MP Upset Fewer Visas For Filipino Caregivers

MP Upset Fewer Visas For Filipino Caregivers

March 2, 2009

TORONTO — The number of Filipino caregivers being allowed to come to Canada to work has been slashed almost in half, says a Liberal MP, who is accusing Ottawa of targeting health-care providers from the Philippines.

Jim Karygiannis said his office has been fielding calls from Toronto Filipinos whose relatives can't obtain visas in Manila to travel here to work as live-in caregivers, even though they are qualified and in demand.

His office has obtained statistics from Immigration Canada that show the rejection rate for caregivers rose from 35% to 66% from 2006 to 2008 at the Canadian visa office in Manila.

He said the badly needed care-givers, who look after children, seniors, disabled or those with special needs, are travelling to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore to snag a visa to work in Canada.

“This is very frustrating for the community,” said Yolanda Ladines, president of the Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians. “These people are well-trained and well-qualified to help Canadians.”

Ladines said it now takes 18 months to get a response from the Manila visa office.

The statistics show 66% — or 2,240 — of the 3,400 Filipino care-givers who applied to come here from Manila last year were refused visas.

“They are forcing people who want to apply from the Philippines to go elsewhere,” Karygiannis said. “There is strong demand for these workers in Canada.”

He was before an Immigration Standing Committee in Ottawa last week seeking answers.

“If things haven't changed in Manila, then why has the refusal rate doubled in the last two years?” Karygiannis asked Claudette Deschenes, an immigration assistant deputy minister, in a Hansard transcript obtained by Sun Media.

Deschenes said the role for care-givers has changed over the last few years.

It has “become much more of a family reunification move than one of legitimate live-in caregivers,” she said.