According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, more than 150,000 foreign workers enter the country every year to work temporarily in jobs that help Canadian employers address skill shortages, or to work as live-in caregivers.
The federal Live-In Caregiver Program was created to address shortages for child and elder care. Most of the foreign workers who enter Canada under this program are Filipinos, and most work as nannies.
The sight of a Filipino nanny with young charges in tow is ubiquitous in GTA parks, libraries and drop-in centres. Many of these nannies are the key money-earners for their families back home in the Philippines.
After two years working here, most nannies qualify to apply for permanent resident status, a step on the road to eventual Canadian citizenship. For many, the goal is to sponsor their families as would-be immigrants, in hope of family reunification in Canada.
Melchizedek Maquiso followed this familiar path. After childhood with his academic parents in the university and science city of Munoz, about four hours north of Manila, Maquiso lived in various Manila suburbs. In 2007, at age 27, he came here to work as a nanny.
“I’m not the only one. I’ve met other male nannies,” laughs Maquiso. His was an easier landing than most encounter; Maquiso’s young charge was his own nephew, then age 4. His employer was his older sister, who had previously immigrated to the United States and then Canada, and was about to launch her own business in York Region. She now lives in Stouffville.
So unlike many, Maquiso’s decision to head to Canada wasn’t driven by brutal necessity. He already had a “fairly decent” job in Manila and was financially independent. His motivation was to help his sister — and, eventually, pursue a post-secondary education abroad.
“Each nanny has a unique story to tell, from being the sole breadwinner of the family to a carefree individual seeking greener pastures for herself in Canada,” says Maquiso, who now has permanent resident status here. “The decision to work in Canada is already a significant deviation from the concept of family in the Philippine setting, where living with generations of family members under one roof and where adult working children still live with their parents are common practices.
“Whatever their reasons are for choosing to work here, all of them are unanimous in one thing — they would like to be reunited with their families who literally live thousands of miles and an ocean away.”
Maquiso is set to graduate this spring from the photojournalism program at Belleville’s Loyalist College. He aspires to create visual documentaries on social issues, particularly East-West relationships: “Third World issues and relationships with industrialized countries, as seen through the people involved in it.”
Maquiso images illustrate that theme handsomely, while presenting a rare inside look at the reality of dual-world existence for thousands of hard-working GTA residents and the families they serve, here and at home.
— Dan Smith
If you would like a nanny or caregiver job in Canada please contact our International Nanny agency.