Community gives caregivers Overwhelming Support

Community News & Features May 15, 2009 at 11:47 am

Survey reveals the two caregivers who testified before a Parliamentary committee in Ottawa about how they were treated by MP Ruby Dhalla enjoy overwhelming support from the Filipino community in Toronto.

In a poll conducted through email by The Philippine Reporter, among more than a hundred individuals asked to answer questions, 22 replied in a period of less than 20 hours from Wednesday (May 13) night to Thursday (May 14).

Twenty-one out of the 22 said they believe in the testimonies of Magdalene Gordo and Richelyn Tongson, the two caregivers who have been in the national news in the past week for exposing in Toronto Star alleged stories of abuse and exploitation while working in the household of Member of Parliament Ruby Dhalla. 22 said they support the caregivers.

1. Do you believe Ruby Dhalla’s testimony (complete denial and conspiracy to destroy her) or the caregivers’ statements (stories of exploitation and abuse)? Why?
2. What should the caregivers and the Filipino community do? a. Wait and see, b. Support Ruby Dhalla, c. Support the two caregivers and all caregivers, or d. Mobilize mass actions like rallies until caregivers get what they want? Why?




Joe Rivera:

To take sides in this charade means we approve of this political circus and relegate the demands for caregiver reforms to the back burner. We cannot lose our focus.
We should mobilize the Filipino community to support our caregivers through mass actions and awareness campaigns, which could best bring about these changes.

Fay Hangdaan:
It takes a lot of guts to come out and speak up specially with their status.. What they did gives the authorities some awareness of the problems under the Canadian live-in caregiver program. It’s been pushed under the rug too long. To Ruby Dhalla, maybe this isn’t the first time, thus the smell comes out.

Support and educate the caregivers. I’m sure there is abuse where caregivers are concerned, they are taken advantage in one way or another and out of fear the caregivers give in to the demands. We hear caregivers, who are complaining of working long hours for free but scared to complain…I think it’s about time they need to be heard to by the people who created the program..

Mila Astorga-Garcia
Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ)
I believe in the caregivers’ testimony. The conspiracy theory and the denials are lame attempts to deflect attention from the reality of the caregivers’ plight. The Dhalla case is just the tip of the iceberg.
What to do: C & D: support the caregivers efforts to fight for truth and justice, and support the campaign for landed status upon arrival, through advocacy, mobilization and community action. This is the only way to achieve justice for all caregivers who continue to suffer under a flawed system that makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Willie Reodica
Salesperson, REMax
I believe that Ms. Ruby Dhallas statement nowadays is a mere “damage control”, simply because they were caught unaware that the Filipina Caregivers don’t have any guts to expose their bad experiences with their employers.

I believe, Ms. Ruby Dhalla is denying the fact that she interviewed the caregivers for her mother, and now she is using her own brother, and mother whom she reported as the one who have had direct dealings with the Caregivers.

Answer to Question#2:
I believe that it’s about time for over 250,000 Filipino Canadians in the GTA to show our cohesive force, by writing or visiting our local Member of Parliament, and make it known to each one of them, our indignation and outrage about the wrongful acts of Canadian employers involved in maltreatments of thousands of Filipino women as Caregivers.

Alejo Parucha:
1. The testimony of Dhalla is a complete denial and it is not a conspiracy as she accuses. She is arrogant, belittles and treats the Filipino caregivers down-trodden so
she treated them “poor” and “illiterate” because they are caregivers, hence, to her (Ruby Dhalla) they (Filipino caregivers) are servants because she is rich and lives in a big house or mansion. These Filipino caregivers are telling the truth.

2. The Filipino communities throughout Canada should give their 100% support NOW to these two caregivers and all other caregivers and don’t wait and see. The Filipinos should campaign against her in the next election. I think the Filipino Communities throughout Canada should CHANGE THEIR LIBERAL PARTY SUPPORT. The Federal Liberal Party Leader and MP Bob Rae are supporting their colleague Dhalla. In the next election, I am not supporting the Federal Liberal Party; likewise, the Ontario Liberals, if Premier Dalton McGuinty and other MPPs support Dhalla, I will support a candidate sympathetic to the Filipino cause. It is time for CHANGE IN OUR POLITICAL SUPPORT.
Organize a RALLY and I will be there.

Myk Miranda:
I believe the statements of the caregivers because they are consistent, familiar and similar to the vast majority of testimonies of terribly abused caregivers from around the world.

