Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Truth and Consequences: Exploiting Human Capital

"All my friends said Canada was the best place. There are good opportunities for work, and soon I would be able to bring my family to live with me."
Zeny Delmado, Philippine-Toronto nanny

"The entire Filipino community in Canada numbers about 400,000. Most can trace their immigration to the LCP, [Canada's Live-in Caregiver Program] either as direct applicants or family.
"The export of labour is the Filipino government's policy to resolve its economic problems, but it's also an instrument in the trafficking of Filipino women. By design, Canada's LCP is part of this trafficking by receiving the goods. There's no thought to the consequences."
Filipino-Canadian activist Cecilia Diocson, founder, Philippine Women's Centre of B.C.

"We had no childhoods. Our moms were looking after other people's children in countries we couldn't even visit."
Karen Marita, 19, single mother, Philippine shantytown slum

"Our mothers left for money, so we could have better futures. It's how this foreign migration is sold. But we have no futures here."
Jocelyn Cabigas, teen single mother of two, Barangay Catmon slum, Manila

Canada has developed an immigration initiative titled the Live In Caregiver Program (LCP) because of which many Filipino women view migrating to Canada as a home worker as their first choice. In Canada higher-than-average salaries prevail under the LCP, along with better working conditions, not to be compared to the injustices suffered by Filipinos working in Middle East Countries and places like Hong Kong where their presence is viewed as a license for abuse.

Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are among the most notorious abusers.
Relatives of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia protest against the conditions their family members face working in the oil-rich kingdom. Bullit Marquez / AP

Under Canada's LCP a number of conditions must be met before those working within the program can be considered permanent residents. These are largely women from the Philippines whose families live in severely deprived socio-economic conditions with a scarcity of employment to serve their fundamental human survival needs. But the women arrive in Canada alone, leaving their children back in the Philippines with a husband or other close family members to care for them.

Until they finally receive permanent residency, none of these women is able to apply to have their husbands and children join them in Canada. And since the process for permanent residency takes years for completion, requiring two years of residency home work before an application can be filled, and then a wait of years before the approval is finally validated, it is a heartbreakingly long interval before family reunification.

It is, to begin with, the opportunity to achieve citizenship that constitutes the mos emphatic draw to Canada for these nannies forced to seek employment abroad and in so doing suffering separation from those whom they love and who love them. Roughly 100,000 Filipino women have been accepted into the LCP since early 1990, representing almost 90% of any nationality signed onto the program. Over ten thousand Filipinas arrived annually at its peak, recently declined to about 6,000.

For the past forty years the Philippines has developed an assertive labour-export program. According to the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration, in 2012 almost one and a half million Filipinos left to work abroad, a figure that takes into account only those with documented work permits so the true figure is likely double the official one. Without the money sent home by workers abroad the country would be in dire financial straits.

Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) account for about $5-billion sent back home annually to the Philippines. Their sacrifices are considered heroic by the Government of the Philippines. The Philippine Social Welfare Department has tracked the human cost of its foreign worker program. Reporting that the long separation and absence from families of the mother working abroad has resulted in 40% of those families experiencing social problems.

High school dropout rates are common, along with unwanted teen pregnancies and destructive drug use, the severity of the situation commensurate with the length of time the children are deprived of their mothers' presence. Although workers in Canada are treated humanely in comparison with the situation they face in many other countries of the world taken to task by human rights groups, the situation remains a dismal one for those involved.

Toronto-area MP Olivia Chow of the NDP put forward a motion in 2009 as a private member's bill in the House of Commons to consider caregivers entering Canada in just the same way as entrepreneurs are treated; issuing permanent residency on arrival, and in this way paving the way for a much earlier family reunification. The motion was never brought to a vote, expiring during the last federal election.

"We can't have it both ways. We can't take the talents of others and force them to leave their children behind. We need to see workers as not just economic units, but their families. It's how we build healthy communities." She charges that the citizenship enticement makes light of the long wait and separation, banking on the desperation of people for employment to support their families to win the battle of needed home care workers in Canada.

The women who do make that decision to leave their homes and their country and their children behind know that they are embarked on a work trip abroad that involves great personal risk. They call it 'Pakikipagsapalaran", and they accept the risk as Canada's immigration bureaucrats point out.

But sometimes the imagination is beggared by the realities of life, when people simply cannot imagine how dreary and empty life can become when faced with a catastrophic loss of quality of life, the cost of economic mobility.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet