Prof.: Migrants face abuses in Canada

by Robert Kimmitt | 11/6/03 6:00am

Filipina migrant workers in Canada do not enjoy many of the rights afforded to the general population, Geraldine Pratt said in a lecture yesterday.

Pratt, a professor at the University of British Columbia, co-authored a book entitled "Gender, Work and Space", part of which addresses the topic of migrant workers.

There are "grave human rights violations perpetuated by the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration against...migrant Filipinas," Pratt said, quoting a press release by the Philippine Women Center.

Pratt focused on the Canadian government's Live-in Caregiver Program.

"They certainly do not get paid fairly. One family pays a worker $500 a month to essentially be an indentured servant. This is a mild example," she said.

Pratt went on to describe how families will then charge other families money to have the nanny watch their children. In some cases, families are running day-care centers of sorts and making huge profits off of the exploited workers.

"If the state found out, all the blame would fall on the nanny," Pratt said. "She would be deported."

She said that the government rarely reviews conditions and treatment of workers within homes, creating a veritable realm of lawlessness.

"Many are working two, three, four, even five jobs. Pause for a moment and think what working five jobs at the same time would be like," Pratt said.

Pratt pointed out that these are legal migrant workers and offered a reason as to why a free person would enter into such a contract.

"After a women works 24 months as an indentured servant [through the Live-in Caregiver Program], she can begin the process of becoming a Canadian citizen."

She proposed a partial solution to the problem that would provide greater guarantees that legal rights would be observed and protected. "Women in the Live-in Caregiver Program need to be admitted to Canada as immigrants and not migrants," she said.

"There are more and more of these spaces of exception in liberal societies."