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State policy and the migration of foreign domestic workers to Canada: The migration of Filipina nannies to Vancouver, British Columbia




Jeanne M. Mikita


Thousands of Filipino women have migrated to Canada over the past decade to work as live-in caregivers in Canadian households. The labour of Filipina caregivers--straddling as it does both the realms of production and social reproduction--fits poorly in established views of international migration that rest on traditional concepts of the division of labour within a global capitalist system. As well, a feminist perspective is necessary to highlight the subordinate status of reproductive work and to assess the impact of state policy in perpetuating entrenched gender roles. The current federal Live-In Caregiver (LIC) program is only the most recent example of a state initiative to secure domestic workers; unsettling similarities exist between this program and questionable past policies. As a complementary source of data, a survey was carried out of 144 Filipina domestic workers in Vancouver, B.C. The questionnaire responses highlight the motivations that prompted these women to leave the Philippines and seek employment in Canada and clearly identify the impact of government policy on migration. The survey findings indicate that the opportunity for possible landed status presented within the LIC program served as a key incentive in most respondents' decisions to come to Canada. (No other country allows for permanent immigration of foreign domestic workers). Therefore, the Canadian state not only sets the legislation to facilitate the migration and employment of domestic workers but, as well, plays an influential role in drawing significant numbers of Filipina caregivers to Canada. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)


Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Place published


File Attachments


Economic sectors

Occupations in services - Domestic work

Content types

Policy analysis

Regulation domains

Right to change employer, Right to choose place of residence, Right to unionize, Labour standards, Health and safety at work, Newcomers integration programs, Health care & social services, Access to permanent status, and Family reunification

Geographical focuses

British Columbia

Spheres of activity

Geography, Law, and Political science