Friday, March 20, 2009

In Memory of Juana Tejada, Bagong Bayani par excellence

Migrante International, the global alliance of Filipino migrant workers, together with her family, met the remains of Juana Tejada, the OFW* heroine from Toronto, Canada, who finally lost her battle with cancer, at the Pair Pags Center, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Avenue in Pasay City, Philippines. (Photo Alex Felipe)

Juana Tejada, a former caregiver under Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program, was hailed a hero among OFWs and Filipino immigrants in Canada because of her key role in amending section 38(2) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada. The amendment highlighted the inclusion of the Live-in Caregiver Class to the list of applicants who should automatically be granted exemption from the “good health” requirement. This is known to as the Juana Tejada Law.

“We give our highest salute to Juana Tejada,” Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez exclaimed. “She is, indeed a female OFW par excellence, who while battling the debilitating disease of cancer, relentlessly worked for the rights and welfare of caregivers in Canada.”

It is to be remembered that last year, after she was diagnosed with cancer, Canadian authorities told her she could not stay as she would be a burden to the Canadian health care system. Tejada had been working as a caregiver in Canada for two years, fulfilling the two year eligibility period, under the Live-in Caregiver Program, for a permanent residency. Her case sparked a campaign to amend the immigration law and eventually led to the Juana Tejada Law.

Martinez continued, “Our commemoration of March 8, International Women’s Day, will certainly be more meaningful as we add Juana’s name to the list of resolute and courageous women we will remember. It is not so much her triumph but her dignity and commitment to struggle against an oppressive system is what will inspire many of us to go on with the struggle for, not only for migrants rights, but for the emancipation of the toiling masses from exploitation.”

At the airport, Migrante conducted a short tribute, while draping a Migrante banner on the coffin as a symbol of their homage to Tejada. Tejada’s remains will be brought all the way to her home province, Abra.

20 March 2009
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, Migrante International, +63 9217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison, Migrante International, +63 9212708994

*Overseas Filipino Worker

Sunday, March 15, 2009

L'ultime bataille de Melca

Melca Salvador laisse dans le deuil son fils de 12 ans, Richard. C'est Evelyn Calugay (à droite) qui a recueilli l'enfant Photo: André Tremblay, La Presse

par Isabelle Hachey La Presse

Melca Salvador était une battante. Elle s'était démenée pour améliorer son propre sort, celui de son petit garçon, celui des travailleurs immigrés qui subissent leurs malheurs en silence. Elle avait vaincu les bureaucrates fédéraux en obtenant l'asile au Canada.

Elle vient de perdre sa dernière bataille. Il y a deux semaines, Melca a été emportée par un cancer.

Retour en arrière. L'affaire Melca Salvador a éclaté en août 2000. La domestique philippine était alors sur le point d'être expulsée parce qu'elle n'avait pas respecté les règles d'un programme fédéral destiné aux aides familiales immigrées. Son crime: être tombée enceinte. Et s'être fait mettre à la porte par ses employeurs montréalais.

Cinq ans plus tôt, Mme Salvador avait quitté son archipel aux horizons bouchés. Elle avait d'abord échoué en Égypte, où elle avait fréquenté un compatriote, avant de débarquer à Montréal à l'automne 1995. Elle ne savait pas qu'elle était enceinte. Ses employeurs non plus. Quand ils l'ont découvert, deux mois plus tard, ils l'ont congédiée sur-le-champ.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Juana Tejada 1969 to 2009

Migrante-Ontario Statement
March 8, 2009
Toronto, Canada

Friends learned late today, March 8, of the death of our beloved friend Juana Tejada. Migrante Ontario extends our condolences to her husband Noli and her sister Berna. At around 9PM Juana lost her final battle. She died of cancer. (Photo Alex Felipe)

We in Migrante Ontario met Juana Tejada through her lawyer Rafael Fabregas. She was fighting for her right to stay in Canada. Juana was a caregiver that came to Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program. She finished the 24-month requirement and was eligible to apply for permanent residency. Her dream of permanently living in Canada was broken when, after going through a medical examination, she was denied her right to stay. She was diagnosed with cancer and was told that she would be a burden to the Canadian health care system.

