Filipino Nurses in Canada: In Search of a Better Life

The Quebec hospital was the first to respond among the hospitals where I applied for work. As soon as I received the job offer, an application for licensure under the professional licensing body in Quebec started. A fee is required just to open a file. A license was approved with a condition attached to this temporary license, which was valid only for a year. The condition attached was for this RN to pass the provincial French language examination, written and oral, within that year. If I was unable to pass this exam, the license would be revoked and I would be unable to work here. Later on an application for permanent status for the whole family was filed. This process was assisted by a recruitment agency. At that time, Canada’s labor market demand was to hire foreign-trained healthcare workers. We were supposed to come to Canada together but we decided that I had to go first to clear the ground for the rest of the family.

Learning the Canadian culture was the most difficult aspect during my integration into the society. My integrating into the health system was not that difficult because I worked in a psychiatric institution in Quebec. I did not have to learn how to use new hospital equipment, though I had to learn the process of evaluation of and interventions into psychiatric illnesses. Also, I was placed in the children’s services and at that time the patient-to-staff ratio was still high compared to the present. The working condition was totally incomparable to the working conditions in the Philippines. All hired healthcare workers automatically became members of unions with bargaining agreements. I was the only registered nurse in the unit besides the head nurse; the rest were nursing assistants.

The Live-in Caregiver Program is one way registered nurses could migrate to Canada after fulfilling two years of work and eventually register themselves as nurses. Please state your position about this. What are the reforms your group is seeking for the LCP?

We in Pinay have been denouncing Citizenship and Immigration Canada for allowing Filipino trained nurses to migrate through the live-in caregiver program. This is systemic gender, racial, and social discrimination. CIC eliminated several professional categories in the point system of the Immigration Regulation and Protection Act for the purpose of using foreign skilled workers as cheap labor. Pinay is demanding that the conservative government implement the recommendations submitted by the CIC House Standing Committee to the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenny. The rest of the Filipino organizations who are members of Migrante International are also pushing for the above demand across Canada.

What is your group’s opinion on the Philippine government’s labor-export policy?

Pinay’s analysis of the Philippine’s export policy is that it is an imperialist intervention into the country’s sovereignty. This export policy has been embedded in the country’s economic structure as a means of oppressing the nation and its people ever since the colonial era. Labor power is one natural resource of a country that can be plundered. The US-Philippine regimes of the past, present and future has secured the protection of the interest of the few at the expense of the majority of the Filipino people. We believe that it is only through a solid unity of Filipino working class who can change the present political, economic, and social policies in the Philippines.

In some provinces in Canada, such as British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta, there are programs set up to entice immigrants with nursing backgrounds to enter into a “bridge” program that will make them eligible to become LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses), who are paid significantly lower than registered nurses. This, according to authorities, will help in alleviating the nursing shortage in Canada. What do you think of this?

Again, this government program is a violation of Canadian Charter of Rights since like the LCP, it amounts to gender, racial, and social discrimination. Where in this program is the clause in the Charter of Rights on equal rights and equal opportunity to all regardless of status? Immigrants are imported to be exploited and be used to divide between Canadian and immigrant workers.

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  1. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every
    day. It will always be useful to read articles
    from other writers and use something from other sites.

  2. gud am sir/madam

    my mother work in quezon institute as a nurse for 30 years. she gave her loyalty to this hospital. the philippine tuberculosis society gave her a service award for working to qi for 30 years. and now she passed away last march 8 and now she was buried in holy cross in novaliches last march 12. i just want to ask if you could help me to contact some of her co-worker to let them know that my mama is already gone. the last time that i went there is that my friend is applying for a nursing position and the head of the said hospital knew my mom. my mother's name was ALICIA A. LUKBAN. she died cause of nosocomial pnuemonia, gi track bleeding and sepsis. kindly help me sir/madam i just want them to come on my mother's 40 days. i will inform you ahead of time to give you the details. kindly email me. thank you very much. MARIA BEATA LUKBAN-PARAS


  3. Hello,

    I try reading your newspaper online as often as possible and I am surprised by the quantity of negatives stories you publish. I am an immigrant to this country married to a Filipina and I do not hear my wife complaining about how she is treated in Canada. Maybe you should try talking to more people and find out why they like living here and how happy they are instead of only publishing stories from the few unhappy ones who write to you.

    Thank you for your attention,


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