Filipino Heritage Month event in Bower Ponds celebrates temporary foreign workers

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“We were going to a lot of local events and then COVID-19 knocked us down. This year we managed to organize this very first event, which we like to call Pinoy Fiesta. It’s very common in the Philippines,” she said.

“This event is also a tribute to temporary foreign workers, because being one is a journey and a challenge. That’s why we have other resources here that they can access. When you come to Canada using this program, you don’t get much. I had luggage, $50 and my passport, but now I’m stable and have my family here. It is even there that I met my husband.

Rosales, a worker at the Red Deer Regional Hospital, said that for those inside and outside the Filipino community who need help through the temporary foreign worker program, a help is available through Catholic social services.

Lhen Ramiso has lived in Red Deer for 17 years and also came here as part of the TFW program, starting with Olymel where she is now a team leader.

Ramiso oversees dance group Oly Girls, which performed for the first time at Saturday’s event.

“It’s really huge for the group to do that. It is a pleasure to share our culture and we are very proud to bring smiles back to people who come out of difficult times,” she said.

“When I arrived here in 2005, it was difficult having to leave my family at home, including my nine-year-old daughter, whom I was able to bring in five years later. It was such an overwhelming experience.

Ramiso added that she is grateful that Canada allows this type of opportunity to build a better life.

“Times are tough here. Our hourly wage here is our daily wage there. It’s a bit difficult,” she says. “Here you can stay in a house with one person per bedroom, whereas over there there can often be 16 people in a house with two bedrooms, which is what I experienced. Now I live well and am very grateful to Canada.

Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen has seen the TFW program undergo change and scrutiny since becoming an MP in 2008. The program itself was established in 1973.

Dreeshen says the program is positive, but unfortunately his office hears from a lot of people stuck in the system.

“We are trying to keep people from falling through the cracks, but we are also hearing concerns about people needing workers on the farm to help with planting, for example, but people are getting lost in the system. . People here are trying to make sure people are aware of that and what they can do,” said Dreeshen, who made remarks onstage Saturday.

“It’s important for employers to know they’ll have enough workers, which means it’s not good when it takes too long to bring people in. Especially on the agricultural side, the people who bring in temporary foreign workers know the system and what they have to provide. so they can have a strong workforce.

Sometimes the restrictions aren’t clear to both employer and employee, he noted, adding that clarity would be good on that front.

“The objective of the program is good. Many people, however, think the intent is just for people to use it to become Canadian citizens and bring family members here, but that’s not the case at all. Many come here and send money home, giving their families better opportunities in their own country,” he said.

“I’m glad it’s helped so many families, not just here, but back home for people. We certainly need excellent workers and people engaged in their communities. They are a hard working group, they are people of faith and they contribute in any way they can. It matters to them, and it should matter to everyone.

In 2017, there were about 550,000 TFWs in Canada, or about 2.9% of the entire workforce, according to Statistics Canada. It is estimated that 27.4% of these 550,000 worked in agricultural production.

More than 100,000 TFWs come to Canada every year under the program, which allows employers to hire international workers if there are no Canadians or permanent residents available.

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