Being an Au Pair in Canada can be a dream job. Every year, hundreds of young people from abroad head to Canada to work in childcare or find an opportunity to be an Au Pair with a Canadian family. Utilizing their temporary work permits, like the IEC working holiday program, they are coming to Canada in droves secured with employment contracts and places to stay before even setting foot on Canadian soil. Imagine not having to worry about rent, where to live or the cost of living in Canada’s larger cities! Au Pair roles are gaining popularity and this childcare model is embraced by Canadian families.
How do I apply?
Childcare in Canada (with the exception of Quebec) is generally not subsidized by the government. Due to the prevalence of dual income families, the increasing cost of childcare accompanied by recent changes made to Canada’s Caregiver program, many families have opted for the Au Pair solution. An Au Pair in Canada and potential host families find one another through on-line job matching sites. Generally they go through a series of email and skype interviews before a mutual agreement is reached offering employment. Families look anywhere from 3-12 months in advance to secure their next Au Pair and many families try to tee up their hiring with the IEC work permit release each year. Most Au Pairs stay with the same family for 6-12 months. After which, they find another family to complete their stay in Canada or travel for the remainder of their visa.
What is my role?
An Au Pair in Canada is expected to care for children and perform light housekeeping tasks for the family. It is reasonable to consider an Au Pair like a big sister for the children or an extra set of hands around the home. Tasks include assisting with chores and helping run the household when the parents are absent. Au Pairs are not nannies however, and the experience is more of a cultural exchange between Au Pair and host family than an employer/employee relationship. Often an Au Pair in Canada is invited to partake in family events and celebrations and truly become extended members of the family.
What are the perks?
Being an Au Pair in Canada is an ideal way for young people to experience the country. Nowhere is immersion greater than from within a Canadian home. The biggest benefits of working as an Au Pair includes the flexibility of work schedule (many Au Pairs get more than two days off per week) and the opportunity to travel while maintaining a home base. Depending on the family’s needs, many Au Pairs manage to travel either before, during or after the contract with their host family expires. It is also quite common for the Au Pair to have the opportunity to travel with the host family, both inside and outside of Canada. Favourite holiday spots of Canadians include Mexico, Florida, California and Hawaii. Many Au Pairs find themselves experiencing vacations with their host families. Some other perks available to the Au Pair in Canada, depending on the family they choose, include access to vehicles for personal use, passes for transit, gym memberships and cellular phone allowances. Excellent perks considering most employers cannot offer such luxuries!
Despite the unique experience of having an Au Pair in Canada, families must still abide by provincial labor standards when employing any type of live-in care for their children; thus, Au Pairs are compensated fairly. Although an Au Pair is a more affordable source of childcare than other methods (daycares, nannies etc…), Au Pairs are still able to earn a reasonable wage and “live it up” whilst in Canada. Food and lodging as well as utilities are wrapped into their employment contract. Many are able to maintain a decent disposable income for fun and/or saving for those truly Canadian adventures.
Before choosing a host family, an Au Pair in Canada can be particular about whether they prefer metropolitan or country experiences. There are families from right across the country seeking live-in childcare assistance. Whether you seek mountains and big sky, or cityscapes and ocean vistas, there are Canadian families in every location looking for their next Au Pair. The opportunities are boundless.
Advice for interested Au Pairs can be found on the Canadian Au Pair Solutions website.