Monday, April 06, 2009

blogging a little, maybe a lot, maybe too much

Still tired as hell and not sure why. I think when I returned I got a cold or something? Or maybe it's because the baby is up all the time. Off to a walk-in clinic and maybe I'll feel better after he feels better.

There are a dozen things I'd like to blog about, especially the Nanny Series the Star is running right now. I'm glad the province is going to legislate the agencies--but that really won't solve the problems inherent in the system. I mean, for pete's sake, why are nannies forced to live with the employers? Why isn't it a choice? And why does it take two friggin' years to sponsor a nanny you've never met? What if she arrives and doesn't like you, or you don't like her? And it takes months to get a permit when a nanny does want to change jobs. Why? It takes one hour to fill out all the forms and two years for a civil servant to read? WTF? And for infertile women like me, who have gone through multiple losses, asking me to sponsor a nanny ages before I even get pregnant or have a live baby is not just stupid, it's cruel. (Same for parents who are trying to adopt or foster, btw.) What was I supposed to do, apply every month for a nanny and when I get my period or have another miscarriage I call up and cancel? And then apply again the next day? Over and over and over again every month for years? At nine months I still needed therapy to buy a pack of diapers, never mind hire a nanny....I remember contemplating a nanny, and thank God we were able to find someone who I didn't have to sponsor. After that high-risk delivery I was incapable of taking care of the baby alone and I needed a caregiver for myself, not just a baby nurse.

What do people do who experience sudden disability or have a stroke or need eldercare or lose a daycare spot do because their daycare shuts down? Quit their jobs? I guess the federal government thinks they should be screwed, huh?

Here's an idea. Let the nannies apply to Immigration as certified caregivers, and arrive in whatever numbers that arrive. We know that all of them will be hired instantly because we have such a huge need due for eldercare and childcare. HRDC has documented it. Then have employers apply to immigration as certified employers and let them hire whoever they want, whenever they want. They just let the government know when they get matched up and go from there. And no one has to live with anyone if they don't want to. Simple.

Next question: Why is it that after a nanny has worked for two years as a live-in caregiver, and should be automatically eligible for citizenship, then why does it take another two years to get landed immigrant status? And cost $900? They have already passed security and health checks, etc. the first time they entered. They fulfilled all their obligations, for fuck's sake. It should be instant. Fix all that slow as molasses bureaucratic mess, and you fix all the issues. As for the media coverage, some of the objections that have come up in the comments of the articles on the Star are pretty stupid as side issues go. There are almost no Canadians born here* willing to work as nannies, regardless of how much you offer to pay, so no, I really wish all the anti-immigrant right wing nutbars would STFU about how we should be keeping jobs at home. Face it, white Canadians like me are lazy and overprivileged and won't work as caregivers. I'm just willing to admit it. ;) HRDC is a lot more polite about it, but who is kidding who people? If we were willing to change diapers for a living, then there would be applicants for jobs. As it is, there are none. The other strange thing is the comments from people who don't like anyone hiring nannies, white or foreign at all, because they think that anyone with a nanny is a Forest Hill snob. Umm, not quite. I remember thinking that and feeling a bit odd about it until I got used to the idea, but it really can be a good solution for some people. In Canada, excepting Quebec, daycare spots are as scarce as hen's teeth and if you can get one, it's incredibly expensive for anyone with more than one child. Plus, schlepping more than one kid to a daycare is difficult at best. In the rain or the snow? In a rural area or for anyone with a long commute? On a day when the kid is sick and you pray that the damn daycare won't turn you away? And some of us have no relatives, or relatives that are too old and disabled to look after young kids, or some of us have moms who are young enough to still have jobs and work for a living and can't work for free and watch our kids.

Lots of families use nannies to help with big families. Some have money, lots don't. Some have made a philosophical choice, some have medically fragile children who cannot go to daycare. Some have extended family like an older relative who needs care in the same house as young children.

It's just life--now if only the government would help people instead of screwing up the system so much. Sigh....

