Nanny recruitment causing problems back home that money can’t fix

Many Canadians have heard by now about the unpleasant conditions under which many live-in domestics work, through today’s testimony offered by two caregivers allegedly mistreated by the family of Ontario Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, and through the Global public affairs program 16:9.

What is not so certain is whether or not there will be sufficient changes in the Canadian laws and regulations governing the employment of live-in domestic workers — few of whom are Canadian citizens — to reduce the hardships faced by these workers.

As noted in a previous post, one of the few robust research projects about domestic workers’ working conditions, done in Britain in the ’90s, found that live-in domestic workers were often mistreated.

Additional research by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, found that employing live-in domestics to look after children and tend to household chores in well-to-do countries like Canada creates a problem for the workers’ children left behind in the Philippines and elsewhere:

“An estimated 30 per cent of Filipino children—some eight million—live in households where at least one parent has gone overseas. These children have counterparts in Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union.

How are these children doing? Not very well, according to a survey which the Scalabrini Migration Center in Manila conducted with more than seven hundred children in 1996. Compared to their classmates, the children of migrant workers more frequently fell ill; they were more likely to express anger, confusion, and apathy; and they performed more poorly in school. Other studies of this population show a rise in delinquency and child suicide (Frank 2001). When such children were asked whether they would also migrate when they grew up, leaving their own children in the care of others, they all said no.” (p. 38)

While some might say that poorer countries benefit from the remittances sent home by Canadian-based live-in caregivers, it is nonetheless an economic benefit that comes at a high cost. There are much better ways for Canadians to assist poorer countries with economic growth, such as by assisting those countries in upgrading their educational systems and combatting corruption.


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

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