Category Archives: Nanny News & Media

A Suitcase Full of Adventures, Stories and Experiences

We love hearing stories from our Au Pairs in Canada, especially those who have change throughout their time with the host family. Here, we want to share another Au Pairs testimonial to her time here in Canada. She is a German girl who came to Canada to find adventure but she was able to experience so much more. Laura Testimonial part 1

My name is Laura. I’m 19 years old and from Germany. After graduation, most of my friends started studying right away, but I wanted to explore the world, to have a great adventure and to be able to tell an awesome story. Since the first time I heard someone mention that they were an Au Pair, it turned into my dream to become one. I like to spend time with children, and being able to live in another country while spending time with my host child and traveling appealed a lot to me. When my family and I visited Canada for the first time, I was very impressed by this country and its amazing nature. Canada is a huge country, the second largest in the world, and I only saw a tiny part of it in Ontario, but it was already enough to impress me. I was sure I wanted to be an Au Pair in Canada. Being an Au Pair is a great opportunity to explore a different country, to get to know its culture and lifestyle, to meet new people, to spend time with children, to travel and to improve the language.

I will skip the part with applying as an Au Pair, waiting for the work permit and finding a host family because it wasn’t very exciting except the part with the host family. Waiting and hoping every day for getting my work permit and finding a host family was really fraught but worth it.

After two goodbye parties with my family and friends and saying goodbye to my parents and my sister at the airport, my adventure began in February 2015. I flew to Vancouver on my own and had my Orientation Day there. On the same day, my host family, consisting of my host parents and my eight year old host child, would pick me up, and we would take the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island, my new home. I was very nervous and excited, but it was gone soon when I met my host family. I felt so welcome and familiar right away, and all my worries were gone.

Laura Testimonial part 2Now, after living already 11 months in Victoria, I know being an Au Pair in Canada is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I haven’t regretted it once. I made so many new and incredible experiences and found a second home and a second family. My first impression about my host family being a lovely, kind and funny one has never change. Every day we have lots of fun, a lot to laugh about, and I’m part of this awesome family. For my host child and I, it took a little while to get to know each other, but now, we have a close relationship, and I will miss him when I leave. We have lots of fun together, and I enjoy spending time with him. Most times, I take care for him before and after school. Before school, I make sure that he is ready in time and drop him of at school, only a short walk from home. After school, I pick him up again, and we do some fun stuff, like going for a bike ride or to a playground. Despite of taking care of my host child, I had many opportunities to travel. For a few days, I went to Seattle, US, a ferry ride away from Victoria, and often to Vancouver, a ferry ride away as well. I also explored British Columbia, a province in Canada, and found amazing spots. For almost one month, my host family went to Europe, and I decided to stay in Canada, instead of visiting my own family in Germany. I came to Canada to explore this country and not to go back to Germany during my vacation. I travelled almost the entire month and went to the Canadian Rockies with an organization. The Rockies are amazing, and I enjoyed exploring them in a group of young adults. As well during this month, I explored whole Vancouver Island with another Au Pair. We went to Tofino and did a three days hike close to Port Hardy. During this hike, we carried all our stuff which we needed for three days and slept in the woods and at the beach. I never imagined I would do such a long hike without any connection to the world. However, I was impressed by it and the nature and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again because it is an incredible adventure. We had luck to meet only a wolf during this hike and to see a bear during the drive. During my host child’s summer breaks, my host family and I went camping and flew to Hawaii for one week. Even though Hawaii is really beautiful, I’m still more impressed by Canada. I celebrated all the holidays, like Christmas or New Year, with my host family, and I enjoyed it.  For me, it was weird to unwrap the presents at the morning of Christmas Day (25.12) and to have no fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but I had a great time and made new experiences.

