I started out to write this article because of an article I saw in the Philippine tar newspaper a few days ago. The Province of Alberta, Canada has a government team here in Manila this week briefing high-ranking Philippine government officials on Canada, Canada’s needs for skilled workers and to work with commercial employment agencies here in the Philippines to promote Canada as a ‘destination of choice’ for prospective Filipino OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers). Three things that caught my attention right away:
- The team was looking for as many as 60,000 workers … small in the overall scope of nearly a million Filipinos going abroad for work in a year, but still a non-trivial group … about 8 or 9 times the size of Wasilla, Alaska, for example 😉
- The workers they were looking for were not just nurses, and not domestic helpers … the list included many skilled and semi-skilled trades like construction laborers, welders and such … no four year degree required for many jobs.
- Unlike many OFW jobs, where labor contractors are involved and the worker often gets screwed badly … pay turns out to be way less than the OFW thought s/he was going to get, these were government folks with specific wage info. Example. Welder. In Canada, $13.5o CDN per hour, In Saudi Arabia? About one fifth that amount.
Then I was particularly interested by the fact that most of the other provinces and territories of Canada are mounting similar campaigns. Overall the country says they are short several hundred thousand skilled workers.
In particular I noted a lot of openings for care givers … for the elderly and the handicapped. There are trade schools right here in my province that prepare Filipinos for this career in as little as a month r so. In the US most of these jobs are being filled by convicts or work release programs or illegal Mexicans or even overstaying Filipinos. The US government allows easy work visas for, say, engineers from China, but for non-degree and vitally essential jobs like taking care of the sick, the door is closed. Americans, in general don’t want these jobs, or they wouldn’t so often be filled by jailbirds and TnT’s.
In Canada, care givers are recognized as essential semi-skilled workers, and the government of Canada seems to care a heck of a lot more about what will happen to the elderly, so they make a legal pathway to provide for both the care to the patient and an honest career for the caregiver.
My lovely wife and I discussed this article as I was planning it out last night and she didn’t seem very ‘taken’ with my thesis. Her though6t was roughly this … the Filipinos who go for the lower jobs don’t really look beyond traditional OFW locations like Saudi and Libya and Qatar, you won’t change their minds.
Well, I’m not trying to change their minds. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, actually. But I am making a shout out to those who might be supporting family members here in the Philippines, or being asked to help friends or family members get OFW work or even my fellow writing colleagues to give a little thought here.
I’m an American. Born and bred. I’m not trying to start a US is better than Canada or a Canada outshines the US battle. But if you look at the requirements for jobs (the US has the highest unemployment rate in years), if you look at the opportunities for immigration. If you look at the government supported health care for all in Canada versus the ‘hope you can pay, especially now that you are laid off’ situation in the US, if I were not already an American, and I was looking for a place with for a new life and an opportunity to put my family on a sound footing, I surely would take a very, very close look at Canada.
It’s worth a thought.
By the way, all comments are welcome but please … I already said I’m an American and to be the US is better, please so try not to just echo the ‘America first’ rhetoric, I would really like to hear from anyone who has gone to Canada for work as a foreigner, anyone who has a family member there, etc., so I can correct any misconceptions I may have.