Introducing Canada’s New and Improved Caregiver Program

This article appeared in the Dec 2, 2014 issue of the Asian Pacific Post.

This past weekend Canada’s Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander formally  changed what was previously known as the Live-In Caregiver Program to the new Caregiver Program. Speculation had been circulating for years that the program might be drastically changed including eliminating the Permanent Resident component. Fortunately the residency component has been maintained and the program has been modified to eliminate the need for caregivers to reside with their employers and to allow for speedier processing of permanent resident applications.

As of November 30th, Minister Alexander introduced new ministerial instructions that creates the Caregiver Program. Caregivers provide care for children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities in their private homes. There are now two streams in the Caregiver Program: the Caring for Children pathway and theCaring for People with High Medical Needs pathway.  The program recognizes that there is, and will continue to be for sometime, a shortage of Canadians or permanent residents who are able to provide childcare or home support for seniors or people with disabilities.  The most significant change to the program is that caregivers no longer are required to reside with their employer.  Caregivers may still choose to do so; however this must be stipulated in the employment contract and employers are no longer able to deduct a room and board expense from their wages.

To be eligible for either pathway you must have the following:

  • A positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from an employer in Canada.
  • A written contract with your future employer, signed by you and your employer. (This may still provide for a caregiver to reside with their employer but only if this is agreed to by the prospective caregiver - living in the employer’s home is no longer mandatory.)
  • Successful completion of the equivalent of at least one year Canadian post-secondary school education that is confirmed by an Educational Credential Assessment
  • At least six months approved training or one year of full-time paid work experience as a caregiver or in a related field or occupation (including six months with one employer) in the past three years.
  • Knowledge of English or French at the "initial intermediate" level by meeting the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in a designated third party language test.  For registered nurses or registered psychiatric nurses you must demonstrate language proficiency at the "intermediate" level of CLB 7 with a designated third party language test.
  • A work permit before you enter Canada.

In addition there will be speedier processing of permanent resident applications one you have satisfied the two year Canadian employment requirements.  Over the years, a considerable backlog of caregiver applications had built up with permanent resident applications often taking several years to be finalized.  This created hardship on families who were separated for many years while caregivers completed their work experience in Canada and then submitted and waited for their applications for themselves and their dependants to be processed.  The government is committing to process applications for caregivers and their dependent family members within 6 months.  In addition, they have increased processing levels by almost doubling the number of  permanent resident admissions for 2014 to 17,500 and increasing that figure to 30,000 caregiver admissions for 2015.  The government is committed to eliminating the current backlog of caregiver  permanent resident applicants and to staying on track for speedy six month processing standards of caregiver permanent resident applications in the future.

The newly invigorated Caregiver Program bodes well for both Canadians and caregivers alike.  There are now two different streams for caregivers to come to Canada in a broader range of health service that will ultimately benefit Canadians requiring childcare or home support.  The program no longer requires caregivers to live in with their employers but is permissive for those employees who wish to while eliminating the room and board wage deductions.  Permanent resident applications will be processed within six months enabling caregivers to be reunited with their family members sooner.  Finally, the backlog of caregiver applicants will be eliminated over the next year enabling caregivers to formally call Canada home and to enhance and contribute to the Canadian labour market