The Philippine Overseas Labour Office in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate held a Post-Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS) at the Metrotown Community Hall in Burnaby last April 24. PAOS is a program of the Department of Labour and Employment under the amended Migrant Workers Act of the Philippines. Around sixty newly arrived caregivers and temporary foreign workers attended the seminar, and several speakers were invited to give them information regarding settlement and immigration processes.
Labour Attache Jaime Gimenez opened the seminar welcoming the attendees and giving them a brief description of the work of the POLO and how they are connected with Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and Overseas Welfare Workers Administration, as well as Philippine government benefits. He was followed by Consul Rogelio Villanueva who spoke about how the Consulate and the Labour Office can provide them with consular services such as certification, notarial services, NBI and police clearances, and other important documentation that they may need.
Several speakers were invited to shed light on important information about Canada to the newcomers. Maria Javier of Solutions On-Call, known as the “godmother of caregivers” shed light on Canadian values and the rights and responsibilities of Canadians. She also discussed salaries and wages according to Canadian law, workplace safety as well as vacations and leaves.
Rene Bahena of Bahena Immigration Services talked about immigration updates, particularly on the caregiver programs and the conversion of their status from working to permanent resident (PR). He discussed the qualifications necessary for this transition and the necessary steps in applying for the PR status. Bahena also shared the procedure for the new Express Entry, which is a new system that chooses eligible candidates for quicker expediting of their status to PR. He said that as of the last draw in April 2015, 1,018 PRs were issued through the Express Entry process.
Career alternatives was discussed by Liza dela Rosa of ISS of BC. She explained career exploration, and continuance, and career shifts and how these can keep one living and eventually, settling in Canada. She also gave advice on upgrading skills, expanding networks, attending career planning seminars, setting goals and creating an action plan for permanent employment and residence in Canada.
Cynthia Tamondong of Options BC discussed the importance of financial literacy and why it is important to plan ahead and have a personal savings. She explained the importance of disposable incomes and mandatory deductions from the government so that one can build his/her savings outside of these necessary expenses while living in Canada.
The attendees consulted with the speakers after their talks and were able ask questions from them. Agnes Tecson was the facilitator for the event.
The POLO team, together with some volunteers from Vancouver, organized the event.
The volunteers who help organize the PAOS as part of their advocacy to educate, inform and empower caregivers and TFWs, have been helping the POLO for a few years. Agnes Tecson used to work for DOLE prior to migrating to Canada, and she continues to develop the workforce through information and training. She is a certified human resources professional and mentor. Liza dela Rosa and Cynthia Tamondong used to work in human resources in the Philippines, and are currently working as career development practitioners, facilitators and settlement workers at ISS of BC and Options BC respectively. Maria Javier is an advocate of temporary foreign workers and caregivers rights, and she provides counselling assistance to workers in need.
By Rosette Corea