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Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One There will be a rush to the Yukon

There will be a rush to the Yukon

 

MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

FROM people coming from the tropics, The Yukon, one of the three Canadian territories with winters more brutal than Alaska, is, in theory, a daunting, foreboding territory. The climate is extreme, sub-arctic most of the year, broken only by brief but extremely warm summers. With a land area of 474,712 square kilometers, it is the most sparsely populated place among the three Canadian territories at close to 40,000 people. Picture a country teeming with rural and urban slums, then make a comparison: the Philippines is about 300,000 sq km and it has close to 110 million people.

Much of the Yukon is along the Yukon River, which is fed by large, glacier-fed alpine lakes that feed into the main river. Its main settlements are along the watershed areas. Its original inhabitants were the First Nations people. Trapping and hunting were the prime economic activities of yore. Now, it is mining.

How many days of the year that the sun is not out in The Yukon? Alaska, which is west of the Yukon has longer and better summers.

But what in theory is a daunting, sub-arctic territory that should scare the people from the tropical regions, is currently welcome news in the Philippines. The Yukon, as the screaming headlines said, is in urgent need of 2,000 Filipino skilled workers. Silvestro Bello 3rd, the Labor secretary who failed to scrap endo and energize the trade unions, therefore a miserable failure by most standards, announced the Yukon job openings with fanfare, his way of finding scraps of positive things to announce, probably to obscure his many failings on the domestic labor front.


In a depressing environment of heinous crime convicts getting out of prison based on a “freedom for sale” racket at the New Bilibid Prison, and a government effort to round up close to 2,000 of these loose cannons, indeed the Yukon job openings, and an opportunity for those hired to permanently resettle their entire families into The Yukon is the kind of gift that keeps on giving in the Philippines, a country where the young would always vote on their future with their feet and luggage.

And as sure as the sun will rise after dawn, and as sure as the “upright” Nicanor Faeldon will soon be recycled into a new government post, which he will bungle big-time for the nth time, there will be a rush to the Yukon.

Who can resist jobs in Canada and the possibility of a permanent residency?

An acquaintance has described the general reaction of Filipinos to job openings in North America. It is like a bond offering by a blue-chip corporation at 7 plus percent, and with a tenor of three to five years, he said. Always oversubscribed.

How many applications will be filed for the opportunity to land one of those 2,000 open positions in the Yukon? Probably enough to jam the online sites of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. To be a caregiver in a sparsely populated place near the Arctic, this is the sad truth, is the equivalent of a dream job for many young Filipinos. The supposed “Golden Age” on the home front is more propaganda that a reality and it cannot tether the restless young to the unstable mother country.

The migration pattern to Canada, the route taken by Filipinos already there, of course started with migration to the largest cities, the major urban areas. What is now known as the Greater Toronto Area is host to the majority of the Filipinos who have emigrated to Canada. Alberta and British Columbia are the other major resettlement areas.

Then, the movement into the colder areas, rapidly urbanizing Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with its endless stretches of canola farms.

The current openings at The Yukon is in sync with the movement of adventurous Filipinos into the areas near the Arctic: the Yukon, Northern Territories and Nunavut.

The giddiness, anticipation and enthusiasm by which most Filipinos see these job openings in strange, cold lands are their unverbalized, unarticulated verdict on the Motherland. Better these places near the Arctic than the uncertainty of things at home.

There is a great driver to immigration, and this is the feeling that it is better over there than in the home country.

The racism and bigotry over at Canada’s neighbor, where the preferred immigrants are those that come from Norway, is the other reason Canada is now the North American country that immigrants prefer.

With immigration based on family reunification almost closed and H1-B visas dramatically reduced, the US is clamping down on the entry of non-whites and in this depraved context, Canada has stepped up on its acceptance of immigrants based on their skills, not on the color of their skin. This has helped boost the technology sectors of Toronto and Vancouver and the manpower needed by the cold areas that stretch from Saskatchewan to the three Territories.

Immigration, while not a positive verdict on the home countries, has been universally proven to be a boost to the host countries.

There are metrics — and anecdotes if you will — that eminently prove that.

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Today’s Front Page January 25, 2020

Today’s Front Page January 25, 2020