Gender, Migration, & The Work of Care

Facts and Context

Canada: Migrant Domestic Workers



Women recruited from British Isles to work as domestics and become mothers of the next generation of Canadians.


About this time, low pay and isolating conditions drive European migrant domestics to seek private sphere jobs.


100 women from Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, are admitted to fulfill domestic shortages. They must work four times longer than European counterparts before being granted landed immigrant status.


After WWII, Canada has difficulty securing migrant domestic labour from Central and Eastern Europe.


Caribbean countries lobby Canada to ease restrictive immigration policies; Caribbean women admitted as domestic workers.


Caribbean migrant women begin leaving domestic work in Canada shortly after obtaining landed immigrant status which granted them permanent residence.


New Employment Visa Regulations introduced: domestic workers enter on temporary employment visas and can only stay in Canada if they stay employed in domestic work.


Coalition of black, immigrant and women’s organizations protest domestic worker conditions.


Foreign Domestic Worker Movement program introduced; workers required to live-in.


Live-In Caregiver Program in effect; vast majority of workers are women from the Philippines. See here for 2014 changes.

Dr. Monica Boyd is researching the history of Canada’s Live-In Caregiver program (1992–2014) as part her “Gender, Migration and the Work of Care” sub-project “Migrating for Care: Permanent and Temporary Workers in North America.”

Boyd illuminates more than 100 years of Canada’s policies to bring women overseas as domestic workers.

Through the decades, domestic migrants left domestic work to improve their lives, finds Boyd.

But federal policy has never aimed to change the conditions that make caregiving or housekeeping work undesirable.

Boyd’s policy history reveals mixed historical aims and results of domestic migration, including evidence of racialized or national discrimination.

Canadian policy historically privileged European-descent women, while making it harder for racialized women to stay in Canada.