I think that the Filipino community should support the 2 caregivers and all caregivers, educate themselves on the global context to the situation, and mobilize mass actions until the program itself holistically, effectively and equitably protects the rights of all its workers.

Evelyn Pagkalinawan:
1) I see no reason not to believe the caregivers, after all, exploitation of their lot is very prevalent – not only in Canada but across the globe. Exposing Ruby Dhalla’s unfair labour practices as employer was tantamount to suicide for these caregivers, simply because they were going against a “powerful” person. The risk they took is high and they know that their future as well as their families’ are at stake. I firmly believe that the caregivers will be vindicated and that justice will prevail.

2) I, personally, am not for noisy street protests and rallies. I believe that the Filipino community can be effective with its support for these caregivers through constant dialogues with the appropriate government authorities. As with anything, sometimes change does take time to implement, but we can persevere until we get the Live-in Caregiver Program improved.

Jojo Geronimo:

Executive Director
Labour Education Centre of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council
She tends to say she is a nice “caring, compassionate” person. This is not about her good or bad intentions, but rather about whether or not the workers received their rights and whether they were treated fairly. I do not think she is answering the questions, instead she is trying to change the topic; she has not refuted the allegations against her. The workers are sounding more and more credible by every rebuttal from Dhalla.

c and d. What happened here is but one indication of what has been happening all this time to thousands of workers, Filipino or otherwise. As Filipinos we need to stand for our rights and defend the rights of others in our community, like these workers. If we don’t stand for ourselves, we can’t depend on anyone else. These workers deserve our support… they have given so much of themselves.

Maria Guiao:
I support the Caregivers( Magdalena Gordo and Richelyn). Abuse by employers is very common to caregivers cases. There are many caring, kind and compassionate employers too.

We all must value the hard work and caring work of the Caregivers to the society. They take care of our elders, children and family. They are tax payers, and the Canadian Government do have the moral responsibilities to take care of the caregivers.

They do endure the abuse because they believe and hope that someday they will be reunited with their families in Canada.

2.) C and D
United, caring and strong community, let us all support justice for our Caregivers.
Human Dignity for Everyone. Justice will prevail. No one is above the Law.

Erlinda Insigne:

(President, Filipino Canadian Association of Vaughan)
It is not easy to come forward to accuse a government official if it did not happen. The caregivers’ testimony must have happened. For somebody to accuse a politician like MP Ruby Dhalla, it takes nerves and guts, has to be true, and has to have happened. We just don’t go there to make accusations without any basis. Filipinos are not the type of caregivers to tell their experiences if they are not true.
The fact that she quit her position, to me, is an acceptance of guilt. We have to admire these two caregivers.

We need to support the caregivers and all caregivers. We need to have other nannies come forward and expose their similar experiences with their employers. We can only mobilize mass actions if the testimony of the two caregivers was thrown out by the government.

Bert de Lara:
(Philippine Heritage Band)
I believe Ruby Dahlla’s statement is 100% complete denial. She lies on her testimony and of course she will defend herself infront of her Liberal caucus and the rest of all the opposition Party, Shame!!!, shame!!! for exploitation and abuse of power for those two poor caregivers, the contituents of her own riding will decide her faith in my opinion. She is finished!!!
We must organize a rally in support for the two caregivers,one in Ruby Dahlla’s constituency office in Brampton to show the Canadian public the brutality of abuse and inhuman treatment by her family to our kakabayan Caregivers and force her to quit her job. Thank God the truth came up.
At Queens Park to force the MMP’s to give caregivers a more protection from abusive employers.

Efren Reyes:
I definitely believe the statements of Ms. Magdalene Gordo and Ms. Richelyn Tongson. Why would they lie if their status to stay here in Canada depends on how well they perform their caregiving jobs? They need their jobs here to stay and maybe be granted landed immigrant papers so they can stay and get better jobs in the future to help their families back home .

The caregivers and the Filipino community should support 100% the two caregivers and if necessary to even picket in front of the house of Ms. Ruby Dhalla. Let’s all get together and help Magdalene and Richelyn, MABUHAY TAYONG FILIPINOS!

Wilma Nagal:
(Caregiver, Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie)
I will never believe in any of her statement. She’s in a position where she can say whatever she wants to say, she’s in power! She’s used to coming out in public. The two caregivers came here to work, to sacrifice – patient and hardworking as they are. But sometimes we have to do things not because we want to but because we have to. Enough said MS Dhalla!!!!

