Today’s blog topic is a very serious one that I hope all Canadian Au Pair families will read and share with others. At Canadian Au Pair Solutions, we have heard countless stories of families who cut corners and employ Au Pairs who are in Canada on tourist/visitor visas. This is not only illegal, it places your Au Pair and your family in jeopardy for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the host family to be fully informed regarding the visa requirements and applicable laws surrounding the employment of an Au Pair in Canada.
Why do Families Cut Corners?
Some explanations that we have heard as to why Canadian families cut corners and hire Au Pairs illegally include:
- Families don’t fully understand the process regarding working holiday visas or that they are even required for Au Pairs to work legally in Canada
- Au Pairs are not regulated as a form of childcare in Canada and some families feel they can ‘make their own rules’
- Some families have received misinformation that they don’t need to worry about their Au Pair having the proper visa and that they can be paid ‘under the table’ or with ‘pocket money’
- Some families are in a rush to establish childcare and in needing to save time are willing to cut corners and take risks
- The common misconception that Au Pairs are considered to be on a ‘cultural exchange’ and that ‘pocket money’ doesn’t equate to paid employment
Au Pairs and Work in Canada
The term “work” is broadly defined to mean any activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market (e.g. childcare providers, nannies and live-in caregivers). Although a broad definition, it is capable of capturing a wide range of work and work-related activities and occupations including that of Au Pairs. Au Pairs are not considered exempt from this definition in Canada because of ‘cultural exchange’ as their primary function for payment is childcare. There’s no way around this in the eyes of Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada/Canada Border Services Agency
The CIC and CBSA are the primary bodies that enforce Immigration Laws in Canada. Part of the CBSA’s mandate is to enforce the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Enforcement of this Act is not something that CIC/CBSA takes lightly or overlooks. CBSA will not hesitate to deny entry to an Au Pair who has arrived in Canada without the proper working holiday visa. Lying to the CBSA regarding one’s entry/intent to work in Canada is a very serious offence. Counselling an Au Pair to lie or omit details about being an Au Pair is also a very serious offence. CBSA has no problem refusing entry to Canada if they believe that someone is not being truthful as to why they are coming into the country. If you think CBSA isn’t monitoring sites like Au Pair World, you’re mistaken. There have been many families who have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new Au Pair only to have them denied entry to Canada and sent away on the next flight home. Think seriously about the position this could potentially put your family in along with your Au Pair! Not only would your family be left in the terrible situation of not having childcare, your Au Pair would be denied entry to Canada (and refused re-entry for one year or more) and would be forced to pay their own way back home.
Think Au Pair families aren’t at any risk for hiring an Au Pair to work under the table? Wrong. Employers who illegally employ foreign nationals are liable to fines of up to $50,000 and terms of imprisonment of up to two years. If there is evidence of misrepresentation on the part of the employer, the penalties can be as high as $100,000 and five years. There has been a lot of negative press in recent months regarding foreign workers in Canada and the illegal use of Au Pairs is no different. Please see the articles at the end of this blog for further information.
The Canadian Revenue Agency
Without a valid working visa, an Au Pair is ineligible to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and is unable to work. Families therefore cannot claim their childcare expenses against their income at the end of the year. Tax breaks for families are a HUGE benefit and should be fully taken advantage of! By legally employing Au Pairs, families and Au Pairs themselves not only get peace of mind but some excellent tax benefits and returns at the end of the year. Au Pairs should be filing tax returns too – it benefits them in the form of a refund!
How Canadian Au Pair Solutions Can Help
Simply put, it’s just not worth it to cut corners when it comes to hiring an Au Pair in Canada. Au Pairs are such an excellent alternative for childcare and welcoming an Au Pair can be a mutually wonderful experience as long as it’s done correctly. We can help you with this! Canadian Au Pair Solutions is highly knowledgeable and up-to-date regarding all applicable visa requirements, restrictions, medical clearances, employment standards and laws surrounding the employment of Au Pairs in Canada. We can provide guidance and support through the process to help you and your family. You are responsible for ensuring that the Au Pair’s authorization to work corresponds to when they’ll be with your family and taking the necessary steps to ensure these requirements are met. Don’t leave it to an agency. Don’t try to make your way through the process unless you are fully comfortable with what you’re doing. Don’t leave it to your Au Pair. Let the professionals at Canadian Au Pair Solutions educate and guide you through the Au Pair process properly.
Some Additional Articles of Interest
Kriender Law: Penalties for Failing to Obtain a Work Permit
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll share this blog with your fellow Au Pair families in Canada. Feel free to contact Erin or I anytime if you have any questions. We can be contacted via Facebook, Twitter or E-Mail anytime.
Canadian Au Pair Solutions