Following the lead of Alberta and British Columbia, the province of Ontario has proposed a new law to protect nannies from exploitation by employment agencies. The legislation is an important step forward towards protecting nannies from being charged exorbitant fees by nanny agencies. In Alberta and British Columbia it is illegal for a Canadian nanny agency, or their affiliates overseas, to charge nannies a fee for finding them a job. Often nannies are charged their life savings ($5,000-$10,000), and often the savings of their entire family, to be brought to Canada to work under the live-in caregiver program. Once they get to Canada they work for minimum wage and are often made to work unpaid overtime, sometimes working up to 60 hours a week.
Most nannies in Canada are very familiar with their rights: what they should be paid, how many hours they are expected to work before overtime kicks in, or that overtime exists at all. But many nannies who come to work in Canada from overseas are not aware of their rights, and because they often speak English poorly and are isolated from friends and family they have limited opportunities to educate themselves. These conditions sometimes lead to exploitation. The legislation is an important step towards protecting nannies in Canada because it means they can work here without losing their entire life savings and it means that only reputable and ethical agencies will be able to find them employment. Working with good agencies is the best way for workers to protect themselves from exploitation and unfair treatment such as un-paid overtime, being paid less than minimum wage and even working for employers who are verbally and emotionally abusive.
I encourage anyone who reads this blog to please send an email to political representatives in Ontario to show your support. These workers deserve better and your support will help protect not only nannies in Ontario, but all nannies in Canada.