My time went by so fast, and I can’t believe that I’m leaving Canada in less than one month. I made so many great experiences I never imagined and I will miss everyone I met. I really enjoy my stay in Canada, and I can’t say I like it here; rather, I love it here. Victoria is a wonderful city with a lot to offer and to explore. Everything is close by: Downtown Victoria, woods, ocean, lakes, hills, nature, the mainland of British Columbia and the US. I have the nature right in front of my doorstep with a lake close by, woods and deer, squirrels and racoons in the backyard. Canada is awesome, and I’m really feeling home here. I love the nature, the city of Victoria and the mentality of the Canadians. When you leave the bus, you shout Laura Testimonial part 3“Thank you!” to the bus driver through the whole bus. Everyone greets you and talks to you. I improved my English a lot. First, it was challenging for me to speak English the whole day, but now, it’s no problem whatsoever. I was shy to speak English at the beginning because I made a lot of mistakes, and still now my English isn’t perfect. However, I learned to just speak English and not to care about my mistakes. The Canadians are impressed by my English skills and by the fact to be able to speak more than one language.

During my last 11 months, I made my own Canadian life and got to know so many new people. For me, it won’t be easy to say goodbye to my host family, to all the people I met during my stay, to my Canadian home and to Canada in less than one month. However, it doesn’t have to be a goodbye forever, and it won’t.

I really recommend everybody to take the opportunity and to go overseas. I left my family, friends, my German home and Germany 11 months ago and didn’t know what to expect in Canada, but I will return to Germany with a suitcase full of adventures, stories and experiences. Being an Au Pair in Canada is an incredible adventure and a great lifetime experience. I got to know a different country, culture and people and learned a lot about myself while finding a second family and home.

My Dream Is Coming True: Jule as an Au Pair in Whistler, BC

I decided to be an Au Pair pretty early. I love being with kids and wanted to explore the world after I passed my A-Levels. Why not going to Canada as an Au Pair? After almost a year of preparation, a lot of paper work, waiting, skype calls, up and downs I finally got my lovely host family. The family consists of 4: my host mom Lesley; my host dad Matthew; Sedona (4) and Alex (2).Julia Whister

My adventure started in August 2015. Saying goodbye to my family and friends was really tough for me, that is why I was incredibly glad that I wasn’t alone during the flight. Myself and 9 other girls were flying together from Germany to Vancouver, Canada. All of us were really excited as we left our families and friends behind to live in a new country, with another language, without knowing anybody and 9 hours time difference. It was a completely new world to us. We stayed 3 days in Vancouver and had our orientation-days there. We got a lot of information, a tour through Vancouver and had time to explore this awesome city on our own. To do that we rented bikes and had a ride through the wonderful Stanley Park. The girls who had been strangers two days before were turning into friends really fast.
The “day of the days” was coming and we should meet our families. Because I’m an Au Pair in Whistler my family picked me up at the hotel. I was so glad about not having another flight like most of the other girls. Instead of flying to the other side of Canada I was waiting in front of the hotel and got incredibly nervous. The moment I met my host mom and the kids in real life for the first time all of it was gone. I felt so welcome from the first second we met. This feeling shouldn’t leave.

Julia PumpkinsThe first weeks were really special. Lesley is a teacher, but she wasn’t at school for the beginning of my time. We had a lot of time for exploring Whistler, figuring out where everything is and most important of all we had time to get to know each other. Especially for the relationship between myself and the kids this time was awesome. Since Lesley is back at school the kids and I go to the library, playgroup, parks, riding our bikes, go to the playground, play in the snow etc. We do every possible activity, enjoy every day and share awesome experiences. Every day is a great adventure and it is never getting boring with my little ones. Because I’m all day long with the kids we’re pretty close. It’s breathtaking that I got the possibility  helping them to explore the world, seeing how they develop every day, learn new words or riding their bikes-being part of their life. I’ll never forget all the awesome moments like the first hug, the first kiss or the first ‘Jule I love you’. After 2,5 months here I went with two friends on our first trip to Vancouver. We stayed there for 3 days and had a lot of fun. The moment I was coming back home the kids were getting totally crazy because they were so happy that I’m back again. I got a lot of hugs and Sedona made some ‘Welcome Back Cards’. They missed me and the moment I realized this these two little kids made me almost cry.

 

I didn’t only fall in love with my family, I fell in love with Whistler, too. It’s breathtaking every day.

Where else is everybody totally excited about the ski opening and just talking about it all day long since beginning of October? Where else is one of the first questions ‘are you a skier or Julia Familyboarder’? Where else you could get out of the bus with two kids and stay totally calm if you see a bear on the other side of the road?  – just here in Whistler.

