Living in the UAE for a year now, I realise I have come to view my home and native land in an impossibly rosy light. I catch myself saying "back home" a lot, and pondering good old days when people didn't pervert the word "inshallah" to mean "never going to happen"; a girl could kiss her guy on a street corner without fear of being arrested and foreign workers weren't blatantly exploited with no fear of reprisal. Right. Turns out the Toronto Star, one of those rare papers that still funds major investigative journalism, has revealed otherwise. After interviewing two dozen foreign workers, reporters Ron Cribb and Dale Brazao found that dreams of working abroad instead lead to fraud, mistreatment and misrepresentation - if not no job at all.
The pieces have even swept up the federal Multiculturism and Youth critic, Brampton MP – and Liberal darling – Ruby Dhalla, who is accused by two women employed by her family to care for her aging mother of an assortment of mistreatment, including withholding their passports.
I sniff an NNA for this one:
A Toronto Star investigation has found that the popular federal Live-In Caregiver Program has become a nanny trap. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of foreign caregivers have paid $5,000 or more to come to Canada to care for children or the elderly during the last decade – jobs that too often turn out to be fake. Once here, their federal contracts are void. Faced with what is for them a crushing debt, some are forced to work illegally at part-time, sometimes menial jobs; others are deported.
Federal authorities are turning a blind eye to this exploitation.
Documents obtained by the Star show Canada Border Services Agency officials believe there is "ongoing fraud and misrepresentation" within the program, but the immigration and human resources departments are not taking action.
The Star presented its investigative findings to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who said his department is aware there is abuse in the program.
"We have this whole industry, most of which is unlicensed and unregulated, and large numbers of unscrupulous operations in Canada and throughout the world who exploit people's dreams and hopes to come to Canada," he said.