Finding a Job—and a Purpose—In a New Country

Some names and situations have been changed in this story for privacy reasons.

When Edmar Mongaya arrived in Vancouver from the Philippines, he realized that he would have to do more than work hard to be a success in Canada.

"I was working in the fast food industry. It's actually higher than minimum wage, but nowhere near enough to afford an apartment in Vancouver, let alone build a life," Edmar said.

Luckily Edmar, who is from Cebu, the second-largest city in the Philippines, was able to rely on a network of friends and extended family to get started in Vancouver. He was able to rent a room in a shared house in Surrey near the Skytrain line. His commute was relatively short, but his work in Canada left him wanting more.

"Working in a restaurant there was no way to advance. It was a dead-end job," he says. "When someone suggested I look into being a care aide, I wasn't interested either. It seemed like hard work for low pay, and no way to advance."

When he learned about Classic LifeCare, a private home health care provider, Edmar realized he wanted to learn more.

"Classic is a bit different than working in a care home setting," he says. "There's more training, and more flexibility," he says. "I was able to work at Classic while studying to become an LPN."

Five years later, Edmar has a new position at Classic LifeCare, and a new life in Vancouver.

High Housing Costs and Lack of Good Jobs Make Life Difficult for Immigrants in Canada

Edmar's experience is not unique. About 20% of Canadians were born in another country. In Toronto and Vancouver, recent immigrants make up more than one-fifth of the population (23% and 21%, respectively).

While this makes Canada's two largest cities multicultural meccas, it's not always easy for new immigrants. It can be difficult for immigrants to establish a foothold.

For one thing, it's expensive to live in both cities. The cost of housing in Toronto is "troubling", while Vancouver is going through a crisis in its real estate market. For immigrants who may not be proficient in English, or who lack the extensive professional networks needed to secure a good-paying job, the cost of living in these cities a major barrier to success.

While many Canadian-born residents of Vancouver are squeezed by steep rents, immigrants have it especially hard. An immigrant typically earns just $20,000 a year; rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is at least $1,200 a month—close to $15,000 a year.

In this sort of situation, where immigrants must work multiple jobs, there is no chance to upgrade skills in order to get a better-paying job.

Working as a home care aide is one way for immigrants to increase their earning power and learn new marketable skills while performing a job that provides a meaningful service to their community.

Flexible Schedules Allow Home Care Workers to Develop Marketable Skills

"A home care position helps to build up a person’s skill set with various clients in an encouraging environment," says Cathy Lee, Operations Coordinator at Classic LifeCare. Lee works with and supports all of Classic LifeCare's care aides across British Columbia and Alberta.

Many home care workers like Edmar who started out at Classic LifeCare have gone on to become licensed practical nurses (LPN) or registered nurses (RN), Lee says.

"They go to school while working for Classic and use the skills they’ve learned in a real world environment," says Lee.

The key, says Lee, is the flexibility of a private home care provider.

"Unlike working at a care facility, our employees are not rushed to get through all of their tasks in a certain amount of time," says Lee. "It's a better, and often more nurturing work environment. And, most of all our employees have more control over their schedule."

Home care aides like Edmar can negotiate with supervisors about when they work, so they can spend more time with family, or devote time to studying to upgrade their skills.

"Some of them go to school while working for us and use the skills they’ve learned in a real world environment," says Lee. "We have nursing supervisors as well as coordinators who can help with issues they may have. We try to remind them that they are not alone when they’re working with clients."

Classic LifeCare is currently recruiting compassionate people with a background in healthcare, she says.

How to Get a Job as a Home Care Worker With Classic LifeCare

Classic LifeCare has been providing the finest home care for more than 40 years. We are accredited by Accreditation Canada, which demonstrates our commitment to quality and safety and we are a family owned and operated company.

Classic LifeCare is also unique because:

  • We are a family-owned private company, not a franchise.
  • We offer free education, a referral program, and recognize staff milestones and birthdays.
  • We offer flexibility.
  • We have long-standing employees who love their job.
  • You will be making a difference every day for our clients - helping them live in the moments that matter.

Visit classiclifecare.com/careers to apply with us.