This was the perfect choice for me and I never rued or will rue it. I found a new family, new friends and a second home. I’m glad that I got this possibility and I will never forget this fabulous time. I’m looking forward spending the next 7 months here and I’m so excited what time will bring.

Thanks to my family and my Canadian family, my great German agency AIFS  and the Canadian agency International Nannies for supporting me, giving me this chance and answering all my questions every time.

If you’re interested in becoming an Au Pair, take your chance, register and spend the best year of your life abroad. Don’t miss this chance!

Cheers, Jule

 

 

Spending the Holidays with Your Au Pair

The holiday season is a great time of year where we can enjoy family time, celebrate the season of giving and eat way too much pie without feeling guilty. This year will be even more special for you as your Au Pair may be celebrating her first Christmas in North America! Throughout our experiences in the Au Pair industry, we have come up with a couple of tips to help you get through the holidays relaxed, stress-free and all with a cup full of cheer!

Talk About Holiday Schedules Earlystockings

Your schedule may be filling up quickly due to another work party, school Christmas concerts or skating with the grandparents. We ask that you be mindful of your Au Pair as her schedule may be filling up just as quickly. She may even have plans to go down to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas on the beach. You won’t know what her plans are until you ask, and it’s never too early to plan out the holidays. So pull out the family calendar and, over a cup of tea, go through each day of the holidays. You will both need to be flexible during this time of year to accommodate each other’s needs. Your Au Pair should understand that their job comes first but in the spirit of the holidays, and to make your placement successful, you may need to work together to find a compromise so that both of you have an enjoyable holiday.

Christmas OrnamentInclude Your Au Pair in Your Own Traditions  

The holidays may be a tough time for your Au Pair as this may be her first time away from her family for Christmas. It’s always best to go into these scenarios with the mindset of, “If she can’t be with her own family, then she can be with her Canadian family.” Invite her to join in on your traditional Christmas morning skate or if you’re sending out a Christmas card, include her into the picture. Fill a stocking for her to make her feel included or get her to write a letter to Santa with the kids. Anything to make her feel at home and that she is wanted in your family.

Help Your Au Pair Adjust to the ClimateLetitia mitten

Holiday seasons are usually followed by harsh Canadian winters. Help your Au Pair adjust to the changes in the weather by getting her prepared. She may be use to having a warm, sunny holiday where she can open presents on the beach. If this is the case, go shopping with her to get her proper winter attire: scarf, winter mittens and a proper Canadian toque! This is when we need to remember the old Scandinavian saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Follow Some of her TraditionsGingerbread Man

This is also a great opportunity for you to learn about how other cultures celebrate the holiday season. Ask your Au Pair about some traditions that her and her family have. Try to include them into your holiday season as well! Ask her lots of questions about how she celebrates the holidays, any special songs she likes to sing, any traditional meals she likes to make. This will make her feel more welcomed and perhaps you can get a sweet treat in the process!

Signs of Homesickness

So, you’ve been with the family now for a couple of weeks and the “honeymoon” phase is slowly fading away. Activities are not as exciting as they use to be and you find yourself thinking about home more. You may be experiencing homesickness.

Although homesickness is quite self-explanatory, I’d like to discuss it a bit further and comfort you in saying that this is a perfectly normal occurrence! It happens to everyone and it can be seen as a positive thing.

Defined, homesickness is the “distress or functional impairment cause by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.” Josh Klapow, a clinical Traveling Woman 2psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health says that it “stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security-feelings and qualities usually associate with home.” So, although you are away from home, your emotions are reminding you that home is a good place and you should feel lucky to have a place like that so special to you.

Understanding homesickness, and where it stems from, can help you to deal with it better and perhaps you’ll feel less anxious as to why you’re feeling sad or lonely and just embrace those emotions. Here are some common signs of homesickness and suggestions on how to deal with them:

Feeling sad, lonely or insecure
You may feel as though you are an outsider and that no matter how hard you try, you cannot fit in anywhere. Don’t be too discouraged if the first couple of times you try to hang out with someone, your plans fall through or if you can’t even find someone you own age. Keep trying to meet new people and don’t be afraid to approach someone! A simple “Hi, how are you?” could create a friendship.

