Caregivers’ Journeys – Project Launch

On Sunday June 26, 2016, the Migrant Mothers Project will be launching a new study called Caregivers’ Journeys to investigate the impact that recent changes to Canada’s Caregiver Program have on access to permanent residency and family reunification. This study is a collaboration with the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary and is supported by a Research Advisory Committee of community and agency partners in both Alberta and Ontario.

Amidst growing concern about the economic and social conditions of migrants with precarious status, Caregivers’ Journeys is part of a larger project to better understand how conditional settlement impacts immigrant women. It aims to generate new knowledge about women’s experiences that can help inform new and better ways to support immigrants who are vulnerable to violence and insecurity. Read more about why this study is important here.

Since 2015, the community-university research group has been laying the groundwork for Caregivers’ Journeys through consultations with service providers and policy makers in Alberta and Ontario, building relationships with community members, and engaging diverse stakeholders through the project’s Research Advisory Committee. At this Sunday’s project launch event in Toronto, we invite current and past caregivers and their families to participate in discussions about how this research can benefit caregivers, and to learn more about services and supports in the community.

At the event, we will also talk about the next steps in Caregivers’ Journeys, including how caregivers can participate in the research project. To RSVP, please visit our registration page, or call us at 416-946-5099

For more details about Sunday’s event, check out our Facebook event.

Letter to Minister John McCallum – PR Applications Processing Times

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office is circulating a letter asking the government to make the processing  of PR applications of Caregivers a priority. The long processing times of Caregivers’ PR applications  increase the precariousness of their immigration status in Canada, prolong family separation and can potentially have negative health impacts. Click here to read and sign the letter: http://goo.gl/forms/oDUyU1rS0e

 

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A Call to Repeal Conditional PR

The Migrant Mothers Project is circulating a letter to call for the Repeal of Conditional Permanent Residence for newly sponsored spouses and partners. Our letter, addressed to the new Minister of Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada, John McCallum, calls for a thorough examination of policies and practices that are creating longer periods of uncertainty for sponsored spouses and partners.

In 2012, the Conservative government introduced a new immigration status called “Conditional Permanent Residence” to crackdown on the so-called problem of “marriage fraud.” Prior, newly sponsored spouses or partners would receive permanent residence status as soon as their application was approved. People who are given Conditional PR must remain in a “conjugal” relationship with their spouse or partner and any suspicion that the relationship is not real can lead to the sponsored spouse losing their right to remain in Canada.

Advocates across Canada denounced the Conditional PR policy when it was first introduced in 2012. In October 2015, on the 3rd anniversary of the measure, the Canadian Council of Refugees reiterated their call to repeal the Conditional PR based on the detrimental impacts this measure has had on immigrants across Canada. Conditional PR is especially dangerous for women in domestic violence situations by reinforcing the ability of an abuser to exercise control over their spouse through immigration status. While an “Exception for Victims of Abuse and Neglect” is currently offered, research conducted by the Migrant Mothers Project indicates that this process has many flaws. Many women who are facing abuse encounter numerous barriers to accessing services. The threat of losing immigration status altogether forces these women to remain with their abusive partners out of fear of being deported from Canada.

To end the unnecessary hardship that is created by Conditional PR and address the vulnerability of sponsored spouses and partners in abusive relationships, we recommend the following:

  1. Repeal the Conditional PR measure and remove conditions that have been placed on all sponsored spouses and partners who have landed in Canada with conditions, since October 2012.
  2. Expand support for immigrant victims of abuse or neglect to access services and have a secure pathway to permanent residence.
  3. Reduce processing times for in-land and overseas sponsored spouses/partners, especially for regions where the sponsored spouse/partner requires a visa to enter Canada.
  4. Extend work authorization to in-land sponsored spouses/partners while they wait for their applications to be processed.

