Time For Canada To Give Some Care

June 2nd, 2015

During a recent diplomatic visit to Canada made by Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines, the government of Canada announced that the Philippines was the top source country for new Canadian immigrants in 2014, ousting China and India to claim the top spot.

In one sense, this is not a major surprise. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos who have made the move to Canada display traits that are quintessentially Canadian — a strong work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, humility, close family ties, and the list goes on. The Caregiver Program (formerly the Live-In Caregiver Program) and Canada’s Family Class Sponsorship Programs have allowed many Filipinos to arrive, transition to permanent resident status and, in many cases, sponsor family members to join them in Canada. Within the broader Filipino community in Canada, we have observed success after success of small communities that have flourished across the country.

And so it was with some degree of frustration over the last couple of weeks that I read a couple of stories in which Filipinos have been poorly treated by a Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry that often lacks compassion and foresight when it comes to assessing certain files.

Take, for example, the case of Jazmine Talosig. Jazmine’s mother, Karen, came to Canada seven years ago to work as a caregiver and, at the same time, provide for her young family back home. Four years ago, Karen made an application to sponsor her now 14-year-old daughter to immigrate to Canada, but Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has, belatedly, rejected the application. Why? Because she happens to be deaf, and is deemed inadmissible on medical grounds.

The story made it to the floor of the House of Commons, where Liberal MP Hedy Fry asked “The B.C. School for the Deaf says the child is proficient in American Sign Language and it is no more cost to educate her than any other child. So is this the government’s new discriminatory immigration policy? That deaf persons need not apply?” The immediate response from the government was shameful, with Conservative MP Costas Menegakis accusing Fry of “playing politics with immigration cases,” adding that “highly-trained officers” overview immigration cases. (The fact that just a couple of days later the Toronto Star reported a “high error rate” in CIC’s methods is telling when one thinks of cases such as this one, but that’s a whole other story.)

It was an attempted muzzling of a genuine question from an MP trying her best to represent a constituent. If what Ms Fry said on the floor of the House of Commons is true and the cost to educate Jazmine is no more than it would be for any other child, and if that was the reason why the application has not been successful, then Jazmine’s case should not be rejected on medical inadmissibility grounds.

Consider also the case of Hazel Penullar who, as the Toronto Star reported over the weekend, came to Canada from the Philippines in 2007 as a live-in caregiver and applied for permanent resident status in July, 2010, as soon as she met the employment requirement. Today, she is still waiting to get her papers and be joined by her daughter, Denise, 17, and son, Jabez, 9, and says that it feels like CIC is ‘killing her softly’.

In neither of these cases should the fact that the affected parties are Filipino nationals be a positive or negative determining factor. Canadian law already makes it illegal for governments to discriminate on ethnicity, religion or nationality in immigration cases. However, application timelines of four or five years are unacceptable, particularly for those who are already making positive economic and social contributions to Canada. A timeline of four or more years that results in an unjust negative outcome for the sponsored person is even more unacceptable. What these Filipino applicants are asking for is a greater degree of transparency and procedural fairness. Is that too much to ask?

I hope that cases such as these do not erase the good will that has built up between Filipinos and Canadians over recent years. The Filipino community in Canada is made up of proud, hard-working individuals and families that give more to our country than they could ever take back. Let’s keep it that way.


 
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11 Responses to “Time For Canada To Give Some Care”

  • On June 3rd, 2015, Dawn Zabel said ...

    It is a relief to have someone actually call Canada out in this way. It is not right to treat any applicants who give Canada the honour of wanting to come to Canada, in this shabby manner. However, this is not just happening to these people. I am from the UK and my application has been completely messed up. These people are completely incompetent, yes, but they at CIC are arrogant and smug, which makes it so much worse. This government office should be given a major overhaul and should be made to be accountable both to the government and to the people who are the reason they have a job. The whole process is shambolic, what you would expect from a third world country. And peoples lives and families MATTER you know?

  • On June 4th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    I’m working so hard here in Canada while I miss my family s much!

  • On June 4th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    Well-crafted! Very well said Mr. Cohen!

  • On June 4th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    Thanks to the likes of you Mr. Cohen. The world becomes a better place to live, not only in Canada or course. Kudos!!

  • On June 5th, 2015, Ma. Donata Dizor Radaza said ...

    Sir, as a Filipino I am elated with pride and grateful to hear that many countries appreciate our culture and working attitude. Yes, I agree with your statement that we give more than we receive, that’s our nature because we are truly grateful of the compassion of the countries who accept us and believe our talents and capabilities. Thank you very much for the articles making us Filipinos feel important and proud of ourselves. More power and God bless…

  • On June 8th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    Insensitivity to simple matters of compassion is typical of government as compassion cannot be codified. But having lived in the Philippines for 7 years, I say that positive generalizations regarding filipinos are unrealistic. Only those who live here can really say much that is accurate. The poverty and desperation here produce a lot of things that formerly naive Canadians like me would not believe possible.

  • On June 11th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    A friend of mine had worked hard in Canada for 5 years when she applied for PR she and her family was refused because one of his daughter was inadmissible due to health problems. My friend went home because her daughters conditions worsen. Then after 2 years she re applied for work permit she, it was the same employer, same position with Positive LMO but, was refused the reason stated “she is not qualified”. Her employer was frustrated on the result and asked “How come that she is not qualified”?

  • On June 21st, 2015, Lyn said ...

    My sister-in-law who is a citizen in Canada filed a family application for us through Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. It has been 7 years now and we have not heard any updates.

  • On June 24th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    We don’t know what are the reasons behind too long processing time for the live in caregivers permanent residency. There are no transparency on what is going on on our applications.When you call c.i.c they will say they are doing background checking . What I can’t figure out is the difference in express entry category that they can do background check and etc in 3-6 months of processing time only and to be given an approval. It doesn’t sound fair at all.

  • On June 25th, 2015, Mike said ...

    Not just Filippinos, I’m English and got treated the same way 10 years ago!

  • On August 19th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    If you can afford a caregiver, then you can afford to stay home and give care yourself. Hence, there is no need for the caregiver program and it should be eliminated altogether.

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