October chills as our plane touched down Vancouver International Airport six hours earlier on the same day I left NAIA 2. NAIA had been reported one of the world’s worst airports two years in a row.
There were Kababayans on the same plane, some returning, some first time immigrants, visitors and students.
Until the early ‘30s, there were only a few Filipinos in Canada, the neighbor north of the US, whose immigrant population was already close to 47,000 because until 1946 Filipinos were considered US Nationals and did not need visas to come to the US.
The demands of the US agriculture and produce industries concentrated in the West Coast and Hawaii, plus the earliest exchange students (pensionados being readied to take over the Philippine government after the Commonwealth period) and some Filipinas who arrived thanks to the War Brides Act.
Official and community organizations data show that “between 2001 and 2006 the Filipino community in Canada grew from 308,575 to 410,695 or a growth of about 33 percent, compared to the rest of Canada which only grew by about 5 percent. On average, Canada received about 20,500 Filipino immigrants every year between 2001 to 2006.”
The official figure is now 660,00, with three provinces as the most popular destinations. In the last four years, however, the pace of migration to British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario slowed down. The territories—Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon—took up the slack although still in fewer numbers.
Quebec showed a sizable increase of Filipino permanent residents: 49,451 in 2009 to 55,062 in 2013. The territories doubled the size of Pinoys from 287 to 459 in the same years.
Visitor arrivals increased slightly for the years 2009 and 2013: 62,674 and 67,401 respectively.
Foreign workers—including Live-in Caregivers, dipped from 13,771 in 2009 to 8,292 in 2012.
The other temporary and permanent categories (2009 and 2012) provide a different picture. (See table below.)
Statistics Canada confirms the two favorite destinations of Filipinos in Canada as Ontario and British Columbia, the first being the New York of Canada and the latter being Canada’s California.
“In 2001, almost 72 percent of people who reported Filipino origin lived in one of these two provinces. Ontario was home to 50 percent while another 21 percent lived in British Columbia. At the same time, 11 percent made Alberta their home, while 10 percent lived in Manitoba and 6 percent lived in Quebec.
Overall, in 2001, a total of 165,000 people of Filipino origin lived in Ontario, while just over 69,000 lived in British Columbia. Smaller communities lived in other provinces. For example, just over 36,000 people of Filipino origin lived in Alberta, while there were almost 32,000 in Manitoba and almost 20,000 in Quebec.”
October chills hang in the Vancouver air, but no exhaust or pollution assault your nostrils.
Short term visitors have two options of remaining connected by text or calls to their loved ones in the Philippines: get a one-month plan from the major telecomm networks or use their roaming charges. Smart charges are lower than Globe by 10 pesos by international text. On the other hand, a one-month plan (the minimum you can choose) would set you back anywhere from $40 to $67 Canadian.
Closest to Vancouver is the Richmond Centre where neighborhood Filipino stores offer not just unlimited calls throughout Canada but also overseas calls to the Philippines. Cucina Manila just across the street where Staples is located is an established Pinoy Canadian establishment. If you crave for Filipino food and you are in the area, you would not miss adobo, kaldereta, sinigang or pinakbet.
Since I want to be nearer to the airport instead of traveling from downtown Vancouver either by train or cab, my favorite hotel is Travelodge Vancouver Airport where a FilCanadian is a Sales Manager – Ricky Urera. This time, jet lag kept me awake and by midnight, I was looking for a place to eat. Looking out my window, I saw a Tim Horton’s open. I walked for 3-5 minutes and was greeted by an all Filipino midnight crew.
Canada competes aggressively for international students. Its Global Market Action plan includes an International Education strategy seeking to “double the number of international students choosing Canada by the year 2022 without displacing Canadian students.”
In addition, Canada intends to attract “more than 450,000 international researchers and students to Canada by 2022. Such a target is expected to:
• create at least 86,500 net new jobs for Canadians, bringing the total of jobs sustained by international education in Canada to 173,100 new jobs;
• see international student expenditures in Canada rise to over $16.1 billion, generating economic growth and prosperity in every region of Canada; and
• provide an approximate $10 billion annual boost to the Canadian economy.
More good news for Filipino students looking to further their education in this North American destination:
Since June 2014, students have been allowed to work 20 hours a week from day one. Before this new regulation, students generally must first complete six-weeks of academic studies before being eligible to work. Now, work permit is incorporated into the study permit.
The decrease in foreign workers is due to two main reasons: restrictions on the hiring of temporary foreign workers (especially those in the hospitality and tourism industry) including tightening of the Labor Market Opinion program – the required procedure that Canadian employers must take before being allowed to recruit foreign workers. The second factor is the availability of foreign students who are already in Canada and have had initial immersion into Canada’s economic and culture. Employers prefer posting job vacancies in school jobs board instead of paying for all the costs of recruiting and placement of foreign workers.
Canada can – and has a soft spot for Filipinos. Can you make it in Canada as close to a million kababayans have? The historical answer is “Yes” and the fact that the Philippines remain on the top three source countries for immigrants attest to this.