Henry Sy’s fish story


HE came to the country and started work in a Filipino store distributing Filipino products. Consequently, the store owner decided to set up Filipino stores adding cooked foods – lechon, dinuguan, pancit and kalderetang kambing.

Eventually he learned how to cook and identified the ingredients for setting up his own Family Seafood Market.

That was 30 years ago.

Now Henry Sy (not the mall mogul, but just a namesake) is serving the needs of approximately 500,000 in Riverside, South Los Angeles California. You can listen and watch his story through this web link – https://www.facebook.com/AmerikaAtbpTV/videos/vb.110143899069128/864165240333653/?type=2&theater

Employers in North America (Canada and the United States) intending to recruit foreign workers must now provide evidence that hiring foreign workers will not affect the labor market situation in their area of business.

In the US, the process is called Temporary Labor Certification. Canada calls it the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) – formerly the Labor Market Opinion (LMO).

Unlike in the Middle East where contract substitution is rampant, employers in the US and Canada are bound by government laws requiring that the worker being recruited must be paid the same or even higher wages than the local counterpart.

In both cases, employers must post the job openings with their respective Job Banks, akin to the database of the Philippine government online – PhilJobs.Net.

This requirement has been in place in the US for some time. In Canada, the same requirement was implemented until July 2013.

Now, employers are required to use two additional methods of recruitment beyond the national Job Bank especially those hiring for a high-wage occupation. Some employers in Canadian provinces hiring for low-wage occupations on the other hand may offer lower wages, but they still need to demonstrate that they have made efforts to hire Canadians from under-represented groups in the work force, such as the youth or the disabled.

Since 2004, the Philippines has been the top source of temporary workers for Canada. From 13,812 in 2004, the number of Filipinos recruited by Canadian employers almost quadrupled to 51,019 five years later.

Of this number, 31,610 were for Live-In Caregivers, one of the most popular temporary work categories in Canada.

Lorelei B. of Cavite and 16 others are licensed registered nurses who now work as caregivers because they cannot find jobs in the Philippines even though they turned to PhilJobs.Net. In fact, most RNs in the country have to pay hospitals and other facilities to get in just to gain experience and hope they would be hired later. Lorelei and her friend are now reviewing for the NCLEX exam to be able to practice their professions in Canada. She shares her story here — https://www.facebook.com/AmerikaAtbpTV/videos/vb.110143899069128/861194143964096/?type=2&theater

A lot of licensed RNs in the Philippines take up caregiver jobs in Canada (and other countries as well such as Singapore and Hong Kong). The job does not require a nursing degree or licensure but applicants must have at least completed a six-month caregiver program with an accredited TESDA training center and the applicant must have earned at least 72 academic units in post-secondary education. Finally, the applicant must submit evidence of language proficiency.

While Filipinos who have midwifery or practical nursing diplomas may meet these academic requirements, quite a few dread the English proficiency test which RNs usually take in stride given the fact that the nursing course is almost always given with English as the main language of instruction.

Karen C. B. on the other hand came to Canada as an international student in 2013, took up an 18-month healthcare-related program and was able to work while studying. Foreign students in Canada can work up to 20 hours a week while studying, earning approximately $20 per hour. During school breaks, a student can work full time.

Since a one-year academic program lasts eight months, the student can work full time for four months in addition to being able to work full time during weekends when school is not in session. A foreign student in the US cannot work for the first year of the academic program.

Canada published a list of occupations eligible for permanent residency through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). Nurses were included on the list. Karen applied although she worked as a Tele-Health nurse at a call center firm in the Philippines (no direct patient care).

Early this year, Karen’s application for permanent residency was approved. She was instructed to pick up her permanent resident card at the border. Watch and listen to Karen’s immigrant journey —https://www.facebook.com/AmerikaAtbpTV/videos/vb.110143899069128/767177520032426/?type=2&theater

Henry, Lorelei and Karen took different routes to Canada and the United States.

They had to find a country where opportunities exist, where there is a level playing field and you can pursue a career without having a Kabarilan, Kaibigan, Kakilala or Kamag-anak who sits as an elected official in the Philippine government.

And that is not a fish story.


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  1. The Liven Caregiver was effectively abolished in December 2014. It is now extremely difficult to get approval to recruit a foreign worker for child care or elder care. The refusal rate is around 90%. Most people using this program have no idea that it has ended. It was ended mainly to reduce the statistics on the number of foreign worker in preparation for the election.
    There are insufficient number of daycare spaces and elder care facilities to accommodate the fall-out from ending the program. We probably will not begin to feel it’s effect until after the election.

  2. dapat maghigpit na rin Philippine govt sa pag pasok sa foreign workers. dapat ma justify din ng mga employers particularly sa entertainment sector. palakasan.