Exploitation of Overseas Nannies and Caregivers Could Continue Despite New Canadian Immigration Laws

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Unethical job agencies regularly charge overseas nannies and caregivers up to $10,000 to be placed in minimum wage jobs in Canada. Sometimes these carers do not even have a job when they get to the country. New legislation designed to stop this exploitation has been passed, but one Vancouver-based business owner says problems could persist.

"I have been in this business for a long time and I've always wondered why nothing has been done about this."

New federal legislation coming into force on April 1, 2010 will make it illegal for employment agencies in Canada to extract huge up-front fees from overseas live-in nannies and caregivers looking to find work here.

"Sometimes they don't even have a job when they get to Canada," said Janet MacDonald, president of OptiMum Childcare and Nannies. "I have been in this business for a long time and I've always wondered why nothing has been done about this. It seems the government has only taken notice now due to recent negative publicity."

For over 21 years MacDonald has been linking overseas live-in nannies and carers with host families in Canada free of charge.

Instead of charging a placement fee, OptiMum's live-in nanny and caregiver database gives Canadian families free access to profiles of qualified overseas caregivers that want to work in Canada. If the family wants to contact the caregiver they pay a registration fee of $65. The website provides them with the tools to screen and negotiate with the nanny themselves.

Not only is it free for live-in nannies and senior caregivers to register on http://www.opti-mum.com, but it is cost effective for the families searching for a caregiver, who could otherwise be charged thousands of dollars for a placement.

While MacDonald thinks the upcoming immigration changes will help overseas caregivers, she has concerns that unethical agencies will find a way around the new legislation and the Optimum President has been in contact with Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) to voice these concerns.

"In BC and Alberta it is currently illegal to charge overseas caregivers a placement fee, but I know there are agencies in those provinces that work with affiliate agencies in other countries. Those foreign affiliates charge the caregiver a fee in their home country then share it with the Canadian agency.

"Citizen and Immigration Canada are aware of this problem and are attempting to solve it. Improved screening of caregivers in their home countries by the CIC may be one way to prevent further exploitation."

Notes To Editors

  • OptiMum Childcare and Nannies Inc. is based in North Vancouver, BC. The company's president, Janet MacDonald is a Human Resources professional with over 20 years of experience in the nanny industry. Many overseas caregivers come from the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
  • For interviews with Janet or more information on this story please contact Jimmy Edge at Standard Marketing on 604-224-3921 / jimmy(at)standardmarketing(dot)ca or Janet MacDonald on 604-671-4965.
  • The changes will make it easier for live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence in Canada and will include:
  •     eliminating the second medical exam before becoming a permanent resident
  •     allowing live-in caregivers who work overtime to apply for permanent residence sooner
  •     increasing the time that live-in caregivers and nannies are allowed to complete the work requirement for permanent residence from three to four years.
  • The new immigration regulations are available on the OptiMum website, http://www.opti-mum.com or at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/apply-who-caregiver.asp .

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Jimmy Edge

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