Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Canadian Live-in Caregiver (Maid) Policy

I read this "Five men, like flotsam" article from Yawning Bread and wanted to share something about the similarities and differences in Canada.

Before I do that, I need to share a little about the background of the "Live-in Caregiver" policy in Canada (a.k.a. Domestic Maid in Singaporean lingo). The following is an email that I wrote to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower in June-2011 (in support of Kristen Han's "Campaign for a Regular Day Off for Domestic Workers"). 
[Aside, actually I also forwarded the email to a secondary school friend who (based on what she mentioned) was at some point the MOM officer who approved the renewal of work permits, including those of domestic maids. Note: I think she has moved on to another position within MOM since.]
Hopefully, the email will serve to provide a quick background of the rules and regulations surrounding the live-in caregiver (a.k.a. domestic maid) policy in Canada. [Click here for "A Guide to the Employment Standards Act For Domestic Workers and their Employers" by the Government of British Columbia.] I shall be mentioning "live-in caregivers" in Canada in my upcoming post regarding the issues brought up by Yawning Bread's article.


From: [WD]
Subject: Campaign for a Regular Day Off for Domestic Workers
Date: Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 4:32 AM

Dear Sir,

I read with interest the Campaign for a Regular Day Off for domestic workers in Singapore.

I am in a Singapore Citizen currently residing in Canada. In my humble opinion, the Canadian system is not perfect, but even as it stands, there is so much that Singapore can adapt from Canada regarding its labour laws on domestic workers, otherwise known as live-in caregivers in Canada.

E.g. For live-in caregivers, the Canadian immigration have strict rules that all Terms & Conditions are clearly defined before the live-in caregivers are given the visa to land in Canada.

E.g. The following Employment Standards Rights for Foreign National Live-in Caregivers explain their rights to them. In multicultural Canada, government services may be rendered in the language of the client (including that of the foreign worker) as necessary so as to ensure their understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
See section on “Limits on Hours of Work”. “For you to work more than 48 hours in a week, your employer must have your written agreement and an approval from the Ministry of Labour.”
“Generally, you must have at least 11 consecutive hours off work each day, and 24 consecutive hours off work each week, or 48 consecutive hours off work in every 2-week period.”

E.g. The URL below shows a template for the contract to be submitted to immigration department before the live-in caregiver is allowed to enter Canada. Point 8, regarding paid public holiday entitlement, states, “The EMPLOYEE shall be entitled to all applicable provincial, territorial and national statutory and public holidays with pay.”

E.g. The following URL gives Human Resource directives on Live-in Caregivers. Point 4.7, regarding hours of work, states, “While some latitude may be expected, the work schedule cannot be flexible to the point that the caregiver is on call 24 hours per day. Employers must be aware that overtime must be paid to the live-in caregiver in accordance with provincial/territorial legislation. To learn more about the maximum acceptable number of hours, please refer to the relevant provincial labour standards”.

Given Singapore's demand for high productivity and long work hours from our professional workforce, Singaporeans depend heavily on their domestic workers to run the homes and take care of loved ones. Given this dependency, wouldn't it be in our best interests to provide conditions where we can attract the best domestic workers to our shores in the same way that we seek to attract the best foreign talents to Singapore? In order to compete effectively, Singapore needs to raise its bar gradually but resolutely to meet international standards.

Yours sincerely,
[WD's full official NRIC name]


  1. High productivity does not equal long hours.

    It's the culture of hanging around because you cannot be seen leaving before the boss.

    I distinctively remembered in my youth that we had one of highest productivity in the world, with that yellow bee as mascot. Why has it dipped so much?

    No country should be so dependent on maids and domestic helpers.

    1. Hi CK,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

      > High productivity does not equal long hours.

      I agree with you on the above. That was why I listed them separately in the email to MOM. When I write complaints/appeal letters, I try to put myself in my recipient's shoes and think of what would make them "move". Thus the inclusion of those favourite Singaporean labour-related buzzwords.

      Yes, I also remember Teamy the bee during my growing years. I can still remember the "Good, Better, Best, never let it rest" jingle that was taught in schools in those days. MrWangSaysSo had written about it a few years ago.

      > No country should be so dependent on maids and domestic helpers.

      Yes. That issue is also raised by the Canadian activists when discussing the issues of live-in caregivers (i.e. domestic maids). They call the abusive cases here "modern slavery". Yup, Canadians don't mince their words when there is human rights abuse perpetrated.

      Cheers, WD.