Canada axes $1,000 fee for hiring foreign caregivers
RED DEER, Alberta – Canada is eliminating the $1,000 market test fee for hiring foreign caregivers, to help middle-income Canadian families and individuals with physical or mental disabilities.
The fee, also known as the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) has been heavily criticized by immigrant rights advocates as an undue obstacle to labor migration and for increasing the risk of abuse and overall burden to foreign caregivers and employers.
The government made the announcement on December 27, following a move to enhance the 2017 federal budget towards improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
In 2017, an improved budget to the TFWP led to the elimination of the LMIA fee exclusively for middle income families seeking to hire caregivers and for those needing care for persons with high medical needs.
spokesman, told INQUIRER.net that the measure would help more Canadians support their loved ones.
The move supports “those most in need of financial assistance, by removing the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers to provide child care for individuals and families making less than $150,000 and to provide care for those who are incapable for caring for themselves due to a physical or mental condition,” he said.
The fee exemption for these two groups was contained in the Minister of Labor, Workforce and Development Hon. Patty Hajdu’s mandate letter dated February 2, 2017.
Although the rule was made official only December 27, the implementation began on December 8, Simard said.
Middle income families
The ceiling of $150,000 household gross annual income is in alignment with the Government of Canada’s priority to support middle-income families to meet their caregiving needs, explained Simard.
Meanwhile, those who seek foreign caregivers to provide care for individuals incapable of caring for themselves will be required to submit a medical certificate at the time of application.
While accessibility to the program has become easier, the government will maintain safeguards against potential abuses from employers and foreign workers.
“Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) takes the integrity of the TFW Program very seriously and works to promote the protection of the Canadian labor market and foreign workers alike,” said Simard.
The program requires that employers meet the specific requirements to hire foreign workers and uphold conditions set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation.
Caregivers’ Action Center’s Anna Malla welcomes the improvements to the TFW program.
“We welcome any move that will remove barriers for caregivers to access gainful employment. Since the announcement, caregivers have been expressing relief that the $1,000 LMIA fee will be removed for middle income families and families seeking caregivers for loved ones with high medical needs or disability,” said Malla.
However, she expressed concerns that removing the LMIA fee for certain families does not address the various issues they face specifically around the LMIA and work permit process, including the long wait times and frequent rejections.
“This change also does not address the fundamental issue of precarious immigration status that caregivers experience — until this has changed, caregivers will not have full access to their rights,” she said.
High risk of abuse
“Migrant caregivers face high risk of abuse in the program due to the fact that they do not come to Canada with Permanent Residency Status upon arrival, and due to lack of adequate protections federally and provincially against recruitment agencies and to ensure fair and safe working conditions,” she added.
Malla identified permanent status upon arrival as “the only solution for caregivers and employers.” The group is advocating for open work permits or even sectoral permits.
Canada’s aging population and the absence of national childcare policy allow labor shortage in caregiving work to persist in the long-term, said Malla.
“The individuated LMIA process is not only redundant; it harms caregivers’ ability to change jobs when facing abuse. Until such a time when caregivers have PR on landing, we need open permits,” she said.