Crying
Crying for no particular reason is a totally normal part of homesickness. You’re sad and this is your body’s natural reaction. Let yourself be sad and you should feel better after. With the highs come the lows.

Feeling unusually anxious or upset about something Again, you may have no rhyme or reason for feeling on edge but it’s just your body’s way to reacting to discomfort. Put yourself in a comfortable situation such as talking on the phone with your parents, or taking the evening off to watch your favourite movie.

Being unable to get into a comfortable routine
You can’t find your groove and feel as though you need guidance. Ask your host parents if they can recommend any good sport facilities such as gyms, swimming pools or yoga studios. Find an activity in the community that happens once a week or so. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and have a weekly activity to look forward to! Use online forums and chats such as meetup.com to find people in your area who enjoy the same activities as you.

Reminiscing about times at home
The idea of mom’s homemade meals and dad’s lame jokes may keep popping up in your mind throughout the day. Share these thoughts/memories with people around you; especially your host parents! This is a great way to make a connection with your new host family and to spark a conversation on their past memories. This is also a great opportunity to make your new home a home. Dive into the family’s activities, make a craft with one of the kids or redecorate your room! Home is where the heart is.

It is important to remember that these feelings of homesickness will pass and if you push through them your time abroad will be more beneficial than just getting on the next plane home.Au pair and child It’s important to understand that homesickness is a normal occurrence for everyone and that it is an emotion. Usually, emotions come in waves and you have the strength to ride it out until it’s done! Your emotions are telling you that you are out of your element. It’s good to push ourselves out of our element because it allows us to grow and prosper. But with ying comes yang and we cannot see the light unless we have dark.

 

 

Best Childcare Option for your Family: Nanny or Au Pair?

Child Care ConceptWhat is the best in-home care option for your family?

A Nanny or an Au Pair?

Locally based childcare in Canada is extremely difficult to find and consequently many parents choose to hire an applicant from overseas through the In-Home Caregiver Program. This is a temporary foreign worker program which enables families to hire a nanny for their children, or a caregiver for their elderly or disabled relatives.

In order to qualify, nannies must have obtained at least one full year of work experience or completed a full-time six month long caregiving course. There is no age limit for nanny applicants but the majority fall between 25-45 years of age. Though their duties are predominantly childcare, a live-in nanny can also perform light housekeeping and , meal preparation for the family.

In turn, the family must be able to offer their nanny applicant a full-time, long-term employment. The nanny may live in the home with the family but room and board must be free of charge. It also helps the nanny who can learn from the family and settle into living and working in Canada since typically this will be her first time in the country.  

The employer when hiring an overseas nanny must pay for her travel costs, including airfare, but many families use their travel points to fly their nanny to Canada.  Depending on the province in which they are based, the family may also be required to  pay for her to be covered for temporary private health insurance if she is not immediately eligible on her arrival to apply for provincial health insurance coverage.

Depending on province, a full-time live in nanny starts at $ 395 – 450 per week.

Hiring someone through the In-Home Caregiver Program can be extremely successful and many parents gain a long term, consistent and reliable live-in or live-out nanny, someone they and their children have grown over time to know and trust. In-Home nannies provide great flexibility right in your home and provide that extra pair of hands for busy families.

However there is a lengthy wait for a nanny’s arrival, often taking about six months for all the paperwork to be processed.

If a family is planning to go the overseas nanny route, PLAN AHEAD !!

And because the nanny’s employment is required to be full-time, it is not a program that is suited to the needs of all families.

This is one of the reasons why a growing number of parents are choosing to hire an Au Pair. An Au Pair is someone who is also based overseas and looking for a childcare position with a Canadian family, but is typically younger (18-27) with less professional work experience, and interested as much in the cultural benefits of their stay. They too live in their employers’ home and learn about the Canadian way of life, but also take an active part in family life; becoming a big sister to the children they are caring for. Childcare makes up the majority of their duties and while they may do some tidying of the home and laundry, this is only as it relates to the children i.e. tidying the children’s toys, washing the children’s clothing etc. Au Pairs also typically hold full drivers licences and are thus able to drive the children to and from school and other activities if required by the family.

