Advocates, parents, employment agencies to be asked for opinion on foreign caregiver issue
Toronto Star,July 13, 2009
The province is beginning public consultations on a new law promising to protect foreign caregivers from the kind of exploitation documented in a Star investigation earlier this year.
The Ministry of Labour's much anticipated consultation paper solicits views from caregivers, advocates, employment agency owners and parents on what the new law should look like.
Beginning this week, the ministry is also hosting meetings with stakeholders, spokesman Bruce Skeaff said.
"The Ontario government has become aware that temporary foreign workers are often charged thousands of dollars by recruiters for a job offer in Ontario," the paper reads. "Sometimes the employer's offer is not genuine, even though it was approved by the federal government."
When caregivers arrive in Canada to learn they have no employer, they face immigration and income problems that make them "ripe for exploitation," it says.
Among the key issues on the table: Should the government license and regulate employment agencies? Should agency placement fees charged to prospective foreign nannies be banned? Should parents have the right to change the terms or conditions of an employment contract with a foreign nanny once they begin working in Canada?
Views from the public on those questions will assist ministry staff in formulating new foreign caregiver legislation promised in April by Minister of Labour Peter Fonseca.
Manitoba already has legislation protecting foreign caregivers in that province.
But Ontario receives by far the most foreign nannies under the federal live-in caregiver program.
The proposed new legislation was triggered by the Star investigation, which found widespread abuse of the program by unscrupulous recruiters and employers in Ontario.
Following the Star investigation, Fonseca said he intends to introduce legislation this fall.
The province has already set up a hotline to receive complaints of abuse from caregivers. Last year, about 67,000 temporary foreign workers were admitted to Canada, many of those foreign nannies.