August 8, 2014
Toronto, Ontario – A recent Toronto Star article written on July 22nd titled ‘Filipino Canadians fear end of immigrant dreams for nannies’ outlined the Conservative government’s possible changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) given Jason Kenney’s racist and anti-immigrant remarks that the program is being used and ‘abused’ as it has ‘mutated’ into a program of family reunification for Filipinos in Canada. As such, some organizations within the Filipino Canadian community expressed their fears and outrage that possible changes to the LCP, which recruits 90% of its participants from the Philippines, means the end of the LCP as a pathway to permanent residency for foreign nannies. The National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC) condemns Kenney’s allegations that criminalize live-in caregivers and the community at large. We challenge all community members to go beyond casting themselves as figures of victimization amidst these possible changes. Let us uphold our dignity as a people by objectively examining the LCP and the Conservative government’s rhetoric in light of its continuing neoliberal assault on working class, racialised and migrant communities in Canada.
Created in 1992, the Live-In Caregiver Program along with the Foreign Domestic Movement (FDM) of the 1980s has recruited more than 100,000 Filipino women to become domestic workers and is Canada’s response for its childcare and elderly care crisis. The LCP’s hook for permanent residency has always been the justification to mask the structural exploitation and violence perpetrated against women in the program. This fact cannot be denied given the countless cases of abuse, deportation and human trafficking widely publicized in the mainstream media and evidently seen in the day-to-day struggles of live-in caregivers in meeting the program’s stringent requirements for a chance to acquire permanent resident status.
With the LCP under review, any planned changes to this labour program need to be understood in a similar situation when the Conservative government employed a rhetoric of fear and xenophobia against refugees, parent/grandparents’ sponsorships, and temporary foreign workers. Labelling these groups as taking advantage of or being a drain to the Canadian economy before implementing major overhauls that either restrict or further marginalise these groups of people, is all part of a deliberate effort to stir anti-immigrant and racist sentiments to turn the Canadian public against them.
‘We are not surprised by these possible changes to the LCP. Nor are we surprised by Jason Kenney’s statements of accusing live-in caregivers and the Filipino Canadian community for using the program for family reunification. This is yet another tactic of the Conservative government to criminalize and demonize another marginalised group before they implement devastating changes that will further exploit and strip the fundamental rights of already vulnerable sectors of the population.’ says Joy Sioson, Chairperson of the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario.
As part of its overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) two months ago, the Conservative government already changed the LCP application fee from $275 to $1000**. This change alone demonstrates that the Canadian immigration system has really ‘mutated’ into a profit-driven enterprise. ‘We have seen time and time again that the Conservative government lacks any concern whatsoever when it comes to the plight of the working class, migrant and new immigrant communities. Just like the major overhauls in the TFWP, any planned changes to the LCP will be in line with the government’s neoliberal agenda of creating a steady and permanent supply of temporary, cheap, flexible and vulnerable workers to maximize profits.’ says Bryan Taguba, Secretary-General of SIKLAB, a Filipino Canadian Workers Organization.
We must not forget that the LCP has, and continues to create the context for the Filipino Canadian community’s continuing underdevelopment, poverty, and marginalization in all aspects of Canadian society. As progressive Filipino Canadians, we have never accepted this pathway that has been reserved for our community. We remain firm in our call to scrap the LCP and demand for genuine immigration programs that will respect the rights and dignity of all transnational women and workers who come to Canada.
** The Labour Market Opinion went up from $275 to $1000 earlier this year
Scrap the anti-woman and racist LCP! Universal childcare now!
Expose and oppose neoliberal policies!
End the exploitation, march for women’s equality, rights and genuine development!
Advance the movement for genuine settlement and integration!
For more information, contact
The Philippine Women Centre-Ontario