Justice served for Montreal live-in caregiver after long and arduous fight

2010-01-27
A Filipino caregiver finally received favourable judgement two years after filing a law suit against her employer in Quebec court for defamation. As a temporary worker in Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program, her experience is but one example of the oppressive and exploitative situations that caregivers can endure.


The caregiver approached PINAY, a Filipino woman’s organization in Quebec for assistance in March 2006. She was unceremoniously fired by her employer and was not given proper notice. A complaint was submitted to the Commission des normes du travail (CNT) for unpaid overtime. During the investigation process the employer agreed to a settlement. At this time, the caregiver applied for employment insurance while she looked for another employer. Human Resource refused her application for employment insurance because of the specificity of the employer written on her work permit. PINAY with the assistance of law students and legal counsel assisted her in contesting HRSDC’s decision and requested her case to be heard by a board of referee. She was represented by Me. Francois Cyr from Ouillet, Nadon Lawyers Collective.  She was eventually handed a favourable decision.
The worst situation she found herself in was when she lost her dignity and reputation when she found out that a statement has been made against her without solid basis. This experience made her decides to fight her violated right in court and lead to this favourable judgment handed down by Quebec Court.
A recent announcement by minister of Immigration, Jason Kenny, outlined the changes the government is putting forward for the Live-in Caregiver Program.  The changes are intended to improve the lives and working conditions of foreign live-in caregivers in Canada.  After decades of painstaking advocacy work and organizing campaign demanding that the government of Canada take action to address the abuse and exploitation faced by many live-in caregivers, PINAY along with Filipino community organizations, other Canadians across the country see these recent announcements as step forward. But PINAY believes that much of the changes need more scrutiny as they do not touch the core of the problem inherent within the program. The changes do not outline, for instance, how these new laws are to be enforced and how employers and placement agencies are to be monitored to ensure that the abuses stop.  Without any assurance that the abusive conditions can no longer occur in the private homes of employers, extending the amount of years for caregivers to gain 24 months of live-in work (which is a proposed change supposedly to address the issue of many LCP workers not being able to finish this requirement within the allotted 3 year period) is tantamount to extending their stay in purgatory and potentially extending the amount of time they must endure oppressive situations.  

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Then there is the responsibility of the sending countries, like the Philippine government who is responsible for the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers and their failure to provide protection for their rights and welfare. The $14+ billion remittance that Filipino migrants send home each year is like manna from heaven for countries like the Philippines who are mired in foreign debt. Remittances from migrants are huge income for governments and the Philippine government needs this for debt.  So instead of creating meaningful jobs and development for the country, Philippines have whole-heartedly implemented its labour export as a policy.
Migration is now being touted as the model for international development; you can hear this being peddled in inter-government venues like the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that will be holding its fourth international meeting in Mexico in November of this year.  But while western governments “harmonize” their immigration policies to suit their labour needs, the cost of the globalized trade in labourers has its impact for the people of the global south.  Take this caregiver who had to fight to clear her name for example and multiply her experience by millions, add on sexual and physical assault along with the dehumanizing psychological terror she endured and you will get the sum of the human cost that this model of “development” imposes on the working poor.
 
Ref; Evelyn Calugay (514) 364-9833 or pinacan@yahoo.com   

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One Response to “Justice served for Montreal live-in caregiver after long and arduous fight”

  1. Bryon Harris Says:

    Really awesome post! Honest!

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