To many Filipinos, coming to Canada offers tantalizing opportunities in way of life, career and future of the family. Any why not? Within a few years, an opportunity to become permanent resident is just in a horizon. Or so many of Filipino caregivers in Canada thought.
The federal government program has granted permanent residence status for 75,000 Filipinos since 1992 under an attractive sales pitch: take care of our young children or seniors for just two years, and we’ll let yours come over and give everyone a shot at permanent residency.
The program has been so successful that 23,687 Filipinos arrived in Canada to benefit under the program last year alone. However, its surging popularity has made the process slow as long backlogs have piled up ever since. Currently, there are 17,600 names in the list applying for permanent residency. To counter the surge in applications Citizenship and Immigration Canada placed a cap in annual number of permanent residence grants at 5,500, and added new items in the criteria such as language and educational qualifications.
Yet the move has only meant those in the queue have to bear with further delays. Toronto Life has interviewed and shared stories of five Filipina caregivers who have shared their frustrations as they await their fate in their quest for permanent residency upgrade.
The five Filipino women, aged 38 to 49, earn salary of between C$1,400 (P49,561) to C$2,200 (P77,882), working as caregivers were featured in Toronto Life, detailing how they arrived in Canada, and how their application unraveled.
Sheila Calica, who hails from Nueva Vizcaya, arrived in Canada in October 2008 and paid $1,720 a month while sending home $570 per month. She was fired in her first two jobs, citing difficulty in handling jobs and health reasons.
Three years after arriving in Canada, she applied for permanent residence in which she was promised 36 months to process. But later she was told the application would take 39 months, making her worry, leading to stress that she had to take a couple of week off from work.
Awaiting for the coveted permanent residency grant by CIC for the past 45 months, Calica hopes one day the wait will end.
Most of the interviewees have come from various adversities — one had to escape the wrath of Mount Pinatubo in the 1990s, others had to cross-country from Dubai and Hong Kong and Calica acted as mom and dad to younger siblings — to reach Canada. But upon arrival in the country, they share similar fate, at least at the moment: overdue promise of permanent residency in Canada. The wait had been too long for Mary Jane Magat that she had to remove her son from the application since he is already over the age requirement.
But while the wait meant anxiety (and stress to some), the pay has been decent and with 50 and 63% of wages sent back to the Philippines, it is generally higher compared to working in the Hong Kong and Middle East. That might not be enough compromise to accept, as many of Filipina caregivers interviewed have not been back home for several years, missing important milestones of family members they left behind. And with no permanent residence obtained, it’s a safe bet to stay in Canada for now.
Photo credit: Toronto Life