Canada has always been one of the most popular destinations of foreign workers from Asia, especially from the Philippines, not only because of the good job offers but also because of other good opportunities.
One of these is the ability of foreign workers to apply for permanent residency in the country through the different programs offered by the Canadian government: the Live-in Caregiver Program, the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Program, and the Provincial Nominee Programs offered in each province.
For a long time, foreign workers have enjoyed the said opportunities, and more workers are coming to Canada because of these. Lately, though, there have been some changes made on the foreign contract worker rules that may affect the status of workers already in Canada and those who are still planning to work in the country.
To protect foreign workers in Canada, the Canadian government is putting new measures in place. One is the more intensive evaluation of any job offer to foreign workers to ensure that the offer is genuine. Two is the penalty to employers who do not perform their duties to their workers well in terms of worker salary, occupation, and working conditions. This penalty comes in the form of a prohibition to hire foreign workers for two years.
The Four-Year Rule
Other than the rule changes mentioned above, there’s also a new rule pertaining to the limitation on the stay of foreign workers in Canada. Today, they are only allowed to work for a maximum of four years in the country. After finishing the said number of years, workers have to wait for another four years before they can work in the country again.
The said change in policy is implemented for two reasons, as follow:
1. To emphasize that the permits given to foreign contract workers are only temporary
2. To encourage individuals working in Canada for the purpose of immigration to apply for some of the other programs available
While the said purposes are good and valid, there are a few concerns regarding the matter:
1. The limitation imposed may cause workers to refuse to work in Canada and to choose other countries that allow a lengthier period of stay.
2. Others who want to remain longer than the allowed number of years may violate the rules.
3. Those who comply with this new rule change may find it hard to leave after four years just when they have already built connections and have already adapted well with the life in the country.
4. Those who are planning to return will have to wait for a long time, and most may not have access to other means of gaining permanent residency.
5. All these may lead to shortage of manpower in Canada.
Rule Changes in the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP)
While the rule changes made in foreign contract worker policies may not be all favorable to contract workers, those enrolled in the LCP will be seeing new positive changes in the regulatory and administrative rules. LCP is a program that allows caregivers to work in Canada and then to apply for permanent residency when they have finally completed the program.
The new rule changes include improvement in work policies and conditions, as follow:
1. Employment contracts are now required to include details about worker responsibilities, benefits covered by the employer, work hours and overtime, holiday and sick leaves, accommodations, and termination or resignation conditions.
2. Said contracts must also address benefits paid by the employer: recruitment fees, transportation (from the worker’s residence to the new place of work in Canada), medical insurance (before the provincial health coverage applies), and workplace safety insurance.
3. Immediate processing of new work permits for caregivers who may be abused, intimidated, or threatened in their current place of work.
4. Availability of CIC call centre caregiver telephone servicer to help caregivers and employers become aware of their rights and responsibilities.
Other than these changes in work policies, changes have also been made in the policies pertaining to caregivers’ application for permanent residence. These changes include:
1. The addition of another year (four instead of the former three) for program completion.
2. The option among caregivers to apply for permanent residency sooner. They can decide whether to calculate their work experience according to the usual two-year basis or according to accumulated 3,900 work hours. When it comes to overtime hours, only 10% of the said hours could be used for the program.
3. The possible elimination of the second standard medical exam that was required before when applying for permanent residency after two years. Immigration officers can now assess medical admissibility according to the medical exam taken by the worker prior to coming to Canada as permanent residence.
All the said changes in contract foreign worker policies and LCP rules are done for the purpose of protecting employee interest in recognition of their huge contribution to Canada.
Sources: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/releases/2010/2010-08-18.asp and Filipino newspapers in the Toronto area September 2010 issue
Disclaimer: The immigration article posted above does not substitute as a legal advice on immigration issues. If you need to consult a qualified professional about your case, you can visit a qualified immigration professional in your city or country. Use due diligence in doing so.