Possibly no nation has been as deliberate in educating and facilitating the temporary travel of its workforce overseas as has the Philippines. According to this article in the Vancouver Sun, it has 24 overseas labor offices to oversee labor protections of its workers. This article deals with an agreement between British Columbia and the Philippines; three other Canadian provinces already have signed agreements. For B.C, the Philippines is already the third largest source of immigrants.
According to the article, a “joint labour committee with members from both sides….will hammer out specific guidelines for training, certification and assessment of both employees in the Philippines and employers in B.C.”
The article in full:
B.C. signs deal with Philippines to attract more workers; Joint committee will hammer out guidelines for training, certification
By Joanne Lee-Young
The Vancouver Sun (Canada), January 30, 2008
The province of B.C. has signed an agreement with the government of the Philippines to help attract more Filipino workers as a way of coping with labour shortages.
On Tuesday, B.C. Minister of Economic Development Colin Hansen signed a two-year memorandum of understanding with Philippine Labour Secretary Arturo Brion.
This will lead to the establishment of a so-called joint labour committee with members from both sides who will hammer out specific guidelines for training, certification and assessment of both employees in the Philippines and employers in B.C.
As well, Brion said the Philippines will establish a labour office in Vancouver to vet potential employers, streamline applications and provide support and social services for Filipino workers in B.C.
‘We hope to convene this joint labour committee as soon as possible and to have it set up in three months,’ set Brion. ‘We already have a labour attache in Toronto, but this one [in Vancouver] will serve Western Canada.’
Although the B.C. government has said that the province needs to attract 30,000 workers per year with specific skills from outside B.C., Hansen said that there is no exact target number for workers from the Philippines.
The agreement will focus first on helping B.C. companies in the tourism, hospitality and construction industries.
‘We are confident that this agreement will significantly increase the number of Filipino workers in B.C.,’ said Hansen, adding that it will allow ‘us to work closely with recruitment agencies, with the oversight of government, so we can streamline that process and ensure that we have the best experience for the Filipino workers that arrive.’
‘We want this to be a very good and positive work experience for those individuals, whether they come as temporary workers for a few months and years, whether they come with their families or not, and whether or not they choose to establish permanent residency in B.C.,’ said Hansen.
The Philippines ranks third as a source of immigrants to B.C.
In late 2006, the Philippines signed a similar agreement with Saskatchewan. Alberta and Manitoba are also seeking such arrangements. When asked about the success of the existing agreement with Saskatchewan, Brion said that he expects workers from the Philippines will be sent more quickly and in greater numbers to B.C. based on greater ‘interest and will’ from parties in B.C.
Brion said that the Philippines currently sends millions of workers overseas to over 190 countries. Saudi Arabia, for example, has been hiring workers from the Philippines since the 1970s and today is home to some 1.2 million Filipinos.
‘These are our old markets,’ said Brion. ‘B.C. is a very new one. So far, Filipino workers here have been arriving here in an unregulated manner. We want to make sure there is priority for B.C. and regulations that will protect Filipino workers and all stakeholders.’
The Philippines currently runs 34 overseas labour offices such as the one that will be established in Vancouver. For 2008, Brion said that the Philippines is also earmarking similar new labour offices in Australia, New Zealand, Macau and Ireland.