by Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN News
EDMONTON — The recent announcement made by the Canadian government — that they will no longer accept applications for permanent residency from caregivers by November 2019 — has participants of this program in panic.
Many of those affected are kababayans, as Filipinos rank as the top source of caregivers in Canada.
Caregivers and their rights advocates gathered over the weekend in Edmonton to discuss the issues facing caregivers.
“The issues that caregivers are facing now are very much the same that caregivers face 20 years ago. There’s been victories, small victories here and there but they were taken back,” said Connie Sorio, Migrant Justice and Asia Partnerships, Kairos.
“Nag attend po ako kasi nag struggle po ako sa sitwasyon ko ngayon kasi po caregiver po ako na pumasok dito sa Canada,” said Margie Lingbaoan. “Gusto ko na rin malaman ano ba ang mga karapatan ko bilang caregiver kong ano pa po yong dapat kong gawin.”
In response, Canada’s immigration, refugee and citizenship department assured caregivers that there is and will always be a pathway for them to apply for permanent residency.
In 2018 the federal government announced it targets to bring in some 310,000 new immigrants, including new caregivers and economic class workers.
They also assured caregivers they will eliminate or reduce the backlog in the processing of permanent residency application.
But this was not the case for some kababayans.
“I’ve been here for seven years already tapos nag submit po ako ng application ko by 2013 ang problema ko po dito bakit hanggan ngayon hindi pa po ako na aprob at wala po akong sagot sa immigration na kahit ano tungkol sa application,” said Lingbaoan.
Canada’s caregiver program is currently under review by the federal government. Advocates say a change in permanent residency opportunities for caregivers would discourage many Filipinos from migrating to Canada.
“If Canada is really going to take away the permanent residency I don’t think of lot of caregivers would want to come here,” said Sorio. “First of all its cold, secondly its very far and despite the skype and despite all the apps caregivers are able to connect with their children and families on a regular basis. I think more caregivers opt to work in Hong Kong or nearby countries in the Philippines. The only draw to come here is the permanent residency opportunity.”
Canadian immigration plans to announce its decision to either replace or make the programs permanent before it ends in 2019.