SLCBC Goes to Caucus!

Stephen Fuhr, MP, Kelowna-Lake Country

In Vancouver, Thursday, January 26th, SLCBC representatives will meet with the 17 members of the BC Federal Liberal Caucus for an information-sharing session on live-in care options for seniors; presented by President, Rabi Alam, National Policy Chair, Doug McDonald, and Senior Rep, Kelowna-Lake Country (K-LC), Judy Berg (Chair, In-Home Policy Working Group) at the invitation of K-LC MP Stephen Fuhr. Recommended by Senior Rep, Elaine Olson, Abbotsford, a working group was established to investigate 2014 policy changes to the In-Home Caregiver Program. Our presentation will introduce our issues in advance of presenting the report to Minister Hajdu, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. 

Elaine has over 30 years experience administering the federal government caregiver program and first-hand knowledge of the negative impact the changes have had on seniors. Under the umbrella of Policy Chair, Doug McDonald, a working group was formed including: Judy Berg, Chair, Elaine Olson and Jean Lewandowski. Resources and advisors were Luke Lewandowski who researched  data on demographics and costs; Manuela Gruber Hersch, Director of the Association of Caregivers and Nanny Agencies Canada (ACNA) and General Manager International Nannies and HomeCare Ltd; and Marilyn Bachman, 4 year former client of the Live-In Caregiver program and unapproved applicant post-2014. As Chair, I wish to thank all these people for the excellent work that has been done to date.

Most telling about the impact of the 2014 policy changes are the stats – a drop in applications from 3715 during Q4 in 2014 (pre-policy change) to 2316 during Q4 in 2015 and 2039 during Q2 in 2016. Successful applications declined 45% from 3421 during Q4 2014 to 1699 during Q2 in 2016. The number of rejected applications increased from 7.5% during Q4, 2014 to 17% during Q2, 2016. Not only are fewer applications being processed but more are being rejected at significant cost to clients. Application costs soared from $250 to $1,000, and are not returned to unsuccessful applicants with a total of 1.7 million in fees retained by government!

Caregivers from offshore have played a vital role in Canadian history going back to the early 1900s.The first wave of caregivers served as nannies, coming primarily from Europe and were granted permanent residency upon arrival. Post-war 1945, source countries expanded to include Barbados and Jamaica, where caregivers were considered temporary labour and not granted residency. Public outcry to what seemed like racial discrimination led Pearson to introduce a point system for immigration intended to end preferences to European source countries.

In 1973 policy changes again shifted the direction of the program; considered the workers as temporary and housed the program under a Temporary Employment Authorization. This made it harder for live-in workers to qualify and because the policy ignored care work as a permanent workforce shortage, the program failed to address caregiving needs. A crisis in 1976 arising from the deportation of ‘The Seven Jamaican Mothers’ and public demonstrations led to a recognition that caregiving is a permanent workforce shortage in Canada and that permanent residency and a right to family reunification should be entrenched in the program.

By 1982 the Liberal government entrenched the rights to PR and family reunification after 2 years for qualified applicants.

In 2014, the Conservative government turned back the clock to what is reminiscent of 1973. The program was placed under the Temporary Worker Program, belying the permanent demand and giving priority to Live-out as a way to address what were deemed to be abuses. Most applications for live-in caregivers are now being denied.

Our working group was determined to approach this from the client perspective. Changing demographics are shifting the focus from nannies to seniors and adults with disabilities; an option that allows for aging-in-place with maximum control and dignity retained by the client. The population of British Columbia over 65yo is increasing at 4 times the rate of the under 65 age group. By 2030, the Business Council of BC Report 2015, estimates that in locations such as the Similkameen, there will be 82 people over the age of 65 for every 100 working-age persons.

The report also states that by 2027 the natural growth in BC will be NIL. Population growth will happen only as a result of immigration or migration. There is already a shortage of care options for seniors and the idea of doing a Labour Market Information Analysis prior to granting work permits to prove there are no Canadians to do the work is ludicrous. Most seniors say they would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Aging-in-Place is an oft-used term but it lacks support systems to allow for this. Canadians have not wanted these live-in jobs for over 100 years! We are in need of caregivers; and we are in need of immigration to grow or even sustain our population. We approached the topic from the reality of the end user.

On the 26th we will inform BC`s MPs of the history of the Caregiver program and its potential, as a partial solution, to these emerging trends. Later, we plan to present Minister Hajdu, Employment, Workforce Adjustment and Labour with our report to be considered by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Temporary Workers; and to be taken into account on the commitments made in the 2015 Liberal Platform that relate to home care, palliative care and live-in care giving.

Watch this space!



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Anna Terrana
Anna Terrana
4 years ago

Thank you. I am interested.

Anna Terrana, Liberal MP for Vancouver East (1993-1997)