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Local Filipinos protest Philippine Labor Secretary visit and B.C. government’s recruitment

by Pesante-USA Thursday, Feb. 07, 2008 at 8:52 AM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Around 20 local progressive Filipinos and their supporters rallied last night outside an exclusive dinner for Philippine Secretary of Labour and Employment, Arturo Brion hosted by the Philippines-Canada Trade Council. Brion was in Vancouver to sign a new agreement with the B.C. government which seeks to attract 30,000 workers per year with specific skills from outside B.C.

SIKLAB – B.C. (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers) Press Release

Local Filipinos protest Philippine Labor Secretary visit and B.C. government’s recruitment of temporary foreign workers

30 January 2008

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Around 20 local progressive Filipinos and their supporters rallied last night outside an exclusive dinner for Philippine Secretary of Labour and Employment, Arturo Brion hosted by the Philippines-Canada Trade Council. Brion was in Vancouver to sign a new agreement with the B.C. government which seeks to attract 30,000 workers per year with specific skills from outside B.C.

“We are here in the freezing cold to protest Brion’s visit because we know the devastating impacts that temporary worker programs like the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) are having on our community,” said Glecy Duran, Chairperson of SIKLAB-BC (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers). “The recent tragic death of 15-year old Deward Ponte and 20 years of the LCP has resulted in negative impacts for Filipino women and their families including poor working conditions, abuse and the trauma of family separation and reunification,” she said. “We don’t want to see more of these problems in our community because of these deals being signed behind closed doors.”

SIKLAB, the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance, Filipino-Nurses Support Group and the Philippine Women Centre of B.C. organized the rally. The groups called to scrap the LCP and spoke out about the expansion of the temporary foreign workers program saying, “these programs cause further oppression and economic oppression of migrant workers, a majority of whom are from the Philippines.”

Chuck Puchmayr, NDP Opposition Labour Critic, said it is not in Canada’s best interest to condone the exploitation of these migrant workers. Fred Muzin of the Hospital Employees’ Union criticized the B.C. government’s privatization of healthcare and supported the call to scrap the LCP and stop the expansion of temporary foreign worker programs as a Canadian issue.

Joe Barrett of the B.C.-Yukon Territory Building Construction Trades Council also criticized the agreement saying many construction workers are already experiencing poor working conditions under temporary worker programs. The Alliance for People’s Health also attended the rally.

Community members at the rally were surprised to discover that Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Jose S. Brillantes, was in fact inside the ‘invitation-only’ dinner. The Ambassador had conveyed to members and SIKLAB and PWC in his meeting with the Filipino community in Vancouver on December 7, 2007, that they should bring their concerns about the plight of overseas Filipino workers and their families in Canada to Secretary Brion as it is his portfolio. Despite Brillantes’ suggestion that the groups meet with Brion during his visit to Vancouver, both he and Brion avoided the community members not invited to the dinner by entering the gathering through a back door.

Brion was reported in the media to be setting up an office to “provide support and social services for Filipino workers in B.C.” B.C. Minister of Economic Development Colin Hansen was reported in the media saying, “we want this to be a very good and positive experience for those individuals…”

SIKLAB-B.C. expressed confidence that the Filipino community and Canadian people will do what they could to make sure the Philippine and B.C. governments, unlike othertimes, keep those promises.

The Philippines is the third largest source of immigrants for B.C. and the fourth in Canada.

For more information, please contact: Sean Parlan at 604-215-1103 or e-mail: siklab@kalayaancentre.net

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