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Immigration Canada Caves in the Face of Organizing


After years of tireless organizing by Caregivers Action Centre, Migrante, and many other groups and allies across the country, Immigration Canada extended the number of years within which Live-In Caregivers can apply for permanent status. Minister Kenney also acceded to removing the second medical test required to gain permanent status. This is proof that grassroots organizing can win changes.

Migrants in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver program (LCP), largely women from Caribbean countries and the Phillipines, must currently complete 2 years of domestic work within 3 years in order to apply for permanent status. The changes announced today would extend the time period from 3 to 4 years, and allow caregivers to count the hours worked towards the 2 years, potentially reducing the amount of time to be able to apply for status. The requirement for a second medical test prior to applying for permanent residence has also been removed for caregivers.

Live-In Caregivers and their allies have won a significant victory in ensuring status for migrants. But these changes are not enough. The LCP still ties a person's immigration status to their employer, and continues to exploit women and put them in a vulnerable position based on their status.

The changes came on the eve of new regulations going into effect that would severely limit the ability of most migrants on work programs to gain full status. As of December 9 temporary migrant workers are barred from Canada for six years after living and working in the country for four. Hundreds rallied in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa and thousands signed petitions against these regulatory changes.

The present shift towards a permanently temporary immigration system through the reduction of permanent residents each year, in the cutting of refugee quotas by 60% for 2010 (from 22,000 to 9,000), in the quiet dismantling of the family reunification program and in the greater number of brutal deportations are a continuation of Canada's history of exclusion and exploitation of migrants.

Poor and working migrants from countries that Canada has trade agreements with; where Canadian corporate interests displace people with impunity, or where Canadian armed forces are carrying out an occupation, find little means of coming to Canada outside of temporary work programs. These work programs, through their denial of access to citizenship rights, hurt people and allow employers to divide working people against each other.

Justice demands that all people have the ability to gain full status in Canada upon arrival, anything less is exploitation. Migrants across the country are continuing to organize for justice, for status for all, and bit-by-bit we are winning.