We kickstarted a campaign along with other community groups and individuals to support her fight to stay in Canada. “It has been determined that you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for permanent resident status as a Member of the Live-in Caregiver class,” read Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s decision letter dated July 17, 2008. This decision did not come easy. Juana and her husband were put in a very difficult situation. They had to endure anxiety and emotional letdowns after her application was twice refused because she was diagnosed with terminal illness. But despite frustrations, Juana remained persistent and confident. Through her lawyer, she challenged the previous decisions, and subsequently made an appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

After her victory, she continued to advocate for the changes to the Live-in Caregiver program. Along with her lawyer, Migrante and other community groups, she pushed for the amendment of the immigration law, in particular, calling to amend section 38(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act immediately by adding members of the Live-in Caregiver Class to the list of applicants who should automatically be granted exemption from the “good health” requirement. This is known to most of us as The Juana Tejada Law.

Just two hours before her passing, around 15 of us held a prayer vigil at the Toronto General Hospital. We talked about her and the campaign that she started. “As we gather today to be one with Juana in the final stages of her battle with cancer, I cannot help but situate this battle in the context of the larger struggle against the cancer plaguing Philippine society – the cancer that is slowly killing our compatriots in the Philippines - the social cancer of poverty, landlessness, the absence or lack of jobs that pushed Juana Tejada to leave the Philippines in the first place,” said Ricky Esguerra of the Filipino Migrant Workers Movement.

Juana tirelessly campaigned until she was brought to the hospital. We were inspired by her courage and her commitment was contagious. We know only too well the importance of this campaign and the importance of her contribution to the fight to improve the lives of caregivers in Canada.

As we grieve the loss of our friend, we also commit to pick up where she left off and continue the fight that she started.

Rest in Peace Juana


Migrante-Ontario member organizations:
Filipino Migrant Workers Movement; AWARE; Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture (PATAC); Damayan Migrant Education and Resource Center; Migrante Youth; Migrant Workers and Family Resource Center - Hamilton; Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada (PMSC) - Ottawa; Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie (PMB) - Barrie

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Shift in Canadian Immigration Policy and Unheeded Lessons of the Live-in Caregiver Program

This is an interesting and important analysis by researcher Salima Laliani of recent changes in Canadian immigration policy; it also coincides with the subject of a documentary project we are presently working on entitled: The end of immigration?

Marie & Malcolm

The Shift in Canadian Immigration Policy and Unheeded Lessons of the Live-in Caregiver Program
Ottawa, Canada
February 2009

Summary of the report:

This report elaborates the shift in immigration policy which began unfolding in Canada from the 2006 expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, culminating in June 2008, with the amendment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It shows how this shift has been modeled on some of the weakest elements of the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), the longest standing immigration program offering temporary migrant workers the possibility of permanent residency.

Presenting figures never calculated before on the LCP – estimated retention rates, or a measure of the success of the Program in retaining temporary migrant workers as permanent residents – the report demonstrates that only 50 per cent of migrant live-in caregivers entering Canada from 2003-2005 became permanent residents by 2007. Calculated yearly for the period, 2003- 2007, the estimated retention rate falls to 28 per cent by 2005.

It is thus argued that the shift from permanent residency to temporary migration as a basis for the immigration system will not lead to building citizenship and labour supply in Canada. It is further argued that this is due to the inordinate amount of power granted by government to employers in the migrant worker employer relationship.

Testimonies of temporary migrant caregivers documented from the 1990s are used to illustrate this power imbalance. Judging from the pro-employer reorientation of Canada’s immigration system, federal and provincial governments have not learned from testimonies presented by feminist advocates over the past 20 years.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Les travailleuses domestiques veulent être couvertes par la CSST comme les autres travailleurs

Le ministre du Travail du Québec est accusé de faire preuve de discrimination à leur égard

Claude Turcotte - Le Devoir (Montréal)

Édition du lundi 23 février 2009
Photo: Jacques Nadeau

Au cours d'une conférence de presse donnée le dimanche 22 février dans Côte-des-Neiges, en plein cœur d'un quartier d'immigrants, des représentantes des travailleuses domestiques ont demandé d'être enfin automatiquement couvertes par la CSST en cas de maladie ou d'accident de travail.

Après trois ans d'attente et de demandes répétées d'une rencontre avec le ministre du Travail du Québec, la Coalition menant la lutte pour que les travailleuses domestiques bénéficient d'une couverture automatique de la Commission de la santé et sécurité du travail (CSST) en cas de maladie ou d'accident au travail revient encore une fois à la charge, en ajoutant quelques arguments de poids dans sa cause."

(Translation: "Domestic workers want to be covered by same health and safety legislation as other workers: Quebec labour minister accused of discriminating against them" This article appeared in Montreal daily newspaper, Le Devoir, on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.)

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