Our letter goes hand-in-hand with a policy brief that outlines the racialized and gendered impacts of this policy measure on newly sponsored spouses and partners. We encourage advocates and immigrant leaders across Canada to meet with your Member of Parliament to encourage them to repeal Conditional Permanent Residence and to develop stronger supports for immigrant and refugee women who experience violence.


 

Letter to the Minister of Canadian Citizenship and Immigration: http://goo.gl/forms/pHS8z3937Z

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Policy Brief for Conditional PR (Updated)  MMP Conditional PR Policy Brief Jan 14 2016

New study to look at “How Conditional Settlement Impacts Immigrant Women”

This spring, 2015, the Migrant Mothers Project is launching a new three-year study that will examine “How conditional settlement impacts immigrant women”. This study builds upon previous research conducted by the Migrant Mothers Project and aims to inform the development of programs, policies and advocacy strategies to support immigrant women. With the rising concern for economic and social conditions facing immigrants with precarious immigration status, this research aims to develop an intersectional gendered lens that will help us develop ways to support immigrant women and influence public policy to better assist them in times of crisis and need.

In particular, the “Conditional Settlement” study will focus on two groups of immigrants that are overrepresented by women: a) sponsored spouses/partners and b) people who enter Canada through what was previously called the Live-In-Caregiver program.

In Canada, women represent 58% of the sponsored spouses and 96% of the Live-In Caregiver entries (Citizenship & immigration Canada, 2014). The legal and financial dependence that sponsored spouses/partners face have been amplified with the new Conditional Permanent Residence status, that applies to sponsored spouses/partners who have been in a relationship with their sponsor for two years or less and do not have a child in common.

Recent changes to the Live-in-Caregiver program in November 2014, have also created uncertainty about how domestic workers and caregivers in the new program will access permanent residence. In both cases, immigrant women with conditional status may be vulnerable to abuse and face an increased risk of becoming nonstatus or being deportation if they do not abide by the conditions of their stay.

The study’s main objectives are:

  • Exploring changes in immigration policy that impact the settlement of sponsored spouses;
  • Examine how changes to the Live-in-Caregiver program are impacting access to permanent residency and settlement of live-in-caregivers and domestic workers;
  • Understand how immigration enforcement (deportation and removal from Canada) impact immigrant women’ safety and access to support services.
  • Explore the impact of federal and  provincial policies on access to services for immigrant women in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario

During the first year, the main research activities will include:

  • Holding community consultations with service providers and policy makers in Alberta and Ontario;
  • Forming a Research Advisory Committee to guide the development of the study;
  • Conducting a scan of parliamentary debates and policy changes related to sponsored spouses and the live-in-caregiver program;

We look forward to sharing information that we gather about these policies and their impacts throughout the study. Please check out our website for regular updates or follow-us on Facebook.

The Migrant Mothers Project Team

MMP Report & Digital Stories Release

The Migrant Mothers Project (MMP) is pleased to release Unprotected, Unrecognized: Canadian Immigration Policy and Violence Against Women, 2008-2013 a report that examines how recent changes in immigration policy are negatively impacting immigrant women. The MMP is also launching, Till Immigration Tears Us Apart: Stories of Strength through Struggle, a collection of digital stories by migrant women and their advocates.

The Migrant Mothers Project is a collaborative research project led by Rupaleem Bhuyan at the University of Toronto in partnership with a network of community groups working to address violence against immigrant women.

Findings from Unprotected, Unrecognized illustrate how many groups of immigrant women are vulnerable to abuse from their spouse or employer, but have fewer options to seek safety without fearing detention or deportation. It details how sweeping federal policy changes are restricting family sponsorship and reunification, limiting refugee and immigrants’ access to health care and social assistance, while increasing the rate of detention and deportation of immigrants and refugees in Canada. Lastly, the report highlights how community and grassroots groups across Canada are advocating for broader protections for immigrant women.

