History of Au Pair Movement in Canada

Beautiful Vancouver CityThe au Pair movements were first authorized between Canada, France and Germany in March, 1970 as a result of requests from the German Government, a private placement agency in France and a private placement agency in Toronto. They were subsequently expanded to include movements between Canada, Switzerland and Australia; however, the latter movement did not become operational due to delays in deciding upon placement responsibility.

While young women in France, Germany and Switzerland availed themselves of the opportunities offered as Au Pair in Canada, there was a lack of interest on the part of Canadian women. There was a strong demand for Au Pair in urban areas; however, this service was provided almost exclusively in the Toronto area by one private placement agency, which charged a fee for its services.

In 1975, it was decided to end the original program. Then, in 1990, an Au Pair Study Canada Program pilot project was established by External Affairs and the Canadian Coalition of In-Home Care, The pilot was based in Toronto and Ottawa and was administered by the Canadian Federation of Students. The coalition was not given this role due to its association with profit-making placement agencies. Because the pilot was a social-cultural exchange, it did not compete with the Foreign Domestic Movement. Pilot participants aged 18 to 28 learned about Canada and its culture by attending school and living with a Canadian family. In exchange for room and board and $80 a week, youth did light housekeeping and childcare not exceedingly a week maximum of 24 hours. External Affairs invested approximately $40,000 in start-up funding.
After one-year of operation, the pilot was discontinued. Only 100 youth had participated in the project. Failure was attributed to several things, including employers wanting more help than the 24 hour-weekly maximum and the lack of capacity on the part o the Canadian Federation of Students to recruit foreign youth.
Since then, there have been some representations to support an Au Pair Program in Canada. Further proposals would need to address issues that have arisen in the part, such as:

  • What type of protection against abuse and exploitation could be offered to participants in view of the lack of protection offered under provincial employment standards legislation for part-time domestic workers?
  • How and where would participants be chosen and by whom?
  • How would the problems which arose during the previous pilot project be avoided?
  • What fees would be charged to the youth participants and the Canadian families?
  • What costs would be covered by the federal government, by the Canadian families and by the participants?
  • How would an Au Pair program differ from the current live-in Caregiver Program?

    As the idea behind an Au Pair program is a cultural exchange, it requires other countries who would be willing to reciprocate and Canadians who are willing to go abroad and do this type of temporary part-time work. As noted above, this was the major downfall of the previous programs. However, should you wish to submit a proposal for an Au Pair Program, please send it to:

    Temporary Resident Policy and Programs
    300 Slater Street, 7th Floor
    Ottowa, Ontario
    K1A 1L1

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