Providing Health Care but Receiving None in Return: An Expanded Right to Health Analysis of the Live-In Caregiver Program of Canada (1992-2014)


Canada’s robust universal, single-payer healthcare system has long made socio-economic rights (SER) advocates in the United States envious of our neighbors to the north. Fundamental human rights tenants echo in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including non-discrimination and individual freedom, yet the “right to health” has not been constitutionalized at the moment this essay was written.1 While Canada has a strong track record of signing international human rights conventions and guaranteeing the right to health for permanent citizens, there remains a gap in the health rights of migrant workers, even in regular situations or formalized citizenship pathways. Ever-changing legal qualifications for permanent residency and arbitrary three-month waiting periods for healthcare coverage to come into effect make securing the right to health for even the most highly desirable workers—namely, healthcare workers in private households—a thorny task. The motto for Canada’s paradoxical commitment to the socio-economic rights of migrant workers might be, as Toronto doctors Ritika Goel and Michaela Beder aptly articulate in the title of their medical journal op-ed, “Welcome to Canada...but don’t get sick.”