My answer is C – support all the caregivers, and D – we have to mobilize mass action, a show of force. Concern, solidarity among migrants is the best thing we can show to the whole world and to these politicos; even if we are one of the lowest earners, we know our rights, we learn, and we get organized! We fight!

Merfa Yap-Bataclan:

1. I believe the caregivers’stories.It takes a lot guts to be able to come out in the open while it’s so easy for an actress to be a denial Queen obviously to save her face and her political career

2. C and D.

Mavic Palanca:

Making a living on its own is full time work. Worrying about loved ones back home comes with being away from them and struggling to support their basic needs. Would any self-respecting Nanny really take time to concoct a conspiracy “to destroy” one’s employer or someone who’s supposed to be instrumental in obtaining employment?

More rigid screening of potential employers perhaps needs to be in place. There seems to be some imbalance in the employment of caregivers such that most of the time– the caregiver is at the mercy of the employer. Precisely why they are called caregivers, because they give care in areas where it is lacking.

Maru Maesa:
(Migrante Ontario and Independent Workers’ Association – member)
Whether the people abused were caregivers or not my sympathy is still for the abuse people. I will stand side by side on my fellow caregivers who are always the victims of abuse nd maltreatment. The caregivers’ plight of over abuse, maltreatment, overwork, underpaid, etc., are the result of Canadian government’s no action treatment and for taking for granted the long awaited call and demand of temporary foreign workers “ changes on Live-in Caregiver Program”. And for the lady MP, she should bear in her mind that we,the caregivers only ask what is right for us and what is due for us, we dont need to be abused and suffer physical and mental torture just to get a permanent residence status.

2. It is an all out support for the caregivers. We are also calling the attention of our Philippine Consulate to defend their people under thier responsibility as the Philippine government to assist and protect their nationals since in this case one of the highlights was the confiscation of Philippine passport.

Rodel Ramos:
1. Ruby has to deny the allegations; otherwise even her Party will expel her. These are serious cases. What is the motive of the 3 caregivers in telling their story aside from wanting to help correct a broken system of the Live-in Caregiver Program? That was the only purpose of the consultation.

If there was only 1 witness, it will be a matter of credibility of both. But there are 3 witnesses who have similar collaborative stories. And these nannies are not illiterate. What will they gain to lie against this powerful and rich politician? They can be deported for admitting that they worked without a work permit.
There was no conspiracy to destroy Ruby Dhalla. The Filipinos loved her. She represented the minority and women of Asian descent.

2. This requires a political solution. We are dealing with Canadian politicians in this case which requires changes in Government policies. We need influence, connection among the political parties and Government bureaucracy both in the Federal and Provincial level.

We should fund a lobby group, rally our people towards the changes and urge them to get involved in politics and even run for office so that our political influence will increase just like the Indians, Italians and Muslims.

Mass action like emails, fax and letters to politicians can do. Mass demonstrations like what the Tamils are doing will bring awareness and show of force.

Ricardo Caluen:
(Fil-Canadian Media)
A Conservative -inspired conspiracy to edge out the Liberals? I find this rather preposterous of Ms. Dhalla to claim. I had rather that she answered head on the allegations of abuse than for her to create new scenarios. The caregivers’ statements were too detailed to be a concoction. Do we have another Nixon-Frost interview in the offing?

Terry C. Olayta:

(Coordinator, Caregiver Resource Centre)
Ruby Dhalla destroyed herself through her own actions and behaviour towards this complaint against her. She threw herself down the drain. All the evidences she produced are evidences against her and her family and served her own destruction.

Example: The letter showing that her mother paid cash, the letter admitted the worker received the documents from her brother Neil. Is that not stupid? Whether it’s Ruby, her mother or brother who returned those documents it’s still within the turf of Ruby Dhalla, the government official who should not be ignorant of the law.

We already had waited enough, brainstormed enough. We the caregivers here at the Cross Cultural have always been prepared to show up at Queen’s Park or to Labour and the Federal, to fax barrage, call the offices, continue the awareness education information.

Eloisa Mansibang Liwag:

(Celia Mansibang’s sister)
1. No she’s in complete denial.Of course we caregivers are just telling the truth or we just want to fight for our rights. Because we are only servants or maids doesn’t mean they can let us do everything because they are the boss?They should respect our contract and there’s a limit to our job description.

