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Nannies looking for changes, as fed gov’t reviews foreign worker program

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Foreign nannies are looking for specific improvements, as the federal government undertakes a review of the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program.

For one, they’re hoping for better protection from unscrupulous employers, says Natalie Drolet of the West Coast Domestic Workers Association.

Right now, the work permits granted to live-in caregivers prevent them from being able to quickly find work with another family.

“These workers are not free to circulate in the labour market, so that automatically confers them to second class status. It means it’s difficult for them to change employers if they are experiencing any kinds of abuses or exploitation,” says Drolet, who notes they’re looking for what’s called open work permits, to enable the workers to move more freely between employers.

The association is also hoping Ottawa gets rid of the four-in, four-out rule for foreign workers. It requires nannies to return to their country of origin after four years in Canada, then wait four years to reapply to return.

“It doesn’t make any sense because these workers come to Canada and work hard for four years. Then we essentially we boot them out and say they’re not good enough to stay. We’d like to see that rule abolished,” says Drolet.

Roughly 8,000 foreign caregivers enter Canada yearly. Recently-made changes allow for the caregivers to apply for permanent residency, but the government has capped the number of applicants from the program to 5,500 per year.

The former Conservative government had already introduced reforms to the program. The changes restrict workers to areas with unemployment rates below six per cent. Foreign workers cannot exceed 10 per cent of the workforce in low-paying jobs.

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