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Philippine Migrants Society of Canada (PMSC)

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Juana Tejada Law and other changes to LCP: Victory to all caregivers

“Orthodox historians have presented history as a succession of exploits of eminent personalities, leading many of us to regard history as the product of gifted individuals. …. We must discard the belief that we are incapable of producing the heroes of our epoch, that heroes are exceptional beings, accidents of history who stand above the masses and apart from them. The true hero is one with the masses: … does not exist above them. In fact, a whole people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of their dreams.”   (Renato Constantino, Veneration without Understanding)

The people and the people alone make their own history. In the end, it is they who are the real heroes. And so the caregivers with different sectors of the community, through their own campaigns, in different forms and across the country scored victories.

In this context, Migrante-Ontario welcomes the proposed new regulations to the Live-in Caregiver Program announced last Saturday, December 12 by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny. 

The proposed changes include the Juana Tejada Law which eliminates the required second medical examination for caregivers when applying to become permanent residents in Canada. 

This is indeed a great honour for the late Juana Tejada who, together with Migrante-Ontario and its allied organizations, and the Independent Workers’ Association, advocated for the elimination of the second medical requirement so that other caregivers would not suffer the same sad experience she had went through.

It was Juana Tejada who exposed this ambiguity in the immigration system.  She risked her status and fought the threat of deportation so that other caregivers like her could have better protection of their rights.  It was she who, with the help of her lawyer Raffy Fabregas and numerous advocates and activists and the community in general, pushed the immigration officials to act in the right direction.  If there is someone to be called “champion and hero” for the gains caregivers just won, it was Juana Tejada.  She is, in this sense, a true “champion and hero” of the Filipino people in Canada.      

Other significant changes include: eligibility of caregivers to apply for residency after completing 3,900 hours of employment done in a minimum of 22 months;   allowing caregivers to use part [10% only] of their overtime work to be counted in the new hours-based calculation; allowing caregivers to complete the work requirement from three to four years; requiring employers to pay for “travel cost for live-in caregivers to come to Canada, medical insurance until live-in caregivers become eligible for provincial health coverage, and workplace safety insurance and any recruiting fees owed to third parties;” setting up of a dedicated telephone hotline for caregivers; emergency processing of work permits; and, blacklisting of erring employers for two years.

Minister Kenney’s announcement came a few days after the Ontario Parliament passed Bill-210 into law. The new Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act bans employment agencies or recruiters from charging live-in caregivers placement or recruitment fees.  It also prohibits the practice of taking a caregiver's personal documents such as a passport or work permit.

These initiatives – both federal and provincial - bring significant changes to the LCP.  We say this is a victory for all caregivers and the community. 

Still let us not forget that implementation of these new measures requires our vigilant monitoring.  And while there is reason for us to rejoice, celebrating this as a victory in the right direction, we continue to exert efforts working towards other fundamental changes to the LCP like making the live-in requirement optional, issuing job-specific instead of employer-specific work-permits, looking into acceptable wage rates, ensuring the safety and well-being of caregivers for the duration of their stay in the employers’ home, among other things.  We then reserve our right to comment on the proposed regulations during its 30-day comment period.

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Tinig ng Bayan is the official publication of Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada (PMSC) and is produced and published about four times a year by PMSCs Newsletter Committee.

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