“Bahala na si Batman” is never good advice, whether you’re crossing the street or leaving the country to work as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). This is especially true when working in a far away country like Canada. Here’s why we think that making sure you’re OWWA membership is active and up-to-date if you’re an OFW in Canada.
If you are in Canada on a Work Permit, make sure that your OWWA membership is up to date.
For just USD25.00, your active OWWA membership will give you and your qualified dependents access to OWWA programs and services.
Remember, if you change employers while working in Canada, or have worked for the same employer for more than two years, you have to renew your OWWA membership to continue enjoying access to OWWA programs and services.
When your employment contract has ended, your OWWA membership is no longer active.
WHAT IS OWWA?
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is an attached agency of the Philippine Government’s Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE).
Founded in 1977, OWWA is responsible for promoting the welfare of its members while they are employed overseas and their qualified dependents in the Philippines.
OWWA representatives are deployed around the world, providing programs and services to its members in 31 overseas posts across 27 countries around the world.
In the Philippines, OWWA maintains Regional Welfare Offices (RWO), which provides programs and services to active OWWA members and their qualified dependents in the Philippines.
WHAT IS OWWA RESPONSIBLE FOR?
OWWA’s primary focus is taking care of OFWs and their qualified dependents, before their departure from the Philippines, while they are working in their country of employment and upon their return back home.
Moving to a new country, even if it’s to work for a short period of time can be challenging.
Before OFWs leave the Philippines, OWWA’s Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars (PDOS) give them important information as well as basic language training to help them adjust to their new environments.
The information they get from attending PDOS allows them to become confident and productive workers during their employment overseas.
While OFWs are overseas, OWWA Welfare Officers collaborate with local settlement organizations to provide Post-Arrival Orientation Seminars (PAOS), to give additional information about local employment standards.
OWWA Welfare Officers Work with other Embassy and Consulate General staff to provide assistance to OFWs in need.
When OFWs return to the Philippines, they can access a host of programs and services including livelihood training, to help them reintegrate back to Philippine society.
WHERE DOES OWWA GETS ITS MONEY?
OWWA is funded by a single trust pooled from contributions made by OFWs, who pay USD25.00.
OWWA is also funded by investment and interest income, among others.
WHO MANAGES OWWA?
OWWA is administered by a Board of Trustees through the Secretariat.
The Secretariat is headed by the OWWA Administrator and Deputy Administrator.
HOW DOES AN OFW BECOME A MEMBER OF OWWA?
In order to become a member of OWWA, an OFW must make a contribution of USD25.00.
With an active OWWA membership, OFWs and their qualified dependents have access to a host of programs and services.
OFWs become members when they apply for their Exit Clearance at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), before they leave the Philippines to work overseas.
OFWs who work overseas who arrived from another country (not the Philippines), as well as OFWs who changed employers while overseas, can voluntarily renew their OWWA membership at certain overseas posts including Philippine Embassies, Consulate Generals and POLOs.
HOW LONG IS OWWA MEMBERSHIP ACTIVE FOR OFW IN CANADA?
OWWA membership is active immediately upon payment of the USD25.00 membership contribution.
OWWA membership is active for two years, after which it must be renewed to continue having access to OWWA programs and services.
It is important to know that OWWA membership is only valid for the duration of a specific employment contract, up to two years.
If an OFW starts working for another foreign employer, a new USD25.00 membership contribution must be made to continue having access to OWWA programs and services.
If an OFW continues working for the same foreign employer for more than two years, a new USD25.00 membership contribution must be made to continue having access to OWWA programs and services.
WHAT ARE OWWA’S BENEFITS FOR OFW IN CANADA?
OWWA members are covered for the duration of their employment contract.
In case of death during their employment overseas, their next of kin will receive PhP100,000.00 for natural death and PhP200,000.00 for accidental death.
Disability and Dismemberment Benefits
OWWA members are entitled to disability and dismemberment benefits up to PhP50,000 for injuries sustained while employed overseas that result in partial disability, and up to PhP100,000.00 for injuries sustained while employed overseas that result in total permanent disability.
In case of death, OWWA members’ Next of Kin are entitled to PhP20,000.00 for funeral expenses.
WHAT OTHER PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE FROM OWWA FOR OFW IN CANADA?
OWWA members and their qualified dependents have access to OWWA programs and services, including scholarship programs.
OWWA scholarship programs are subject to a selection process and are available at accredited educational institutions only.
Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP)
The EDSP is a scholarship that provides financial assistance to qualified dependents of active OWWA members.
The EDSP provides up to PhP60,000.00 per school year for baccalaureate courses at designated colleges and universities.
OFW Dependents Scholarship Program (OWWA DSP)
The OWWA DSP is a scholarship that provides financial assistance to qualified dependents of active OWWA members.
The OWWA DSP provides up to PHP20,000.00 per school year for baccalaureate or associated courses at designated colleges and universities.
In order to qualify for the OWWA DSP, OWWA members must not have a salary of more than USD400.00.
Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP)
The SESP is a scholarship that provides financial assistance to qualified dependents of active OWWA members.
The SESP provides up to PhP14,500.00 per course at TESDA-accredited institutions.
Seafarers’ Upgrading Program (SUP)
The SUP is a program that provides financial assistance to OFWs under the Seafarer category.
The SUP provides up to PhP7,500.00 for every training course.
OWWA members under the Seafarer category can submit a new application for the SUP after every three recorded OWWA memberships.
Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP)
In case of death, active OWWA members’ qualified dependents can receive financial assistance for educational and livelihood purposes.
Qualified dependent children can receive up to PhP5,000.00 for elementary school, up to Php8,000.00 for high school and up to PhP10,000.00 for college.
Qualified dependent spouses can receive up to PhP15,000.00 for livelihood assistance.
OWWA Repatriation Program
Working overseas carries with it inherent risks.
When active OWWA members require repatriation, OWWA Welfare Officers Work with Philippine Embassies and Consulate staff to repatriate OFWs to the Philippines.
OWWA provides assistance at the airport as well as temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway House in Pasay City. OWWA provides active OWWA members transportation to their home provinces upon arrival to the Philippines, if necessary.
OWWA Reintegration Program
OWWA provides economic and psycho-social reintegration programs to active OWWA members upon their return to the Philippines.
OWWA’s Reintegration Program includes social preparation programs for livelihood or community-based income generating projects and skills training, as well as credit facilitation and lending.
OWWA’s Reintegration Program also includes community organizing programs that provide family counselling and capacity building training for active OWWA members who have just recently returned to the Philippines.
Do you have a question about OWWA programs and services?
If you are currently working in Canada, you can check on the status of your OWWA membership by contacting the POLO which has jurisdiction over your province of employment.
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS LABOUR OFFICE (POLO) TORONTO
2/F 160 Eglinton Ave. E.
Toronto ON M4P 3B5
Tel: (416) 975-8252
Fax: (416) 975-8277
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS LABOUR OFFICE (POLO) VANCOUVER
601-999 Canada Place
Vancouver BC V6C 3E1
Tel: (604) 641-1234
Tel: (604) 767-3354
If you are in Metro Manila and have questions about OWWA programs and services, or to locate the nearest OWWA Regional Welfare Office (RWO) to your location, contact OWWA’s 24/7 hotline by dialling 1348 from any landline or cellphone.
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