Coalition for Change: Caregivers and Temporary Foreign Workers

October 05, 2009 15:16 ET

Caregivers Forced to Take the Law Into Their Own Hands

Caregivers and community allies to announce legal suit against recruitment agency to stop exploitative fees and job scams and to call for government action to protect caregivers.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 5, 2009) -

Media Advisory for Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Attn: GTA Assignment, News and Editors

Date: Tuesday October 6, 2009
Time: 11 am
Location: Front entrance of the Superior Court of Justice, 361 University
Avenue, Toronto

Three caregivers have been forced to file suit against Rakela Care Agency to stop the agency from harassing them and other caregivers to pay fees after broken promises and exploitation.

"After uprooting ourselves and moving to Canada for employment under the Live-in Caregiver program (LCP), Rakela told us there was no jobs for us. Yet Rakela still wanted us to pay the $5,000 recruitment fee" said Joelina, a caregiver involved in the court action. "The agency took our passports to ensure we'd pay up. Until we got our real jobs under the Live-in Caregiver Program, we lived in the agency owner's basement; sometimes there were twelve caregivers living there. We were made to clean the house and sent out on cleaning jobs. To intimidate us further, the agency sued us for payment. Agencies should not be allowed to get away with this kind of extortion."

Caregivers and allies are calling on the federal government to regulate the fraudulent agencies, not target the victims of such agencies. The federal government has responded to agency abuse by authorizing visa officers to send workers back home if they suspect an agency of job scams. This just punishes the victim and does nothing to stop such exploitation. Caregivers and temporary foreign workers have often already paid huge fees for employment recruitment before coming to Canada. Once in Canada, temporary foreign workers face violations of their rights and abusive working conditions, but work under immigration rules that trap workers in vulnerable situations. In the absence of real action against abusive agencies, caregivers are doing the government's job.

Caregivers are awaiting the Ontario government's promised bill to stop agencies from charging recruitment fees and other protections for caregivers will be introduced soon. "It is a credit to these brave women, all of whom have escaped the exploitative situation they faced through their own efforts, that they are standing up and taking Rakela Agency to court," says Pura Velasco, member of the Coalition for Change. "The provincial government must introduce real protection for workers and ensure its new legislation has no loopholes for agencies to charge fees here or abroad."

The Coalition for Change is an umbrella group that includes community, labour and immigrant rights groups. This press conference was organized by: Caregivers Action Centre, Caregivers Connections, Gateway Centre for New Canadians, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Migrante-Ontario, No One is Illegal - Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada and Workers' Action Centre.

Contact Information

  • Sonia Singh
    (416) 557-5557
    Pura Velasco
    (416) 361-6319