) in 1987 after the military assassinated his predecessor Rolando Olalia. He remained head of the KMU until he was elected to the Philippine Congress as a representative of Anakpawis Party-list. He was a leader in the Congressional opposition against the corrupt and brutal rule of current president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Beltran was a political prisoner during the Martial Law era of fascist dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He was again detained by the Arroyo regime in 2006 under false criminal charges of rebellion, and was held prisoner for more than a year in a hospital prison. “I am innocent of the rebellion charge against me,” he said upon his release. “It’s neither a sin nor against the law to speak against graft and corruption and the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians.'
We join all comrades and friends in honouring him for his countless contributions and achievements as a patriotic, anti-imperialist and democratic worker, labour leader, lawmaker, and activist. In saying goodbye, we salute a friend, patriot and relentless defender of the poor, oppressed and voiceless in the Philippines and beyond. Paalam, Ka Bel.
About the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines
Two decades ago, in 1986, Filipinos celebrated the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Finally, after 18 years of martial rule, many of us felt the time has come to live once again in peace and democracy. Proud of what people power can do, we set out to build a just society where Filipinos had a voice in the affairs of our country.
A sad and disturbing realization is that the situation is even worse today. In the last five years, there have been numerous extra-judicial killings (797 from 2001 to 2006). Abductions and disappearances have become a common occurrence once again. According to Karapatan, an organization that documents human rights violation in the Philippines, “the year 2006 is the worst for human rights since the toppling of the Marcos fascist dictatorship”.
Workers, peasants, church workers, lawyers, doctors, journalists are among the victims of this senseless oppression. Those who are being killed are mostly members of organizations who speak for the rights of all Filipinos, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. They are the same ones who speak for the rights of the families that migrant workers leave behind. They are the people who try to change the dire situation, the joblessness and poverty that forced many of us to leave our country and loved ones behind.
As a cause-oriented organization that works for the rights and welfare of migrant Filipinos, the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada (PMSC) is expressing its deep concern for the lives and welfare of those who seek to fight for the rights of others. PMSC condemns the attacks by the Arroyo government on people’s organizations and their representatives.
We must speak for those who are being silenced! We must have our voices heard!
We must support the STOP THE KILLINGS CAMPAIGN! Together we can make a difference!