Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “A good piece of news which opens an avenue for a more dignified treatment of temporary migrant workers, and in particular domestic workers. Although the cost for migrants in terms of time, energy and money is high, this case proves that, with the support of civil society organisations and lawyers, migrants can defend their rights and that exploitation and abuse can be repressed.”
When Joy Ortiz arrived in Canada, she had already been away from her three young daughters for six years, working in Hong Kong as a live-in nanny.
With that experience on her resume, she planned to work in Canada as a nanny until she could apply for permanent residency and bring her kids over. Canada, she hoped, would mean a better life for her children.
Soon after she arrived under the now-defunct live-in-caregiver program, Ortiz found she had to fight to stay here — an ordeal that included her arrest and an ensuing legal battle with her former employer.
Earlier this month, a B.C. court ordered the former employer to pay Ortiz seven months’ wages in severance. The decision means employers of migrant caregivers, who are rarely taken to court, could face legal consequences if they violate employment contracts.
Ortiz hopes it will also inspire other migrant workers to follow in her footsteps.
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