I had the pleasure of meeting Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and here were her answers to questions I had for her regarding the Filipino community.
1. As you have gotten to know the different leaders of the Filipino community here in Alberta, what are some consistent issues that have been brought up which you want to address? And how?
The community’s very diverse […] but I think the one thing that I’ve heard repeatedly from folks is that they want to continue to be a welcoming destination for Filipinos to keep coming to Alberta. And right now, we’re the number two destination in Canada with the second largest population and a lot of people talk about family members that are trying to come [but] some of the pathways […] have been closed off to them by Jason Kenney and by the Federal government. They’re hoping that we’ll be able to work to lobby to change some of those again. The live-in caregiver program, for example, used to have a pathway for permanency and I think the whole thing has been uprooted. There are a lot of people who came in that program and you don’t make those decisions lightly to come and be a caregiver for a senior or for a young family. Often, people who are coming to be part of the program are leaving their own families, but the reason why they do is—most of the ones I’ve heard from—is because they want to create an opportunity for their whole family to come here and for themselves to become permanent residents and citizens of Canada. I think a lot of folks have talked about how grateful they are to be here, but they don’t want this to be the end, that this is part of the experience in making sure that the Filipino community can continue to grow and flourish here in Alberta.
2. Many Filipinos that immigrate to Canada often struggle to be recognized for their international credentials. How would you approach this issue?
I had a chance to follow up with the ambassador of this […] and she said there’s a lot of work happening in that kindergarten to grade twelve curriculum to ensure alignment with western curriculum and that if there were specific courses or programs that the universities and colleges could help create [to make] a smoother transition with recognition of credentials, that the public universities would be open to some of that. I raised that with [the] Premier’s office that there’s an opportunity I think for some of us—for us to do some work on that. There are also colleges for each of the professions here that sort of regulate the professions, but I think that we can keep pushing on this because we definitely see amazing expertise coming from the Philippines and a lot of really quality—my closest area of course is health care workers, in particular,–and […] I was really excited to see the way to incorporate Tagalog speakers, Filipinos, in providing care to the Filipino Canadians here in Edmonton. […] More work to do there as well.
3. What have been the top highlights of the entire journey in proclaiming June as Philippine Heritage Month?
[The] people working in the arts, in film, and learning about hip hop culture in the Philippines, it’s just—it’s so dynamic and I think there’s so many welcoming components about people who are from the Philippines that they’re wanting to share and contribute. Then, of course, the hospitality angle.
Everyone has been very warm and welcoming and it’s been a lot of fun getting to know more about the Philippines, but also about Filipinos in Alberta.
4. If you could leave us all with one message not only for Filipinos, but immigrants overall in Alberta, what would it be?
Thank you for choosing Alberta as your home. Thank you for wanting to contribute to a society that’s welcoming and inclusive and for choosing […] to use your skills to better Alberta. And to think that we are very fortunate that so many newcomers are choosing Alberta. We want to continue to create the strong public education and Catholic education opportunities, the health care opportunities, and the work opportunities that this will be certainly a magnet for this generation and for the next. While some people are calling for deep cuts and to balance the budget at all costs, we want to invest in families. We chose that different path and we know that the newcomers who’ve chosen Alberta are committed to that as well. That’s what they tell me every day; that they want to have good schools, good health care, and good jobs. Those are the pillars that our premier, Rachel Notley, really pushes everyday with her cabinet so, thank you.