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Migrante-Ontario and No One is Illegal-Toronto Statement

Juana Tejada arrived in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) in 2003. After twenty-four months of serving Canadian society through domestic work, she is now eligible to apply for permanent residency. But since she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has continued to deny Juana her right to stay in Canada. A CIC case officer decided that her "health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand to health and social services," and thus, an economic burden to the Canadian health care system. This inhumane decision ignores the fact that without the treatment she can receive here, Juana is not likely to survive.

This is a case of the continual and ongoing discrimination against Filipinas in the LCP working under precarious conditions. "The most offensive thing about the Juana Tejada case is that her mistreatment does not come from an employer but from the very government that set up the program which now, in her time of need, rejects her. This is bureaucracy at its most cruel," said Marco Luciano of Migrante-Ontario.

After a press conference on Tejada's behalf last week, Immigration Minister Diane Finley vowed to grant Tejada medical admissibility until her visa expires in December. While this reprieve is important, it is not enough.

We are demanding permanent status for Juana Tejada. In line with this we are demanding that she have access to medical treatment for her condition, and for her and her family to live a life of dignity in Canada.

Juana Tejada's case is symptomatic of the difficult plight of Filipina caregivers that are forced to work under exploitative conditions. For three years Juana has worked from 6:30 am to bedtime, caring for children and fulfilling other household duties. Her sickness now deems her expendable as she is no longer able to fulfill these duties.

We are appealing for her case on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Migrante-Ontario and No One is Illegal demand that the Canadian government allow Juana Tejada to stay, and to sponsor and bring her family to Canada. Further, all caregivers should be given full immigration status, not just employer-dependant work visas that force women into vulnerable and exploitable working conditions.

Tejada's case and other similar ones clearly demonstrate how the Canadian government treats migrant and foreign temporary workers. While enticing cheap labour from crisis-ridden countries like the Philippines to sustain its own economic progress, it is quick to dispose of those that it considers "damaged goods" after the system has bled them dry.

We must not forget the global nature of this issue. The Canadian government and Canadian corporations actively participate in the creation and reinforcement of a system of global displacement of migrants, refugees, and now, temporary foreign workers under the Live-in Caregiver Program. In the Philippines, Canadian mining companies pillage ancestral lands and displace millions of Filipinos left to seek precarious and vulnerable work abroad.

Moreover Juana's case has arisen in the context of the recent passing of Bill C-50. The impact on immigrants is clear ? do not even attempt to come to Canada as a permanent resident unless you are willing to come temporarily as workers in exploitative and marginal jobs. This is a policy that seeks to make it impossible for immigrants to determine not just the conditions of their work, but also of their own lives in Canada. