Tenzin sat across from me with a shy smile and an inquisitive look, as if wondering why on earth I would want to interview her about her experience as a caregiver. Caregiving is her career and passion, but it’s also just a normal part of her life. Why is there a whole research project to study it?

Tenzin grew up in India as a permanent refugee, constantly living in fear that she could be sent back to Tibet. “If I stayed back in India I would have never become a citizen there. So I decided, for a better future for my family, that I would move to Canada,” recalled Tenzin.

Arriving in Canada in 2012 as a landed permanent resident, Tenzin got a job at a local cafe and studied part time at George Brown to be certified as a nurse in Canada. She left her family back in India, planning to sponsor them to come to Canada in the future. Tenzin now works as an on-call nurse at a hospital and as a Personal Support Worker for a 102 year old man named Bill, and she volunteers at the Toronto Rehab Centre on her days off to provide further support to those who can’t afford it.

Tenzin’s radiates positive light and energy when talking about caregiving. “I love this job because it really satisfies me, and I find it’s very noble and compassionate to help others.” People often assume that migrant women are forced into the field of caregiving, and wouldn’t choose that career path if they had other options. Tenzin challenges this idea, and shows us the nobility and importance of caregiving

This doesn’t mean she faces no difficulties. An issue she highlights is the lack of job security. “At the nursing home the job is kind of secure for me… but as a private caregiver it’s a little bit difficult because once your client passes away you don’t have a job, and then you have to again look for another client…so your job is not secure… and job security is really important to me.” On top of a lack of job security, Tenzin explains that “it is kind of risky too because the family member is not here. So if something happens to the client, you are responsible for everything.”

Tenzin’s choice to be a caregiver is fuelled by her desire to help people. Her story is an important one because it brings agency back into the conversation about caregiving, and shows the love and compassion that motivates many to give service to others within the industry.

You are welcome to access and use a printable PDF version of this story.

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$31.02/hour

Average hourly wage for General Duty Registered Nurse in Ontario

$16.50 per hour

Average hourly wage for Personal Support Workers in Ontario

42%

Of all Personal Support Workers in Ontario are visible minorities (compare to 22.8% of the total Ontario population)

8.6%

Registered Nurses employed in Canada educated internationally (2010)

10.9%

Registered Nurses in Canada employed in Geriatrics/Long-term Care (2010)

3.1%

Registered Nurses in Canada employed in Home Care (2010)