Au Pairs obtain a work permit through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which allows them to live and work in the country for a maximum of one year usually. The application process is expeditious, taking approximately 8-12 weeks. And because a job offer isn’t required prior to applying, many Au Pairs will have obtained their Visa even before interviewing with families so can travel to Canada as soon as they have found the perfect family to work for. For parents, the process of hiring an Au Pair is extremely simple as the Au Pair herself is responsible for purchasing her own airfare and temporary travel insurance for the duration of her stay. Au Pairs are not required to work a certain number of hours so they can be flexible, working full or part time as their host family requires.

Because they lack the professional work experience of a nanny, Au Pairs are not usually suitable for taking care of newborn and very young babies. However for toddlers and older children they can be great role models, introducing your family to another culture and even another language. While some families hire an Au Pair to cover their childcare needs for a full twelve months, others may only be needed during the school year or even while a family is waiting for their live-in nanny’s application to be approved.  Whatever the situation, Au Pairs make a great immediate and temporary childcare solution for some, while for other families a live-in nanny provides that consistent, long-term childcare they require.   

 

Manuela Gruber Hersch is the owner of International Nannies & Homecare Ltd.(www.internationalnannies.com ) and also a founding director of ACNA Canada ( Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada). She also came to Canada as an overseas live in nanny and employs a live in nanny for her two children.

Solving the problem of Canada’s aging population

Canada is becoming an increasingly elderly population. It is estimated that by 2036, the number of Canadians aged 65 or older will nearly double; making up 25% of the total population. This is expected to place an increased financial burden not only on Canada’s health care system but also on the home care industry, which is already struggling to accommodate an increasing number of people.

Many elderly people will reach a point where they require an extra level of assistance on a day to day basis. Sometimes this can be instigated by an accident or a prolonged illness, and sometimes it is just that they have become frailer with age. And with the increasing demands of everyday life it is often not possible for family and friends to provide the kind of full-time companionship an elderly person living alone may need.

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is one solution, allowing an elderly person or persons to remain safely in their home with companionship and care. Live-in caregivers work full-time hours and reside in their employer’s home. They provide assistance with mobility, personal care, medication reminders, run errands and perform light housekeeping.

The cost of a live-in caregiver’s wages can be offset in part by the room and board an employer will be paid by them in turn, so a live-in caregiver is designed to be a financially viable option for families. Over a long term, a live-in caregiver is also a much less expensive option than prolonged hospital stays or a permanent move to an elderly care facility. Economically it is in the country’s best interests to support in-home care for senior citizens.

The LCP is also beneficial to the live-in caregiver (a temporary foreign worker) who, through living in their Canadian employer’s home, is able to become settled here much faster and grow accustomed to the Canadian way of life. It is a program that works extremely well to integrate foreign workers to the country.

Our senior citizens’ current dependence on elderly care facilities demonstrates that they, and their families, are willing to invest in good, long term care. In turn, we should make sure that the LCP is a viable and timely option for Canadian families.

 

Your Open Work Permit Has Arrived? What Next?

Tips once your open work permit arrives:

After at least two years of working as a live-in caregiver, the arrival of your open work permit is very exciting! While some caregivers may consider childcare a lifelong profession, for others, an open work permit signals a chance to seize fresh opportunities.

As enticing as it sounds, simply jumping from one job into another isn’t the best way to manage your new found freedom. If anything, there are some important steps to take after receiving your open work permit (and even before!)

1. Tell Your Employer: When the time arrives to apply for your open work permit, you must tell your employer about your plans. Will you continue your employment with the family after the permit arrives, or do you plan on finding a new job?

2. Give Your Employer Notice: If you do plan on leaving your employer for another job, it is best to give your employer a formal notice of resignation. What does this mean? You must provide your employer with a written letter explaining  that you are “giving your notice”, or in other words, “quitting your job”. In your letter you must provide the date of your last work day. The standard is two weeks’ notice however; your employment contract may provide a longer notice period. Some may state 4 weeks, or even 8 weeks.  Since finding a suitable nanny takes considerable time, you should stay with your employer until they find a replacement, or arrange for alternative care.

