by Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN News
ALBERTA, CANADA — A stumbling block on many kababayans dream to permanently stay in the Canada.
The Alberta province recently implemented a 24-month ban on the hiring of temporary foreign workers in 29 skilled occupations.
“Like welders, carpenter, pipe fitters and many others… for me, I have a son who is a welder back home in the Philippines, and he can no longer come over here because of that 29 skilled occupations being banned here in Alberta,” said Claro Cagulada, an Edmonton resident. “I hope that the provincial government will reconsider this development soon.”
The province of Alberta’s ban aims prioritize the hiring of Canadian or permanent residents.
Jobs under this category are on a “refuse to process list” — bad news for many kababayans counting on the TFW program to enter and be eligible for permanent residency in Canada.
Severely affected are those who entered Canada through a work permit, and were counting on obtaining permanent residency through their high skilled occupation experience.
“Hindi maganda kasi marami tayong mga kababayan lalu na yung nandito pa nga they are still foreign workers wala silang pag-asa na makapag apply sa 29 skilled occupations na yun lalu’t na may mga qualifications sila,” said Mandy Servito, council of Edmonton Filipino Associations. “At saka ang mga kabayan natin na sa Pilipinas pa wala silang chance na para mag apply dita sa Alberta.”
Herbert Ortillano of Nasipit, Agusan del Norte entered Canada in 2008 through the temporary foreign worker program.
Like many kababayans with a high skilled occupation, he was able to obtain permanent residence status.
“The company sponsored me to apply for permanent residence, I brought my family here,” said Ortillano. “I understand that the economy is not good. During my time the Alberta economy was good; that’s why they hired foreign workers.”
Employment and social development Canada says the 29 skilled occupations were chosen because there is a sufficient pool of unemployed Canadians or permanent residents with those skills in Alberta.
The recession and high unemployment hitting Alberta, especially in its oil and gas industry — the largest sector who hires foreign workers — has become the reason for this new initiative in the province.
But the federal government is also watching this pilot program to see if it can be implemented federally or in other provinces as well.