In the midst of worries about unchecked population growth, Canada is one of those rare countries whose population is actually shrinking. Every day, more people die and less children are born. More and more people get old, retire, and receive pension that comes from taxes – but there are not enough young people earning salaries and paying those taxes.
The government of Canada has come up with a great solution: open up immigration and invite workers from other countries to pick up the bill for the retiring Canadian population. This has greatly helped the economy in the last decade – and yet, it’s not enough. Immigration remains a hot political issue, with every party, even the traditionally anti-immigrant right-wing parties, demanding more immigrants, faster immigration process, and easier standards for acceptance of immigrants.
Until recently, the immigration policies concentrated mainly on highly educated professionals. The famous Canadian points system awards a certain amount of points for education and years of professional experience. Unfortunately, with time, this system created problems of its own: with many professionals coming to Canada, there are now not enough workers in trades that don’t require a university diploma. Canada is slowly becoming a country of manages who have nobody to manage.
The aging population also remains a problem. The influx of highly educated professionals isn’t doing much to improve the lives of retired Canadians. There are not enough people to look after the old and infirm. Some move into homes for the aged, but those places are often expensive and have long waiting lists. The province of Ontario alone spends over 30 million dollars a year on these long-term care facilities, and this burden lays heavy on the budget. Many people simply prefer to remain at home, in the place they know and love, instead of starting out in a new place so late in their lives. Often, this means that their own family members have to quit their jobs and stay at home – and that only makes the shortage of workers worse.
The same problem faces families with children. There are plenty of teachers in Canada, but not enough nannies and babysitters, and so until the child is old enough to go to school, one of the parents often has to quit that job at the factory, where he or she is so sorely needed, and stay home with the child.
And so the Canadian immigration system is slowly adapting to the new workforce crisis. To help take care of the aging Canadian population, the government has created a great immigration program called the Live-In Caregiver program.
The Live-In Caregiver program only gives you a temporary work permit. However, after only two years of working in your job, you are allowed to apply for Permanent Residence – without having to show a university degree or years of professional experience! This program is of great help to the old and infirm and to families with children, but it’s also of great help to people without professional education who dream of coming to Canada.
To qualify for the Live-In Caregiver program, you have to comply with these minimal requirements:
• You have to have a High School diploma or its equivalent from your country;
• You have to show enough English or French to understand instructions, speak to the doctor on the phone, and read medicine labels;
• You have to show EITHER that you have completed a 6-month full-time training course related to the kind of care you’ll be providing (child care, geriatric care, physical therapy, and others) OR that you have worked full time in a related field (such as a hospital or a child care facility) for at least 12 months, 6 of which you spent working for the same employer.
You have to agree that completing a 6-month course is much easier than getting a university degree, which takes many years to complete. There are many medical and child care courses available in every country, and they are generally much cheaper than university tuition. The Live-In Caregiver program allows you to come to Canada with a very small investment of your time and money, and once you are here, you will not have to worry about unemployment, because a job will already be waiting for you. After two years, by the time you can apply for your Permanent Residence, you will have some money saved and will have very valuable Canadian work experience, which will make it much easier for you to find a different, better paid job.
The catch is that for these two years you will have to live in your employer’s home. If you are looking after an old or infirm person, you will have to live in that person’s home; if you are looking after children, you will have to live in the home of their parents. This means that for these two years, you will not be able to bring your family to Canada – but don’t worry: when you are applying for your Permanent Residence, you will be able to include your spouse and children in your application, and once it is approved, they will come to Canada as Canadian residents. It also means that if, during these two years you want to change jobs, you will have to apply to the immigration authorities for approval.
However, living in your employer’s home does not mean you will have no rights. You will be entitled to the same protections as any Canadian citizens. Your employer will have to pay you the same wage as he or she would have to pay a Canadian; he or she will not have the right to ask you to work longer hours without paying you overtime; he or she will be required by law to give you a private room and will not have the right to go into your room without your permission. If you feel that your employer is breaking the law and abusing you in any way, you will be able to report this to the police. You will never have to be afraid of speaking up and demanding your rights, because you will be a fully legal employee. And you will always have the option of finding another employer.
There are many Live-In Caregiver agencies in Canada that specialize in finding work for foreign caregivers. When dealing with them, be careful: some of them are scams, and sometimes people pay a lot of money to come to Canada only to find that they have no job waiting for them. It’s not necessary to go through one of these agencies. In fact, as part of the Live-In Caregiver program, you have to be hired directly by your employer and cannot be hired by an agency. This means that the only work these agencies perform is looking for job openings that might suit you – and you can easily do this yourself. It is always better to find your job directly through your future employer. If you have to spend six months taking caregiver courses in your country, you can use these six months wisely: read the online wanted ads of Canadian newspapers; upload your profile to Canadian job search engines and search them for job openings. This will take time, but will be absolutely free. If you don’t have the time and would rather hire an agency, be sure to check its credentials by contacting the government of the province where it is located.
Once you have found a person who wants to hire you, he or she will have to apply for permission to hire you with the Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada. Your employer will have to show that he or she tried, but couldn’t, find a Canadian to take the job. Once the HRSDC approves your employer’s application, you will be free to apply for a Temporary Work Visa at your local Canadian embassy. The entire process usually takes no more than 3 months.
Good luck, and see you in Canada!