The Tragic Situation of Live In Caregivers

I attended a press conference today, organized by the Philippine Women Centre of BC, the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association, SIKLAB, and Grassroots Women – BC, to highlight the terrible situation facing Live-In Caregivers who are being removed from Canadian airports, even though they have been approved, and issued legal documents, to work in Canada.

The event focused on the removal of Ligaya Villacrusis, a Filipina nurse who arrived at Vancouver International Airport July 4, with a work visa. She was eventually turned away and sent back to London, because her employment could not be verified.

She’s not the only one … there are many more women who are being traumatized and exploited by unscrupulous employment agencies which can charge $5 000 – $10 000 for their services, and by the Canadian government, which is so deeply complicit in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that also exploits workers.

I was horrified to hear the details of Ligaya’s situation. Canadians believe we have a fair immigration system and labour practices. Not so! The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is deeply flawed and seems more intent on enforcement and deportation of workers than protecting people’s rights, and ending the harmful practices of these agencies.

I will be writing to the Minister responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (the fact that 3 federal departments are involved further frustrates and complicates the situation for these workers), to register my concerns. I will be calling for an end to airport-to-airport deportations, and a full review of the program, emphasizing the need to protect workers’ rights.

My colleague, Olivia Chow, MP for Trinity Spadina, and Critic for Citizenship and Immigration for the NDP, has raised this issue many times in Parliament, as have I. We will continue to press the government to act.

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