Getting Started with the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program

by Nicole Bloomberg, MBA
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I receive quite a few emails and comments each week on the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) and the majority of them surround how to participate in the program, from the perspective of a potential foreign worker and from potential employers.

I try to be very up front and honed when I discuss this topic – especially when I say that I do recommend the use of a nanny agency – as the rules and regulations have been getting more and more specific and with that more and more complicated over the years. The Conservative government has put measures in place to make it less desirable for foreign workers to abuse the system and have absolutely clamped down on abusive employers. The government has also tightened up requirements on nanny agencies making sure they have immigration consultants on their staff as well as an immigration lawyer. If anyone is going to be able to get the caregivers over to Canada properly and navigate through the rules, it’s an agency.

With all this tightening, we are left with two very clear facts;

1. You have to have money to hire a live in caregiver. The government has been known to reject single parents with income of less than $70,000.00 per year and couples with a combined income of less than $100,000.00 per year, as reported on their personal taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). They ask for a copy of your previous 2 years’ notices of assessment (NOA’s) to ensure you are telling the truth.

The main reason behind the minimum salary requirements is quite simple. Too many nannies came forward complaining at having not been paid and / or were being paid much less than minimum wage. The government is trying to change people’s perspectives through the LCP that these people (mainly women) are foreign workers, not nannies, and as such, the employers will be less likely to take advantage of then re: wages, working conditions, tasks, hours, vacation time, etc. Companies who abuse their foreign workforce get sued.

The downfall of the high salary requirement for employers obviously is that a single mom, for example, who needs to get out into the workforce to provide for her family cannot afford to hire a nanny through the program and instead resorts to daycare or hiring a nanny under the table, which generally means being paid in cash. Cash is great for not paying taxes and not having to perform the monthly remittance to the government however without an official record trail of being employed in Canada and paying into the system, when that caregiver finds themselves unemployed, they are not eligible to claim EI and are forced to take a low paying job somewhere else in order to keep the income flowing. If they are in the LCP, they are not getting credit for time served.

2. The second thing this tightening of screws does, is it pushes any potential employer towards a nanny agency in order to ensure they complete the paperwork and get through all the new requirements. When we sponsored our first nanny – over 7 years ago – there were only two pages of paperwork required and through our agency, The Wee Care Placement Agency,, we jointly completed the paperwork and went through the next steps together. I spoke to the government, they asked the questions I was now expecting and I gave them the answers they needed to hear to know we needed a nanny and would treat them with respect and in the same way we expect them to treat our kids.

It’s an intimidating process to say the least, at least it was back in 2004 when we started sponsoring nannies, and it’s been getting that much more complicated as we continued sponsoring nannies once our nannies completed the program and went off into the workforce.

Nowadays, the documentation needed is upwards of 18 pages long, and the requirement to advertise on the job bank is also quite specific, let alone figuring out the logistics around the paying for the ticket of this potential nanny to come to Canada – hoping they will stay with you, or that you mesh together… It’s not so easy anymore to do on your own. One mistake or omission could set back your nannies anticipated arrival by days, weeks, months or worse, permanently and land you on the banned employer list.

It’s also easier when going through an agency to find out why a nanny coming from the Philippines needs a year and proof of travel being paid for, while a nanny coming from Hong Kong can be here in half that time. Most agencies also provide a guarantee so if you do sponsor through them and the nanny bails or you find they do not mesh with your family, you have 3 months to sort this out,

An additional bonus to having an agency on your side is as a resource to ask when you are unsure of overtime amounts to be paid or duties which can and cannot be performed, or about how to address performance issues, or vacation request, sick requests or open permits. I called Wee Care to discuss the newest regulations and it helped me write this post. It was money well spent back in 2004 and we continue to have a relationship to this day.

So if I was being asked again to provide my thoughts on how to move forward through the LCP, my advice would be to speak to an agency. It’s worth every penny and you’ll keep going back over and over again. As a matter of fact, in the 7 years which we have sponsored 4 nannies we have done them all through Wee Care and for us the program suited our needs it got to the point where they knew what kind of caregiver we needed and they brought us a couple to meet and interview along our guidelines and one remains with us.

But you do not hae to take my word for it. Read up on the guidelines online at the CRA and Immigration Canada websites on what is required, then you too will probably come to the realization that you will need an agency to assist you though this process.

Good luck.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and if I cannot answer them, I will forward them along to the amazing folks at Wee Care for their expert opinions.

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