Canada urged to rethink immigration laws for Pinoy live-in caregivers

MARK JOSEPH UBALDE, GMANews.TV
03/05/2009 | 05:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Juana Tejada’s dying wish was to stay in Canada until her last breath. Now that the 39-year-old caregiver’s request for permanent residency was granted, Tejada’s lawyers are asking the Canadian government to amend laws for live-in caregivers hoping to settle permanently there.

Immigration lawyer Rafael Fabregas told GMANews.TV via e-mail on Thursday that they are urging the Canadian government to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that live-in caregivers would no longer be required to pass a second medical exam before they are granted permanent residence.

In their joint letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, and David Tilson, M.P., chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship, Fabregas and fellow lawyer Guidy Mamann wrote:

“As you know, foreign live-in caregivers are required to pass a stringent medical examination before being issued a visa to work in Canada. When they seek permanent residence after years of working here, they should not be required to pass a second medical exam because such a requirement, as evident in Juana’s case, can have a grossly unfair and inhumane outcome.”

Tejada was lured to work in Canada in 2003 under the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), which grants foreign workers permanent residency— and an opportunity to petition their entire family — upon fulfillment of their three-year assignment as well as necessary medical and criminal clearances.

But when doctors discovered her illness during a routine medical check-up in 2006, she was told by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to leave because the treatment for her advanced cancer – discovered four years after arriving in Canada – would cause an excessive demand on Canada’s medical services.

Determined to give her family a better life, Juana appealed to waive the good-health requirement for humanitarian reasons. Her petition was denied twice.

“I have paid my dues to earn my permanent residency. I have worked hard to try to give my family a better life,” Juana told the Toronto Star in an earlier interview

Eventually, following a public campaign, CIC yielded and granted Tejada her permanent residence.

“Many Canadians have relied heavily, and continue to rely heavily on the services that live-in caregivers provide to their loved ones,” read the letter, “It is only fair that live-in caregivers should also be able to rely on Canadians to take care of them in their time of need.”

A press conference led by Fabregas will be held on March 6, at 11 am at the offices of Mamann, Sandaluk, located at 82 Richmond Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1P1 to discuss the proposed amendments.

Canada is one of the top destination countries of Filipino health care workers along with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The country had always been known to be lenient to foreign workers, and has even encouraged them to permanently stay with their family after fulfilling their contracts for some time. – GMANews.TV

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