Stop CBSA’s ‘Project Guardian’
MIGRANTE BC·SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2016
Domestic work is still one of the lowest paid, the most undervalued, and the least protected form of employment. This is work that is done by the world’s 67 million people, mostly women.
Of that number, 11.5 million are migrant domestic workers scattered all around the globe, including Canada.
Five years ago, on June 16, 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers, the set of international standards that recognizes domestic work as work and the first to do so. Also known as Convention 189 (C 189), it declares that domestic workers have equal rights, protection, and recognition as other workers.
These include, among others, the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining; the right to a minimum wage; the right to have at least one day off per week and reasonable hours of work; and the right to clear information on terms and conditions of employment.
This was a historic step towards having countries and governments recognize domestic work as work like any other. It entered into force on September 5, 2013 after two countries ratified the Convention. Twenty countries have since ratified the Convention. And Canada? Canada has not ratified the Convention.
Canada continues to rely on caregivers and domestic workers to help care for Canada’s children, its elderly, its sick and people with disabilities.
Canada continues to profit from the contributions of domestic workers to its economy and from the taxes that these workers pay – and yet Canada continues to put these domestic workers in very vulnerable and precarious situations.
The recent changes in the Live-in Caregivers Program, effective November 30, 2014, have had negative impacts on the caregivers and domestic workers.
One of these impacts, reported by www.unionresearch.org , is that only one in ten applications from caregivers for permanent residency status has been approved by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a factor that the makes the social cost of family separation more severe, difficult and painful.
And in keeping caregivers and domestic workers in conditions akin to indentured servitude, Canada’s Border Service Agency (CBSA) continues with its Project Guardian.
Project Guardian is a pilot project in BC and the Yukon which targets caregivers in their employers’ homes for alleged misuse of the caregiver program. Based on tips and referrals, the CBSA has unfairly targeted caregivers leading to “removals” or deportations.
Specific work permits that tie caregivers to their employers render domestic workers vulnerable when they are let go/or when they leave their employers.
And Project Guardian has cruelly targeted vulnerable women especially stuck in that transitory period where a new employer is being sought and work permits are being processed again.
Project Guardian has to stop.
What better way to recognize domestic work as work than for the Canadian government to have them enter Canada as permanent residents, which is a solid pathway to Canadian citizenship.