Navigating the Grid: A Migrant Worker’s Mobility in Toronto
Image 5.1 A city map shows Marites’ mobility in Toronto from arriving to settling down.
Crisscrossing the City
Marites’ first employer lived in Thornhill, quite far from the house where Jane and her friends were living. A week after starting her new job however, the family decided they no longer needed Marites’ services. Fortunately, Marites was able to find another caregiver position with a family that lived much closer to her sister. After a year of employment with this family, Marites chose not to renew her contract causing her to once again move to an unfamiliar part of the city.
This movement around the city is not unusual for live-in caregivers as the situations of their employers often change and many are forced to find new placements. Because steady employment is a requirement of the LCP, many domestic workers scramble to find work and will move across the city for a job if necessary. Moving around the city in this way was daunting for Marites, but also helped her become more familiar and comfortable living in Toronto.
Image 5.2 Marites Navarro’s Certificate of Graduation as Bachelors of Science in Medical Technology. Issued by Manila Central University.
While Marites initially found herself working as a live-in caregiver in Toronto, she did not see this job as a permanent placement. She grew very close to her third employer who encouraged Marites to return to school in order to pursue an alternative career. With this support, Marites started working towards receiving a certificate from the Ontario Society of Medical Technologists. After graduating, Marites left her position as a live-in caregiver and began working as a medical technician, thereby returning to the career path she had abandoned in the Philippines.
Image 5.3 The letter confirming Marites’ eligibility to be a Medical Lab Technologist in the province of Ontario.
After finding work as a medical technician Marites moved into her own apartment located in a predominantly Filipino area of Toronto. In 1991, Marites returned to the Philippines to marry Albert, and three years later Marites gained her citizenship and gave birth to her daughter Alysha. Eventually the family bought a house in the Malvern neighbourhood of Scarborough and moved across the city once more. Having spent the greater part of her life in transition, becoming a homeowner, making a career change, and starting a family grounded Marites and symbolized her self-proclaimed “hitting the mark” in coming to Canada.
Audio 5.1 Marites reflecting on her career.
Marites had an employer who supported her decision to pursue an alternative career.
How should we think about the relationship between employers and live-in caregivers?
What role, if any, should employers play in the lives of the people they hire?