Exploited Nannies in Canada - Human Trafficking

November 6, 2014

​I just received an upsetting phone call from a woman who has been ‘taken’ by a nanny agency in Toronto. The story she tells, tells a story of human trafficking. Many would think that the issue of human trafficking doesn't exist in Canada, but it very much does.

There are some nanny agencies in Canada that are bringing women to Canada to work as a nanny or housekeeper under false pretenses. They promise a job that will give them enough money to send back to their family, often charging them high placement fees to secure these jobs. Once the nanny arrives in Canada, she finds that this job doesn’t exist. The agency takes their passport from them, which forces them to work at whatever job they're given, which borders on slavery.

The Canadian law is set to protect these nannies, and the federal Live-in Caregiver Program has been recently updated to better protect the rights of live-in caregivers, as well as to make it easier for them to come to Canada with their families. These changes now state that the family sponsoring the nanny pay for the following costs on behalf of their nanny:

  • Travel costs to come to Canada (i.e. plane, train, boat, car, bus),
  • Medical insurance until eligible to apply for provincial coverage, 
  • Workplace safety insurance and any recruiting fees incurred,

An agency or employer is not permitted to confiscate a nanny’s passport, as that does not allow the nanny any freedom to find other work if she chooses.  Agencies cannot charge registration, recruitment, or immigration fees to nannies by law.

Every Canadian family hiring a nanny has to choose the hiring method that works best for them, whether they use an agency, an online service like CanadianNanny.ca, or word-of-mouth. There are many reputable agencies available across Canada, but if you choose to use an agency, please do your homework first. Here are a few warning signs to watch out for when choosing an agency:

  • No or low cost to the family – there are costs associated with bringing a nanny to Canada, as regulated by the Live-in Caregiver Program
  • Abnormally high reimbursement for room and board expenses
  • Promising a nanny will work overtime for a low wage with no overtime.

As you can imagine, many nannies coming to Canada are desperate for a new and safe environment in Canada, both for themselves and their family. When you hire a new nanny, you want to provide that to her.

Remember this when you’re choosing how to hire a nanny and what agency to use. Saving a few dollars now doesn't help anyone; it just supports illegal trafficking of nannies in Canada. Secondly, if you suspect a nanny in your neighbourhood may be being exploited, do something about it! Call your local police and report the matter so it can be investigated.

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