The Till Immigration Tears Us Apart provides firsthand accounts on the struggles facing immigrant women who are non-status or who have a temporary or precarious immigration status.​  It illustrates how immigration policies impact migrant women’s efforts to support themselves and their families.

We extend our gratitude to women living with precarious immigration status, social and health service providers, grassroots activists, lawyers and educators, whose knowledges and wisdom inspired this report.

The report and the digital stories can both be found in our website: http://migrantmothersproject.com/

Featured @UofTNews,  http://bit.ly/1v9IP1k

We welcome your questions and thoughts. Contact us at migrantmothersproject@gmail.com

Sincerely yours,

Rupaleem Bhuyan

University of Toronto

 

 

 

 

 

Constant State of Change

During the past two weeks, there have been several major shifts and changes in Canadian immigration policy. The Migrant Mothers Project team is still making sense of these changes, but wanted to illustrate some of the policies here at this time.

Changes to the Live-In-Caregiver Program

The long anticipated changes to the Live-in-Caregiver program were announced by Minister Chris Alexander on October 31, 2014. The proposed changes are complex and have been met with mixed responses. Many support the removal of the “live-in” requirement, while some are skeptical to see that fewer Live-in-caregivers will have access to permanent residence. Salimah Valiani has posted a “Briefing note: An analysis of the recently reformed Live-in-Caregiver Program”. The regulations are due to come into effect on November 30, 2014.

A quick overview of the proposed changes include:

  • Live-in requirement is now optional. Live-in-caregivers will no longer be required to live with their employers while they are in the program.
  • The federal government will increase the number of permanent residents (up to 30,000) next year, who apply through the Live-in-Caregiver program. This is intended to clear up the ‘back-log’ of applications that have been pending. There is not commitment to maintain these levels moving forward.
  • CIC has introduced two new streams for caregivers: 1) child care workers and 2) health care aids. There will be a cap of 5,500 for both steams per year beginning in 2015. This is a sizable drop from the current levels of 25,000-30,000 new live-in-caregivers in recent years.
  • The new caregiver streams will be required to have higher levels of education and to have high test scores in English or French (this change mirrors changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canadian Experience Class immigration program)

Interim Federal Health Care (Temporarily Reinstated)

Earlier this year, in July, the Federal Court ruled that cuts to Interim Federal Health (IFH) program for refugee claimants was unconstitutional not to mention “cruel”. This past week, the Federal Court denied the Federal Government’s appeal, thus requiring the government to reinstate part of the IFH. The federal government is apparently still fighting this ruling, but while they are exhausting all legal avenues they’ve rolled out a temporary plan.

 

Some of the reinstated benefits include:

  • Drug coverage for resettled refugees, refugee claimants
  • Pre-natal care
  • Basic drug coverage

“Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices”

Yes, that is the actual name of a bill tabled in the Senate, introduced by Chris Alexander. The bill seeks to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Criminal Code, and the Marriage Act. These amendments would criminalize any one who officiates or takes part in a forced marriage; it creates a national standard for a minimum age to marry at 16, and increases the power of immigration officers to deny an immigration application or deport people who practice or “intend to practice” polygamy.

There are many loopholes in this law and the messaging which attaches forms of violence against women to “cultural” groups that can be handled through intimidating and deporting immigrants. This law does little to provide meaningful support or protection to victims of violence including victims of forced marriage or the so-called “honor’ killings. As the Canadian Council of Muslim Women have stated, the language of ‘honor’ is falsely applied to violence against women in immigrant communities, when in all cases of femicide, the murdered is motivated by a loss of his honor.

For more on this topic, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario has produced a comprehensive report on the problem of Forced Marriages in Canada. Although the Chris Alexander quoted statistics from SALCO’s report, they seem to have missed the heart of what victims are asking for, which is no criminalization’, since this would likely discourage victims from seeking any kind of help as this could put their loved ones in jeopardy under the proposed laws.