3. Consider Your Options: Although the world beyond your employers’ home looks promising, finding work in Canada is a challenge, even for Canadian citizens. That being said, it is wise to research your job options. How much do you realistically need to earn in order to afford rent and other living expenses? Is your plan to save money for family sponsorship? Are you interested in attending school? Many live-out nannies earn approximately $15/hour. While this may seem like a significant increase from your minimum wage salary, after factoring in new costs, you may not have much extra cash to save, or put towards other expenses.

4. Maintain Your Work Ethic: If you do plan on leaving your employers, the receipt of your open work permit is not an excuse to lower your work standards. You should, until the day you depart from your employer’s home maintain the same high level of work.

5. Take Care of Business: Give your employers ample time to complete your Record of Employment and to calculate your final pay cheque, which may or may not include vacation pay depending if you took vacation during your employment period. You may also want to ask for a letter of reference so that you have a record for future employment opportunities.

Above all, treat your employers with respect. Although an employer-employee relationship exists, your family not only provided you with an excellent job opportunity, but also welcomed you into their home and their lives. Receiving you open work permit is worth celebrating, but not at the expense of the people you’ve spent two years or more, caring for.

Contact International Nannies and Homecare Ltd if you have further questions.

Live-in caregivers waiting longer to be reunited with families.

(Photograph
by Les Bazso, Vancouver Sun)

When Maria Rabino left her family in the Philippines to come to Canada as a live-in caregiver, she imagined her three children would join her in a few years, in time for high school.

That was 2005. Seven years later, Rabino’s eldest — just 10 when she left — is almost old enough for university and Rabino still has no idea how long it will take for the family to be reunited.

Rabino’s expectation was not an unreasonable one. Live-in caregivers come to Canada
from abroad to care for children or seniors. After they have completed 24 months of work in the field, they are eligible to apply for both an open work permit, which allows them to work in any field, and permanent resident status, which enables them to sponsor their families to join them.

Waiting times for open work permits, which used to be up to two years, have been reduced to a few months thanks to changes introduced by the federal government in December, but permanent residence application processing times have increased in recent years, said Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokeswoman Caroline Hickton in a statement.

Figures provided by the department suggest the time it takes to process permanent residence applications for live-in caregivers in Canada increased to 24 months from 21 months between 2010 and 2011; and to 29 months from 24 months for applications processed overseas. This is mainly due to a surge in the number of live-in caregivers who entered Canada between 2007 and 2009, Hickton said, adding the government is cutting the number of caregivers it allows in each year in an effort to deal with the backlog.

But the permanent residence process is taking considerably longer than that, said Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies, whose riding is home to many of the mainly Filipino women who come to Vancouver as live-in caregivers. Most are separated from their families for an average of seven years, he said.

“I miss my children when I go to Ottawa for four days. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be separated from your children and your spouse for years,” he said. “The rate of divorce, the family breakup, the trauma suffered by children, the psychological damage is incredible and well documented.”

The long separation has taken its toll on Rabino’s relationship with her husband and children.

“You could imagine … their teenage years that I am not with them,” Rabino said of her children, now 17, 16 and 13, who she said are constantly asking her when they will move. “It’s so hard … I feel so bad. But, you know, I keep it on myself. I have to fight, I have to survive here for my kids.”

According to the government’s Hickton, Rabino received confirmation she had fulfilled the requirements of the live-in caregiver program in November 2008. The delay in processing her permanent residency application occurred because Rabino was late paying right of permanent residence fees — which Hickton said should have been submitted with her initial permanent residence application — and responding to government requests for information.

Rabino disputes that, emphasizing that she and her family were always watching for any communication from the Canadian government and responded to requests right away.

The immigration department confirmed receipt of her permanent residence fee in November 2011, but by that time Rabino’s background check — valid for a year — had expired and visas for the family could not be issued, Hickton said.

During the waiting period, the family’s immigration medical exams — also valid for a year — expired twice. The family’s passports also expired during this time.

The medical exams cost $100 per person and require the family to make an overnight trip to the city in the Philippines, Rabino said.

Immigration Canada requested that the family undergo a third medical exam in April, according to Hickton.