2.Support the two caregivers and all the caregiver as well. If theres no action, of course go with the rallies until the caregivers get what they deserve so that some of the employers will not do the same abuses as others did. I sympathize with those two caregivers. Near my work, I heard from some of the caregivers that their employers are being fair to them abaout their work time because they had read about the case of Ruby Dhalla.

Bern Jagunos:
- I think this presents a good opportunity for the groups that have been lobbying for changes to the LCP programs to address the features in theprogram that lead to such abuses as shown in the Dhalla case.

- The Parliamentary Committee hearing is welcome, but solely focusing on investigating the allegations against Dhalla is serves only the political agenda of the Conservatives, not to solve the problem. Not that Dhalla is innocent. I think the allegations are true even if there could be some small inconsistencies in the statements of the nannies, so Dhalla’s case should be investigated even if the abuses are minor compared to those suffered by others. Abuses no matter how small should not be tolerated.

- However, the focus of the Parliamentary hearing is wrong. Dhalla’s case should only be the trigger for conducting a hearing into the pattern of abuses against Live In Caregivers and the problems/features of the LCP that cause this. We should press that the role of the Parliamentary Committee is to make this examination and make strong recommendation to the Conservative Government that will fix the LCP problems in order to avoid these abuses

- The Conservative’s motives for eagerly pursuing the hearing on Dhalla’s case are blatantly for political reason; they want to get Dhalla as a way to discredit the Liberals, but I am sure, Jason Kenney and the Conservatives have NO intention of fixing the LCP problems.

- On the other hand, Dhalla and the Liberals must not be allowed as well to get away with this by claiming that this is a Conservative political conspiracy and discredit the nannies’ legitmate case by implying that the nannies are co-conspirators with the Conservatives in this. I think it is very clear that they have not been plotting this with Kenney. But the Conservatives are being very opportunistic in seizing the issue to discredit the Liberals and in the process project themselves as the heroic defenders of the migrant workers’ rights. (By the way, I also object to Dhalla’s emphasis on luxurious living condition that her family supposedly provided the women. It is so condescending, as if the women were unworthy of such living condition that they should tolerate the Dhalla familiy’s abuses in appreciation of such privilege.)

- Some of the things that can be done but must be done while the hearing is still going on:

- Call (write, demonstrate, whatever)on the members of the Parliamentary Committee to press for the broadening of the hearing, not only on the Dhalla case, but getting the testimonies of other nannies who suffered abuses as well as advocates, to press the Committee to review the LCP, address the problems in it that cause the abuses and make recommendations.

- Get supportive MPs who are members of the Committee to support your call so they can speak on this at the hearing

- Send Migrante statements and letters to the Parliament to Toronto Star writers like Dale Brazao and others covering the hearing.

Geopo Dacanay:

I don’t believe her at all. She’s caught with her hands in a cookie jar and try to spin to save her political life.Her testimony was not believable and not consistent with the real issue at hand. With Legal Spins by high calibre lawyers, I hope will not bury the truths presented. There are even proofs presented by the Intercede Advocay Group to substantiate the caregivers statements.

We must support the caregivers as a whole. The  two is the front of the the unsaid and untold problems of the caregivers.These are issues in our community that we do not want to face but it’s high time that everyone, the community, the Philippine  media, businesses that are making a living generally from the caregivers- remittance, insurance, businesses,etc., must come up with one voice/protest to all level of government. This is a community issue that we have to  be united and hopefully apathy and divisions will not be present again in the community.


Speakers at the townhall meeting on community solidarity in support of the caregivers held at the Filipino Centre-Toronto on Friday, May 8, 2009.







INTERVIEW on caregivers issues was conducted by Rick Torres (3rd from right), producer and host of Boses Pinas Spectrum at 1610 AM, CHHA Voces Latinas. Guests are, from left, Hermie Garcia, Rodel Ramos and Mila Astorga-Garcia (2nd from right). At right is Estela Garcia, production technical assistant.

INTERVIEW on caregivers issues was conducted by Rick Torres (3rd from right), producer and host of Boses Pinas Spectrum at 1610 AM, CHHA Voces Latinas. Guests are, from left, Hermie Garcia, Rodel Ramos and Mila Astorga-Garcia (2nd from right). At right is Estela Garcia, production technical assistant.