With so much change take place in Canadian policies, this is a time for discussion and community engagement; policy makers must engage the public and be held accountable to all forms of violence against women that are taking place in Canada, including those produced by Canadian social policies.

 

Symposium Success!

 

 

Ritika Goal, health justice activist and Toronto-family physician speaking at June 5th Symposium.

Ritika Goal, health justice activist and Toronto-family physician speaking at June 5th Symposium.

On behalf of the Migrant Mothers Project Team, I would like to thank all who took part in the June 5th Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status. With over 130 people taking part in the panel discussions and workshops there was an incredible exchange of knowledge and commitment to tackle the challenges facing immigrants with precarious status in Canada.

We originally set out to bring people from different parts of Canada to share their analysis of how immigration polices are impacting women’s access to safety and vital services. At yesterday’s symposium, we surpassed our original hopes, to bridge the local and personal struggles of migrant workers, sponsored spouses and family members, and refugee claimants with the systemic understanding of how Canadian policies are denying the basic rights of too many immigrants residing in Canada today.

There is so much work to be done, but also inspiring examples of advocacy successes to influence different levels of government and implement programs that can cater to the needs of multiply marginalized immigrants.

In the coming weeks, the Migrant Mothers Project will post the video-recorded presentations and summaries of the workshop discussions on our symposium website. We have also posted policy briefs on each of the workshop topics from Access to Education and Health Care, to Detention & Deportation.

Thank you again for the great energy and thanks to all of our volunteers and community partners who helped make this day a success!

Warmly,

Rupaleem Bhuyan & The Migrant Mothers Project Team

 

June 5th, National Symposium

On June 5, 2014, the Migrant Mothers Project (MMP) and Woman Abuse Council of Toronto are hosting a National Symposium to address how immigration policy changes are impacting immigrant women’s safety and rights. This full-day event will take place at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus at the George Ignatieff Theatre and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

June 5 Symposium Poster_Facebook Event

The morning will feature speakers from organizations across Canada who are working in areas of immigration settlement, anti-violence against women support services, immigration and refugee law, and advocacy for temporary foreign workers.
 
Afternoon workshops will engage attendees to exchange knowledge and identify strategies for policy and community advocacy. The workshops will be facilitated by community partners from FCJ Refugee Centre, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Access Alliance, Parkdale Community Legal Clinic, the University of Ottawa, No One Is Illegal, the Barbara Schlifer Clinic, and Caregiver’s Action Network. 
 
We hope to promote a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities that are inherent between marginalized communities, service providers and researchers. 
 

Digital Story Telling – May & June 2014

After much encouragement to create additional stories, The Migrant Mothers Project is collaborating with Springtide Resources to create additional Digital Stories with women who have precarious status and their service providers.  Starting in May 2014, we plan on creating six additional stories with women with precarious immigration status and service providers working with women with precarious immigration status to continue bringing awareness to the lived experiences of women with precarious immigration that live in Toronto.

We would like to collect diverse stories and seek to connect with live-in-caregivers, migrant workers and those with sponsorship experiences. We believe that this growing population must be heard, while ensuring anonymity and creating spaces of safety and belonging. We plan on using the digital stories as educational tools in organizations, school settings and presentations to continue to dialogue of precarious immigration status in Canada.

Links to the MMP Digital Stories are coming soon!

Our Collective Strength – Nov. 7, 2013 Community Event

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On November 7th, 2013 the Migrant Mothers Project hosted “Our Collective Strength”, a community event to raise consciousness on the intersections of violence against women, precarious immigration status and human rights. This event was generously sponsored by the Women & Gender Studies Institute Community Knowledge Alliance initiative and took place in the William Doo Auditorium and atrium at the University of Toronto.

Over 70 people attended to network with student and community groups during the community fair, as well as enjoy food prepared by Conscious Kosher Catering, and bear witness to the digital stories, poetry, and dance performance created by women living with precarious status in Canada and their allies.