Filipino frontline workers in Canada are among the first to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The first publicly available vaccines were administered to five frontline workers during a televised event, three of whom were Filipino.
Since the 1950s, Filipino health professionals have come to Canada to help address widespread labour shortages across the country.
One of the five frontline workers was Lucky Aguila, who told CTV News that it didn’t occur to him that he was representing the Filipino community.
“I’m honoured to be one of the first,” Aguila told CTV News.
Aguila just started working at Rekai Centre shortly after the start of the pandemic. The work was even more challenging during the pandemic.
“I’ve seen the need for long-term care in nursing,” Aguila told CTV News. “They need more care, mostly because their families aren’t with them most of the time.”
Another Filipino who was among the first to receive the vaccine was Bena Artates, a registered practical nurse.
Artates had tested positive for COVID-19 early during the pandemic. She’s happy to have received the vaccine.
“For me, I was willing to take it for the safety of myself, my family, my residents, my patients and the whole community,” Artates shared with CTV News. “As long as we have this opportunity, you should take it.”
According to CTV News, 1 in 20 healthcare workers in Canada are Filipino.
The now defunct Live-in Caregiver Program saw tens of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) come to Canada to work for Canadian families. The immigration programs that followed it continue to be predominantly Filipino.
Aguila thinks that it’s because Filipinos are predisposed to working in healthcare.
“I believe we get it from our values and our cultures reflect in our nursing care, which we convey compassionately and ethically to our patients and it contributes to a stronger health care system for Canadians,” Aguila told CTV News.
While healthcare workers continued to arrive from the Philippines, Canada no longer recognized their international credentials. Many registered nurses were forced to work for jobs that didn’t require accreditation for much less money.
Many advocates are urging the Government of Canada to consider changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to recognize internationally trained professionals, including healthcare workers such as nurses from the Philippines.
OFWs from the Philippines are only one group of migrant workers who come to Canada under the TFWP. Not all immigration programs provide OFWs with the opportunity to stay in Canada legally, many are forced to leave when their employment contracts are complete.
Many would rather stay in Canada illegally, rather than face an even more uncertain future back home in the Philippines.
In the meantime, Filipino frontline workers in Canada are hunkering down for what is becoming a very difficult second wave of COVID-19.
Aguila, for one is encouraging others to get the shot if they are part of the priority group.
“I believe we get it from our values and our cultures,” Aguila said, adding that the values in the Filipino communities “reflect in our nursing care, which we convey compassionately and ethically to our patients and it contributes to a stronger health care system for Canadians,” he told CTV News.
SOURCE: CTV NEWS
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