iWorkers welcome federal committee deliberation over changes to immigration law

    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - iWorkers, the Independent Workers
Association-Homeworkers Section, has welcomed the start of deliberation on
changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) by the federal
Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    The changes, put forward by NDP MP Olivia Chow, will among other things
ensure a fair immigration process to workers seeking permanent residence under
the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).
    An amendment to section 38(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act (IRPA) would include members of the Live-in Caregivers Class on the list
of foreign nationals exempted from the "excessive demand" ground of
    The proposed amendment is known as the Juana Tejada Law after the case of
a live-in caregiver who came to Canada after passing a rigorous medical exam
but was refused permanent residence and ordered deported after contracting a
serious illness. Juana Tejada developed colon cancer and was denied twice by
Canadian immigration authorities before finally being allowed to stay
permanently following a vigorous public campaign on her behalf.
    The proposed amendment would recognize that, if a caregiver has done her
work and paid her taxes, she should be entitled to permanent resident status
under the Live-in Caregiver Class after at least two years of working here, no
matter what her medical condition is. The current immigration laws must be
changed so that they do not disqualify hardworking caregivers from becoming
permanent residents, only because they develop a medical condition that is
clearly beyond her, or anyone's, control.
    Other proposed changes include:
    - Make LCP participants eligible for the Interim Federal Health plan, to
ensure that they receive adequate health coverage from the day they arrive in
Canada to work, until the day they are granted permanent residence, with no
gaps in coverage at any time. Currently, LCP participants who are in the
process of applying for permanent residence are denied extensions to their
health coverage in Ontario. This lack of coverage could last for many months
notwithstanding the fact that they continue to be legally working in Canada,
and continue to pay their taxes.
    - Significantly reduce current processing times for work permits for new
entrants to the LCP, and for permanent residence to those who are eligible,
including their family members. Canadian families cannot continue to wait the
12-18 months that it takes to process work permits at the Canadian Embassy in
the Philippines, where most caregivers originate. Through the embassy in
India, the wait is even longer, about 30 months.
    Similarly, LCP participants who are eligible to apply for permanent
residence should not be forced to be apart from their families for an
additional 15-22 months that it takes for the Canadian Embassy in the
Philippines to grant visas to overseas family members. In all, caregivers and
their families could be forced apart for at least four years due to processing
delays. Continuing to work under current processing times can be devastating
to caregivers and their families, and goes against IRPA's objective of
reuniting families in Canada.
    - Review how reasonable wages and benefits are determined for LCP
participants. Of all temporary foreign workers under the TFWP, only the wages
of live-in caregivers are set according to the prevailing minimum wage amounts
in each province. These workers provide a significant benefit to Canadians who
are in need of child care, elder care, and care for disabled family members.
It is grossly unfair and exploitative that the value of these workers'
services is set against minimum wage levels.
    The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is scheduled to
consider the changes from now until March 12.
    iWorkers is a collaborative effort of the United Steelworkers union (USW)
and community-based Migrante Ontario

For further information:

For further information: Peter Leibovitch, (416) 278-4123; Rafael
Fabregas, (416) 548-9075

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