Ten thousand “open work permits” have been issued to foreign caregivers across Canada in a move one activist said frees them from bondage and slavery.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s orders came in response to a year-long Toronto Star investigation that found foreign nannies treated as servants and forced to stay with one employer.
Often, their passports were held by the families, who paid wages below the poverty line.
“Finally they are released from bondage, the bondage of poverty, slavery and neglect,” said Terry Olayta, coordinator of the Toronto Caregiver Resource Centre. She said the average nanny nets about $250 a week.
Until the federal immigration department’s move, caregivers had to wait as long as two years for an open permit. Many were kept in abusive and exploitive work situations and forced to live in their employers home long after an original contract ended.
Waiting times for open permits in recent years had gone from just a few weeks to as much as 24 months, Olayta said.
One of the cases of alleged exploitation highlighted by the Star involved former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla.