LIVING ON THE EDGE: ADDRESSING EMPLOYMENT GAPS FOR TEMPORARY MIGRANT WORKERS UNDER THE LIVE-IN CAREGIVER PROGRAM
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This study evaluates unemployment gaps experienced by participants under Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) – a program which allows foreign nationals to enter Canada as temporary residents and, if they complete the program requirements, allows them to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. Using data collected from legal files of a Vancouver based community organisation this study examines why some LCP workers experience longer employment gaps than others and what can be done to reduce these gaps. Policy alternatives are drawn from regression analysis and literature from other jurisdictions. To reduce the lengthiest of gaps this study recommends work permits be extended from one to four years. This recommendation is supplemented with additional programming and evaluation options.
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The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is not entirely an immigration program, nor is it entirely a temporary resident program. Designed to meet a currently unfilled demand for live-in work, LCP participants enter Canada as temporary residents with the provision that they can apply for permanent residence from within Canada, provided they complete 24 months of live-in caregiving work within a three year period. LCP participants must live with the employer for whom they work.
Because there is a general shortage of live-in caregivers in the labour market little or no unemployment within the LCP population would be expected. While no formal statistics or studies are available on the unemployment levels of LCP participants during their temporary residence, anecdotal evidence and preliminary results of this research indicate that there are caregivers who experience gaps in employment, sometimes of great length. This report attempts to answer why some LCP workers experience longer employment gaps than others. Employment gaps are an issue of public importance because of the social costs associated with the prominent precarious economic security of caregivers during unemployment, the implications of extending temporary status, and the implications related to a strong will to complete the work requirement.
The research is undertaken in a British Columbian context by looking at data collected from the client files of the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association (WCDWA). The WCDWA is a non-profit community organisation that provides free legal advice for caregivers and domestic workers. A large proportion of their clientele are former or current LCP participants. By accessing legal files dated between April 2004 and December 2004 data is generated to explore the causes of lengthy gaps within a sample of 101 employment gaps experienced by 49 caregivers. These gaps have a wide range and are found to average 168 days. An Ordinary Least Squares regression (OLS) tests 11 variables to explain why some LCP workers experience longer employment gaps than others. In combination, these variables account for just over 19 percent of the variance in the length of an employment gap with the only variable of significance being whether or not an LCP worker lost status.
Building from this finding, descriptive statistics, and other literature, policy alternatives are developed to address the four main reasons that caregivers lost status and the trouble that caregivers have in locating legitimate employers. These alternatives are evaluated using five criteria of cost, effectiveness, political viability, consistency with the goals of the program, and administrative ease. In the end, this study recommends that the LCP program be modified so as to:
Immediately provide minor work permit adjustments, where work permits are valid for 4 years after the date of arrival;
Evaluate the possibility of giving an existing or new organisation a mandate to facilitate employer-employee contracts and provide information and resources similar to that implemented in the Province of Quebec;
Continue with the current levels of information dissemination, but create an evaluative process of the effectiveness of governmental information communication, with the goal of successfully conveying the rules and regulations of the LCP program to its participants and their potential employers
Undertake additional analysis to address the uncertainty that the alternative of “granting permanent residence status upon arrival” has in filling the labour market shortage of live-in caregiving work
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Occupations in services - Domestic work
- Content types
Policy analysis and Statistics on work and life conditions
- Target groups
Researchers and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks
- Geographical focuses
British Columbia and Federal
- Spheres of activity
Law and Social work