Filipino newspapers in Toronto went quiet about the contract changes that Philippine Labor Attache Frank Luna have added for the live-in caregiver program. And so is Mr. Labor Attache. He’s mum at the moment on this contentious issue.
Except for the May 16-31 issue of The Philippine Reporter (www.philreporter.com/home.html) which printed my comment and another bloggers’ in their Letter To The Editor nothing else is said more about it.
The Filipino newspapers, I could understand why they’re quiet about it. The Philippine Consulate and its arm, the Philippine Labor Attache is one of their biggest advertisers. They sometimes occupy several pages of the papers for their photo opportunities and press releases. If you are an ethnic newspaper in Canada which distributes your issues for free and depends on advertising to make a profit, it’ll be foolish to piss one of your biggest advertiser. Isn’t it?
Even most Filipinos here in Toronto, they have no say, though somehow some of them would be affected by it – maybe not now, but in the future when they sponsor their love ones to be a caregiver. Maybe most think that it’s just $38 more to pay for processing this document and for majority of kababayans here, it’s peanuts.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s peanuts if it’s only for 1 person – multiply that to a thousand and you’re looking at $38,000 in the the Philippine government’s piggy bank – which will only go to the pocket of corrupt Philippine government officials. And that’s only for a thousand incoming OFW’s.
What about the caregiver support group who were asking for the scrapping of the live-in caregiver program? Nada. Not even one of them spoke on it. Whether they find it good or not.
According to a consultant I called, the pending documents regarding this addendum is already mounting in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Toronto) and many live-in caregivers with visa in their hands cannot leave Manila because of it. A comment in my post about it confirmed that their recruitment office have stopped representing live-in caregivers coming direct from the Philippines and discourages employers from signing the contract. Who knows how many more have done the same?
The main contention in this controversial contract is the Repatriation In Case Of Work Related Death clause. Does Mr. Frank Luna even know how much it would cost to repatriate a dead body to the Philippines? Here in Canada it may cost upwards the same as a brand new car (over $10,000)! Who employer in her right mind would agree to that? That is a problem of the Philippine government, not of the employer.
The Philippine government should be grateful that a Canadian employer has provided a job to a Filipino which otherwise they cannot provide for them in their own country and not burden them (the employers) with additional cost which is their (Philippine governments) responsibility in the first place. Will Canada ask the Philippine government to pay for the repatriation of a deceased Canadian working for an NGO in Manila? I guess not!
I’m sure many Filipino-Canadians doesn’t know that this new contract was probably modeled after a similar controversial memorandum by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Memorandum Circular 04 (CF-04)(www.poea.gov.ph/mc/mc4_2007_namehire.pdf).
In this memo, the POEA is pushing for a bond of $5,000 from employers of direct-hired OFW’s in case of death of the worker. It also included additional provisions or pre-qualifications for employers before they could directly hire an OFW. If you read article III of the memo, the procedure is very similar to Mr. Frank Luna’s procedure for his addendum.
This memorandum was met with fierce resistance by different Filipino workers groups in Asia, the Middle East and other places as well. See:
Eventually giving in to pressure from both workers and foreign employers, Secretary of Labor Arturo Brion suspended the implementation of this memorandum (www.poea.gov.ph/news/2008/PR_Feb2008_suspendMC4.pdf).
In Canada’s case, Mr. Frank Luna will not put a price on repatriation cost because he probably knows how much it cost here. His office as well as the Philippine consulate have been embroiled in repatrition issues regarding the death of some caregivers in the past.
The Philippines is not in a position to put pressure on Canadian employers, if this is what this directive is all about. Do we really think that the Filipina caregiver is indispensable? Think again.
If you look around Toronto nowadays, you will notice that there are a lot of Mexicans in the city now. One house that’s being constructed in my neighborhood all the workers are Mexicans. The school where my daughter goes just a year ago you don’t see any latinos. But now, latino kids are beginning to show their numbers.
Many Mexicans who are in the US who otherwise cannot get a status there are beginning to look at Canada as the next best place to be. And why not? Canada needs people and need them quick. And the Canadian dollar is going strong as well.
Now, that’s only Mexico as an example. Don’t forget other Latin countries, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, some Eastern European countries etc. See, Filipinos have plenty of competition. If the Philippine labor representative will not wise-up, the competition will eat the Philippines alive.
Remember, Canada is not Saudi Arabia or Singapore or Hong Kong where live-in caregivers do not have a chance of becoming citizens. In Canada, those workers have a great chance of becoming Canadians as well and become beneficiaries of Canada’s wealth. That’s why even if a Filipina comes here under a difficult circumstance like say a caregiver, it’s still better than Saudi or Singapore. That’s why CAnada is sought after by different worker groups.
You want to protect the Filipina worker? Review Ms. Mila Echevarria’s suggestions or Ms. Eva Agpaoa’s offer of help (Manila Media Monitor p. 9, May 2008, Year 11, No. 11).
That’s the kind of assistance our kababayans need and not some contract that does not have any “teeth”.