NOTE: For information on how this blog came about, go to the Press Release of the Philippine Labor Attache as published in The Philippine Reporter (which can be downloaded in their archive section at www.philreporter.com) and the reprint of the article questioning the new contract titled New LCP Contract Scares Canadian Employers Away…..
[hmtad name=”250x250post” align=”floatleft”]Recently, the labor attache of the Philippines to Canada, Frank Luna, came out with a directive that before a Filipino/Filipina live in caregiver will be allowed to leave the Philippines for Canada to work as a caregiver, an additional contract must be signed by her/his employer (The Philippine Reporter, Issue April 16-30, 2008 – pages 13 and 30).
This addition is also the subject of an article in same paper, titled “New LCP Contract Scares Canadian Employers Away” (The Philippine Reporter, issue April 16-30, 2008 – page 24) and the continuation, titled “LCP Flawed, Needs Major Changes” (The Philippine Reporter, issue May 1-15, 2008 – page 15).
The press release by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office which can be found on page 13 of the paper states:
Addendum to Employment Contract. The employer undertakes to be responsible for:
1) Cost of 2-way transportation to and from Canada;
2) Health coverage for the employee before the provincial health insurance applies;
3) Termination of employment shall only be for cause;
4) In case of work-related death, cost of repatriation of remains to the Philippines;
That “short” addition to the contract must be forwarded to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Toronto and have to be paid a signature verification fee of US$10 and another CAD$28.75 for consular authentication fee.
Now the question is – how will this “new” additions protect the live-in caregiver?
In case the employer reneged on the signed agreement, how will the Philippine Overseas Labor Office plan to implement any “serious” penalty for violation of those addendum, like say “a day in jail”?
To answer those questions, let us take a look at this additions…..
The first one – the cost of 2-way transportation to and from Canada that must be shouldered by the employer;
In the Labor Market Opinion of Service Canada for the live-in caregiver program, this requirement IS NOT existing (LMO-LCP2 or see screenshot here) and (LMO-LCP1 or see screenshot here) – but the office of the labor attache instead quoted the Expedited Labor Market Opinion for temporary workers for Alberta and British Columbia ( E-LMO) repeatedly in their press releases (The Philippine Reporter, Letter To The Editor, issue May 1-15, 2008 – page 14) and also at another paper (Atin Ito, Vol. 33 No. 4, April 2008 – page 1).
Now, I’m not very good in regulations or any kind of law for that matter but it seems, this are two different set of rules – one for the live-in caregiver program and one for the temporary worker program (E-LMO).
Let’s take a shortcut and include the remaining directives from Philippine Overseas Labor Office new contract which are: health coverage for the employee, termination clause and the work-related death clause.
NOT EVEN ONE of those are in the Labor Market Opinion intended for the live-in caregiver program!
So, how does violation of any one of the additions protect the rights of the caregiver? I don’t think there’s any.
Let’s give an example. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a “bad” employer signed the “new” contract so the caregiver can come to Canada. The employer have no intention of keeping the live-in caregiver and instead will terminate the caregiver as soon as she arrive in the employers house. And the employer did so without having second thoughts and fired the caregiver immediately.
Would the Philippine Overseas Labor Office do something to fight for the rights of this caregiver by “waving” the contract to the proper authorities?
They couldn’t. Why?
Because there is no Canadian law that was broken even if the employer signed that contract. Even the LMO of the live-in caregiver program was not violated.
The labor attache himself said this in one of his press release, “the contract, while approved for LMO purposes, is still a PRIVATE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE EMPLOYER and the WORKER. That being the case, such contract is still subject to the laws and policies of the Philippines, which can prescribe additional conditions to protect the interests of its nationals going abroad.” (The Philippine Reporter, issue April 16-30,2008 – page 13).
Those alone are proof that this new contract will not provide any protection at all that even law enforcers in Canada cannot cite any ordinance that have been violated. Prove me wrong. Give me any proof that a Canadian law was broken just because the employer changed his or her mind in hiring the caregiver or that the employer does not want to pay for the airfare of the caregiver or does not want to pay for the caregivers repatriation in case of death.
(By the way, the airfare and repatriation of body thing is a big issue, moneywise. No “regular” Canadian employer would agree to that – but that’s another blog post.)
Any one of those directives are argumentative.
We’re not questioning the sincerety of the labor attache for coming out with a directive like this. Maybe his intentions are good. But what he should have done is come up with a draft of his proposition and arrange several meetings with all those who’s going to be somehow affected by it. Employment agencies, caregiver groups or immigration consultants and lawyers. Ask for their input because only those involved in the caregiver employment business knows who the crooks were and “witch hunting” or unfair accusations will not help your cause of weeding out the “bad eggs” – if that’s the intention.
More study should have been done before directives like those are sent out to “take effect immediately” – where the most affected people are those who you’re trying to protect. How so?
All the live-in caregivers who are just waiting to leave for Canada when this contract came out would have to wait if their employers would be willing to sign their names knowing that those add-ons can possibly put them in debt, specially the repatriation of the body clause.
Some of this caregivers have been waiting more than a year for their “first step to a better future” but this new contract will “screw it up” if the employer does not sign it. What do we do about them now?
The Philippine Consulate and the Labor Attache better come to terms with the reality that this new additional contract will not do good to protect a caregiver’s welfare. Scrap it. Canada already has enough laws to protect every individual in this country. What should be additionally done is to disseminate every important information to newly arrived Filipinos, whether immigrants or workers, about their rights and numbers to contact in case of emergency. Information, education and extended help is what they need.