Fil-Can MPP bets on credential recognition and PH elections
Fil-Can MPP bets on credential recognition and PH elections
ONTARIO ELECTION 2022
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter
With the race on for the Ontario provincial election right around the corner on June 2, 2022, the recognition of foreign credentials still remains a burning issue for Filipino-Canadians and other immigrants. After decades of red tape, tireless advocacy, and election-time promises, just how much progress has been made and how much more work needs to be done? We spoke with some Fil-Can candidates running in this election and they weighed in on this issue and the recent Philippine Presidential elections controversy.
THE PHILIPPINE REPORTER: Once elected, how would you ensure that credential recognition which has affected Filipino-Canadians for decades will always be in your political agenda, and what are the actual measures you would propose in the legislature that will result in measurable gains for Filipino-Canadians and other ethnic communities? Professional regulatory bodies as gatekeepers have been identified in various studies as a principal barrier to credential recognition. How do you propose to deal with this issue?
VERONICA JAVIER: Members of our community have called on our elected officials at Queen’s Park to advocate on our behalf, but without community representation this has fallen behind as a priority. They have not prioritized working with the professional regulatory associations to break down barriers, while staffing shortages strain the healthcare sector and other parts of our economy. The NDP has stood with our community, fighting to prioritize a system to recognize the skills and credentials of foreign-educated workers, with a focus on workers from the Philippines with training in the healthcare sector. Scarborough Southwest NDP MPP Doly Begum has put forward the Fairness for Ontario’s Internationally Trained Workers Act in the Ontario Legislature to help our communities prosper. An Ontario NDP government will also create a job-matching program to guarantee internationally trained physicians get experience in Ontario and make it easier for internationally trained nurses to have their clinical experiences recognized. This will be a personal priority of mine to push forward as the elected MPP for Scarborough–Guildwood.
PAUL SAGUIL: Quebec has its own sort of skilled migration program and you can qualify specifically for Quebec immigration based on the province’s needs. The Liberal platform has proposed to overhaul the immigration process so that there’s an Ontario specific stream. That means probably working with licensing bodies to coordinate the acceptance of people through the migration stream and making sure that they can be assessed and their credentials can be recognized in a coordinated fashion through that immigration stream.
We also have a Fairness Commissioner in Ontario. This is an office that was set up under the Liberal government and has to have sort of enhanced powers to oversee the other regulatory bodies. The Fairness Commissioner has a mandate to ensure that the licensing bodies accreditation requirements are not creating unnecessary barriers for foreign trained workers. And I would say any government in power has to make sure that that Fairness Commissioner has all the powers and the tools to execute that mandate, including making sure that the regulatory bodies that they’re overseeing are complying with the requirements for fairness.
TPR: The results of the recent Philippine elections have been controversial not only in the Philippines but also internationally, due to observations that there was fraud involved, among other things. In fact, international human rights organizations such as ICHRP-Canada, concerned that human rights violations would increase even more under the supposed front-tunner’s term, have raised this issue in strong political statements calling for an investigation into this matter before election results are declared official. As an elected official here, what are your thoughts on this matter?
JAVIER: I will always be an advocate for democracy, and the allegations and news coming from the Philippines has been troubling to me since election day. I condemn the human rights violations and extrajudicial killings that have already taken place in the Philippines these past years, and call on international observers to continue to condemn these acts if they are to escalate. Bringing this issue to light among our diaspora community is necessary to fight this kind of violence and disinformation. I do not tolerate these acts against democracy and call on international powers that believe in and defend the democratic process to defend it in the Philippines as well. I am committed to continuing to serve the Filipino community as a leader and an advocate for issues that matter to you.
SAGUIL: As a lawyer who’s practiced human rights law, I’m interested in what happens in Canada and other places in the world and I’ve spoken about human rights violations in other contexts. Obviously, during this campaign period, I’ve been focused more on what’s happening here in Ontario. And I’ve only in passing sort of been observing what’s happening in the Philippines. I think what is important for us to understand is that Canada has a voice at the international stage to keep speaking out on these issues and use its relationships in international forums and bilateral relationships with countries like the Philippines to enhance their governance and human rights compliance. I think if I had the privilege of being elected, I think I’ll join whatever available forums are for me to speak about it. But right now, my focus is on Willowdale, winning the Ontario election. So what I’ll say to our kababayan is it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on at home. But it’s much, much more important right now, for us to focus on what’s going on here in Canada, what’s going on in here in Ontario, because this is where we live, these are the communities that we’re a part of, and we need to participate in the political process here.