“Currently, CIC is waiting on the results of the new background check for Ms. Rabino. As well, the mission in Manila has requested that Ms. Rabino’s dependants undergo new [medical exams] and renew their passports.”

Live-in caregivers say such bureaucratic delays are typical. Some have started a petition, signed by more than 1,000 people, calling on the government of Canada to cut the red tape that keeps families separated and to shorten the processing times for permanent residence applications.

In an effort to reduce the strain on families posed by long periods of separation, the NDP advocates allowing caregivers’ families to come to Canada with them and that anyone over 16 be granted work permits, Davies said, noting that the live-in caregiver program is Canada’s only temporary-worker stream deliberately designed to result in permanent residence.

“You know that the woman … is going to sponsor her husband and children,” he said. “You know they’re coming. The only question, policy wise, is when.”

Caregivers should have the option of accepting less money if they choose to live off-site with their own families, since they are not taking room and board from their employers, Davies said.

But Hickton said this would defeat the purpose of the program.

“The live-in requirement is important to employers in need of this service since live-in caregivers offer the highest flexibility of care. The people that live-in caregivers assist often have special needs and may require their services during unusual hours or on short notice,” she said.

By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun

June 2, 2012

[email protected]/tarajcarman

If you would like to hire a nanny or caregiver, please contact International Nanny and Homecare Ltd. in Canada for qualified nannies.

 

Minimum wage hikes and unintended consequences

Unpaid working hours, outstanding overtime, lack of statutory holiday and vacation pay were all realities experienced by caregivers in 2011.
According to British Columbia’s Ministry of Labour, 21 complaints were received last year from domestic workers filing grievances for problems with compensation from employers.
Many of those caregivers earn minimum wage, which goes up 75 cents to $10.25 an hour on May 1 — the last of three scheduled increases. Caregivers in Vancouver are looking forward to the increased pay but fearful of how this raise may affect their livelihoods.
With pressures of increased costs, some employers could be forced to put their children in daycare or terminate their domestic worker. Caregivers worry that they may be expected to work additional unpaid hours to keep their jobs or that their hours could be reduced.
“My employer tells me that I am more expensive than the monthly mortgage,” says Lala, a local caregiver who followed her family from Hong Kong to Vancouver. “I write all my hours I work but they don’t give me the right overtime pay.”
Lala is not alone. Domestic workers feel vulnerable when speaking out about unpaid wages. Caregivers are required to work for two years, or 3,900 hours, before they are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada. During this two-year period, they may only work for one employer. Fearful that they may be sent home if they voice concerns over lost wages, domestic workers prefer to stay silent.
Ai Li Lim, staff lawyer and executive director of the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association (WCDWA), has strong concerns about the effects of the minimum wage increase.
“The caregivers should not be expected to bear the burden of this wage increase through increased costs for their room and board,” she said. “The government could provide other options to offset the costs, like an increased family tax credit.”
A few months ago, the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association received anonymous emails from caregiver employers expressing strong concern about the rising wage. “Some employers called us to ask if caregivers have rights,” said Alisha Bell, an independent contractor working with WCDWA.
The issue of domestic workers lodging complaints against their employers is a complex one. Caregivers often live with the family, eat meals together and take care of the children for years at a time. Domestic workers simultaneously provide money to their families back home, making the pressure to keep their job in Canada intense.
Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore said she has had visits from local caregivers.
“I have not heard any complaints from the employers of domestic workers, but we do have caregivers visit my office concerned about payments from their employers,” she said. Elmore refers the domestic workers to non-profit groups such as WCDWA or the Employment Standards Branch.
Mary, a caregiver from the Philippines, said she has worked for an employer she claims did not pay her for hours worked. “I put the kids to bed in the evening, the parents go out and I am expected to watch the kids while they sleep. I do not get paid for this time,” she said.
One alternative is a monitoring body that could make monthly reviews to ensure workers are paid for their hours.
“We recommended to Citizenship and Immigration Canada that a reporting system should be put in place to keep a close eye on employers and make sure caregivers are paid proper wages,” said Manuela Gruber Hersch, the general manager of International Nannies & Homecare in Vancouver.
There is an obvious solution to this dilemma. Both federal and provincial governments should commit to assisting Canadian families with the cost of care for their loved ones.
That means ensuring caregivers are paid fairly so that they can continue working. It also means that Canadian families should be better supported to pay their caregivers.
Sacha DeVoretz is the founder and editor-in-chief of GlobalImmigrantNews.com. Based in North Vancouver, the website provides a voice to immigration issues around the world.
Vancouver Sun April 17, 2012
If you would like to hire a nanny or caregiver, please contact International Nanny and Homecare Ltd. in Canada for qualified nannies.

