By Manuela Gruber Hersch
Special to The Post
Canada’s International Experience Class (IEC) allows young people from 32 countries to come and work in Canada.
Formerly known as the Holiday Working Visa and the International Exchange Program, the IEC is specifically designed to provide youth the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience, immerse themselves in a different culture, and potentially obtain their permanent residency.
Essentially, the structure of the program can be interpreted as a quasi-open work permit. The following 32 countries permit young people to apply for the IEC:
Australia, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
While here, visitors can fulfill a range of occupations, one of which may include being an au pair or nanny. Thus, applicants on the IEC can have the option of living with a Canadian family and benefit from the work experience and invaluable cultural exchange.
Increasingly, caregiver agencies that are currently using the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) to usher in nannies from overseas are looking at the IEC to fill the growing demand for in home childcare. Those young females interested in childcare can arrive to Canada under the IEC as an au pair. Au pair is a French term for “equal” and is a worldwide industry, especially in European countries.
Au pairs generally provide childcare and very light child related housekeeping and want to become part of the host family’s home environment.
Currently, Canada is experiencing a huge shortage of local live-in nannies and thus any applicant with a valid IEC and a medical is fundamentally guaranteed a job.
The critical shortage of local applicants has increased the demand for nannies especially since Citizenship and Immigration Canada released over 15,000 of those on open work permits, many of which worked as caregivers and the vast majority left the caregiver industry. This undoubtedly has caused the caregiver industry to plummet.
While the LCP program is still effective and benefits some, Canada needs alternative options. The government is perpetually raising the requirements for families to hire on the LCP and many families are turning to illegal au pairs on tourist visas.
The LCP has become too complex and frustrating for families in need of in home care. Conversely, hiring an Au Pair is not a huge investment for families because it is a quick and inexpensive childcare solution. Those who participate will give children an opportunity to explore a new language, culture and tradition. Moreover, the Au Pairs will have a chance to perfect their English, learn about Canadian culture and meet new friends along the way. It is truly a mutually rewarding and intercultural experience. Additionally, Canada would be the highest paid country for au pairs.
Despite the increasing demand for alternative childcare options, Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, has made it abundantly clear that he has no plans whatsoever to rectify the Live in Caregiver Program.
Manuela Gruber Hersch, originally from Austria, came to Canada as an overseas live in nanny and has been operating International Nannies & Homecare Ltd. since 1996 and is also a board member of the Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada.