Temporary workers tell of exploitation

By Ted Alcuitas

Vancouver, B. C. _ The Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights Canada today calls on the government to admit temporary foreign workers as permanent residents and give them open work permits.

In a press conference at the B.C. Teacher’s Federation offices, the group press anew their demand for changes to the program,now under review by the federal government.

“ I was forced to look for another job and was eventually fired,” a Filipino caregiver from Hong Kong who only give her name as ‘Jhing’, told the conference.

‘Jhing’ broke down while narrating her harrowing experience at the hands of her employer who “held my salary.” She said she paid all her expenses to come to Canada only to end up abused.

‘Jhing’ was able to break free from the situation through the help of Migrante B.C., a local Filipino group that belongs to the coalition.

A farm worker, Mexican Otillo Hernandez-Morales, narrated how he was “assaulted” at his work. Speaking through an interpreter, Hernandez-Moralez said he reported the incident to police and the Mexican consulate but nothing was done about it.

“They (his employer) offered to transfer me to Ontario but I refused,” he said.

WorkSafe B.C. is now investigating the allegations.

The temporary foreign worker program has been in the news lately because of the Prime Minister’s hiring of two caregivers allegedly paid by taxpayer’s money.

The two caregivers -Marian Puego and Marilou Trayvilla are no longer temporary workers but are Canadian citizens.

Critics accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of ‘hypocrisy’ for initially attempting to hire a temporary worker. Before becoming leader of the Liberal Party , Trudeau was a vocal critic of the program.

The Liberals have pledged to eliminate the $1,000 fee for families looking to hire caregivers for disabled family members.

But they have not said whether they would increase the number of caregivers from the 5,000 allowed by the Conservatives to 8,000 – the average 5-year arrivals.