Mixed Reactions to Changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program

Changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program reaction:

Live-in caregivers in Canada now have an opportunity to get open work permits about 18 months sooner. On Dec. 15, 2011, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced the change, but reaction from the caregiver community has been mixed.

The open visa will allow caregivers to live out of their employer’s home, find another job in a different field and allow them to have more than one job or employer. Caregivers can use their skills in a field in which they may have education and experience from their home country.  A benefit of the change is they can potentially increase their income by working part-time for other employers.

“They can also negotiate for better wages other than minimum wage because they are not tied (by contract) to one employer,” says Lorina Serafico, secretary treasurer of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers’ and Caregivers’ Rights (CDWCR). “For some married women who need more funds to finance the processing of their family’s immigration papers and settlement to Canada, this ability to earn more is especially helpful and may even allow them to reunite with their family faster.”

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) gives Canadian families the opportunity to hire workers from overseas to provide care to a child, an elderly person or an adult with disabilities when there is a confirmed shortage of Canadians available to work in those positions. Caregivers are required to work for two years, or 3,900 hours, and then they are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Before this new change, live-in caregivers would be forced to wait for an initial approval on their application for permanent residence before being eligible for an open work permit. This meant they had little choice in their employment situations. An open work permit allows the caregiver to move out of their employer’s home and look for jobs with another employer.

 

Caregiver concerns

Despite the promise of increased earnings, there are some concerns about the new announcement. “My worry is that CIC may take longer to process permanent resident applications now that caregivers will obtain open work permits more quickly,” says Ai Li Lim executive director for the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association. “While it is a definite improvement, the ultimate end goal [for many caregivers] is to obtain PR status, which an open work permit does not provide.”

While the live-in caregiver program is a temporary program, if the participants fulfill the requirements of their contracts adequately, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence, and then sponsor their own families to Canada.

Serafico is a pioneer member of CDWCR, which first formed in 1992. “Prior to this announcement, our organization has sent letters to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to encourage these types of changes, so this is a good start.”

“We look at the program on a continual basis,” says Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. “This change happened as an evolution of the program.”

Some of the other improvements the Government of Canada has made to the program in recent years include: allowing live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized; the elimination of the need for a second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence; and defining the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver’s travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance and third-party representative fees.

 

Program improves, numbers decline

While the program has been improving, the number of caregivers entering the program has been on a decline since 2007.

“Based on our experience, the decline results from changes to regulations and policies that discourage employers to hire them, usually the length of time to process and the costs associated with it, especially if coming from Manila or New Delhi,” says Serafico.

The increasing requirements to qualify under the program could also be a reason for the decline in numbers.  The recent change in 2008 by the Philippine government requiring an “addendum” to the contract between Canadian employers and Filipino caregivers could be one of the factors.

The terms of this contract with employers in Canada and caregivers coming from the Philippines require that the employer be responsible for the cost of transportation to and from Canada, health coverage for the employee (before the provincial health insurance applies), termination of employment only for just cause and more.

Regardless of the dwindling participation in the program, the changes could have significant potential for future caregivers according to Serafico, “The Live-in Caregiver Program is an important one and it is an opportunity for women to come to Canada. Now with the new open visa, caregivers will be able to work more and contribute added money to their families back home or maybe be reunited with their families in Canada sooner.”

Still a concern for Lim is the application process for permanent residency. “We have been advocating for landed status immediately for caregivers. This new development may slow down the PR application process. We will have to wait and see how that plays out.”

From: www.canadianimmigrant.ca

By Sacha Devoretz

If you would like to hire a nanny or caregiver please contact International Nanny and Homecare Ltd in Canada.