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From ‘migrant’ to ‘citizen’: Learning from the experiences of former caregivers transitioning out of the Live-in Caregiver Program

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Gabriela Transitions Experience Survey (GATES) Preliminary Analysis
Gabriela Ontario; Ryerson University & York University
Publication Date: 
22 Jul 2014

About the project:

The Gabriela Transitions Experiences Survey (GATES) is a community-led national survey of 631 current and former live-in caregivers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, with financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. GATES was initiated in 2011 by former live-in caregivers in Gabriela Ontario to gather information about the experiences of the Filipina women who are transitioning to life as Canadians after completing their Live-In Caregiver Program requirements.

There is the expectation among policymakers and live-in caregivers that live-in caregivers' lives in Canada improve upon the acquisition of Canadian permanent residency and Canadian citizenship. However, we know from previous studies that newcomers to Canada face barriers to their integration,
such as the devaluation of foreign education and work experience as well as issues of family separation. GATES is the first largescale study in Canada to systematically investigate the barriers impeding live-in caregivers' settlement in Canada.

Key Research Questions

1. What is the demographic profile of former live-in caregivers?
2. How were they recruited to come into Canada?
3. How long did it take for their permanent residency applications to get processed?
4. What factors prevent former live-in caregivers from integrating fully into Canada?
5. What is the occupational profile of former live-in caregivers? What are their career goals?
6. How do live-in caregivers' family members fare in Canada?

How do they get to Canada?

The vast majority of recent caregivers arrive in Canada through employment agencies. The next largest recruitment category is through a direct hire by an employer, not including relatives. Only 1 in 10 caregivers in the last 5 years were recruited by family members.

Lack of occupational mobility

Another key issue raised in the study is former live-in caregivers' lack of occupational mobility despite their advanced educational credentials. 68% remain working as caregivers 3 to 5 years after leaving the program. Because most caregiving positions do not provide benefits and lack security, caregivers are placed in a precarious employment situation.

Preliminary conclusions:

1. The 24 month live-in work requirement that ties live-in caregivers to their
employers exacerbates live-in caregivers' vulnerability.
2. Prohibitions against live-in caregivers' ability to take part-time courses while under the LCP increases deskilling.
3. There are higher barriers to entry for live-in caregivers entering the job market because of the stigma associated with live-in care work.
4. Extended periods of family separation and the difficulties of family reunification impede the integration of live-in caregivers and their families to Canada.
5. a. There is a lack of settlement services geared for live-in caregivers.
    b. Inconvenient locations and hours make it difficult for live-in caregivers to access these services.