by Katie Palmer
In 2009, the Toronto Star published a series of investigative reports on the widespread abuse and exploitation of Filipina live-in caregivers. The newspaper repeatedly pegged migrant women as victims: victims of ungodly employers; victims of provincial labor law inequalities; and, perhaps most importantly, victims of oppressive Canadian immigration policy, specifically the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP).
The Live-In Caregiver Program is a visa-entry program that recruits women to enter Canada as live-in caregivers, maids, and nannies for affluent Canadian families. Canadian families hire foreign-born women to care for their children, do their laundry, and prepare their meals. At the same time, foreign-born women from economically impoverished countries, such as the Philippines, have a chance—after living in the employers’ houses for a minimum of 24 months within a 36-month period— to acquire highly coveted Canadian citizenship.
The Live-In Caregiver Program is a far cry from a win-win situation. Activists, journalists and scholars have shown time and time again how the Live-In Caregiver Program reproduces inequalities along the intersecting axes of gender, race, and class.