As you can see from this long extended rant, I need to get some more professional intellectual stimulation. I wasn't going to write, and then I did. I am behind on posting and commenting and reading. Not good. I keep writing and rewriting this post, and my brain has lots to get out. But writing in the house is hard because the baby is taking up my attention. Or my older son wants to know what a "period" is and I had to turn red while explaining. Or Mac wants to show me his latest Bionicle creation. And I am running my ass off because I have to run this house on my own while my husband goes off and has brilliant conversations with intelligent people and I am stuck---here. Blogging is great, but I need to get out of this house, and speak to real people in person.

I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I need something else. Maybe someone can hire me to fix the government, hmmm? Unlikely. They like it being a big goddamn disaster.

*with the exception of one commenter on my blog, and one woman I've met personally, I've only met foreign born nannies in 13 years of parenting, really.


  1. 1- I'll certainly hire you to fix the governement. What do you charge, though? Because my nanny takes up almost all my money.
    2- My nanny is Canadian, university educated, and wants to be doing her job (ie: not doing it because the job market is crap and she needs to pay off her student loans).
    3- Daycare is scarce here in Quebec too...
    4- Yes, it's great to use the brain once in a while. Great post!

  2. i'm pretty psyched about the new legislation (i'm also biased since i am a filipino-canadian!). since many of my female relatives have worked as nannies, i know how bad and also how good it can be for them.

    i wish that we had more options in ontario. it would be great to know that once i do have a kid that i'll be able to afford to have someone take care of them!

  3. Ok, ms.c, I'll bite, you make the third person I've ever met who had a caregiver who wasn't foreign. And yes, I know Daycare is scarce in Quebec, but at least it's only $7/day when you find it. I paid over $1200/month for an infant daycare spot years ago for Mac. That was obscene!

  4. well I'm Canadian born, and I worked as a nanny during my summer breaks in University. Which was awesome for me, I loved it, adn great for the parents who needed the help when the kids were out of school. But would I have done it full time after graduation? probably not, but not toally out of the question.

    I think the nanny thing is something we stick our noses up at, but would all LOVE to have one if we could.

  5. Hi,
    Great post! As a former nanny who worked in both Toronto and Vancouver, I would argue that the families that hire nannies are, to some degree, financially privileged. They may not necessarily fit the 'Forest Hill Snob' style family, but they DO have more financial resources than a majority of the families in our country. I take issue with the tax breaks that are given to families that hire nannies, because they favour higher income families and leave lower income families, who have no money at all to pay for child care, tax break or no, in the dust. What are THOSE families to do? Often the mother is forced to scale back her hours, leaving her with less earning power and less autonomy in the marriage. Canada needs to stop assuming that responsibility for social reproduction is a private issue for parents to deal with. Children are a social resource and without domestic labour and childcare, which reproduces adults' labour power and reproduces the work force in the long term, our society would fail.

    Also, privileged couples in our country are forging more egalitarian marriages on the backs of these women who come here hoping for a better life. Where the system does not care for the rights of the nannies, those who employ them absolutely must. This means, in my opinion, families who cannot afford to pay a nanny well (full time salary of more than $2000 per month, which is minimum for a person to live on in this city) simply should not attempt to hire them. I can't tell you how many times I was asked, as an experienced nanny with excellent references which stated that I was "an angel sent from God to watch over our family" (seriously)-- with all of that, women asked me to work for $8 an hour. Unacceptable, insulting. It all stems from our cultures devaluation of domestic labour and childcare, and the ideology of home as haven and housework and childcare as a "labour of love." Maybe it is a labour of love, but if a woman "labouring" on behalf of someone else's love for their children, she needs to be paid infinitely better than nannies currently are.

    I'm feeling ranty, can you tell? I'm still annoyed at the family who manipulated me into shovelling snow off their driveway! Yeah, cause that's totally something that relates to the well being of your children. Rrrg.

    Sorry, end rant. :)

  6. Nannies - I don't know where to start. It sounds like a complicated system, which makes me suspect that the government should trash half their input and get out of people's faces a bit. I actually hang out with nannies a lot here, being a SAHM in a certain income bracket, and the situation and problems facing the industry are quite different here.

    I'm glad the results came back all clear - I read it some days ago now, but haven't had a chance to comment!