Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Care changes no cure-all solution

By Wang Pin 王品

The fourth difference concerns taxation and supervision. The salary for local care workers is taxed, and they are expected to maintain records and subject themselves to supervision and on-the-job training according to government long-term care supervisory specifications. The question is, will Taiwanese and foreign care workers under the new system have to pay tax and be subject to this tedious bureaucracy?

The success of Denmark’s home help system, and the popularity of the hourly rate model, is such that there has been no need to even consider introducing and relying on foreign workers to do the job. If Taiwan is to improve its home help services, we need to look at the influence of the four variables in the light of Denmark’s experience.

Will local Taiwanese be more willing to do the job if the salaries were stable and sufficiently high?

Would the public be more likely to take advantage of the service if the available options were more flexible?

Would people be willing to accept price increases if they were happy with the quality of the service offered?

Finally, would the simplification of the supervision requirements lead to a reduction in the supervisory bodies’ administration costs?

If it is possible to fine-tune the current system to address these issues, why is there a need to bring immigrant workers into the equation?

As it happens, over the past decade, several civic groups in Taiwan have been experimenting with different forms of the home help model employing local carers, demonstrating that the answers to the above four questions are, indeed, in the affirmative.

Given that this home help system is continuously being improved, why has it taken so long for it to expand? It is because the current system and the immigrant domestic help system are run in parallel, and because the application process for foreign workers is so full of administrative loopholes.

One example would be that applicants for foreign carers are not required to go through a residence evaluation as part of the application process.

Therefore, the demand for long-term care in Taiwan has been virtually satisfied by foreign workers, whether legally or illegally. Year on year, the number of foreign workers employed as domestic help is increasing by 10,000, and now stands at more than 200,000 in Taiwan as a whole.

It is good that the CLA is attempting to improve the human rights situation for foreign workers here in Taiwan, but does this necessarily have to depend upon whether they provide hourly-charged services or 24-hour services as live-in home helpers? Can their human rights be improved by tightening up other areas of the system?

Ironically enough, now that former Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) — who fought so long to prevent differential wages for local Taiwanese and immigrant workers — has resigned, things are not looking good for the human rights of immigrants even in the proposed reform, nor for long-term care in Taiwan.

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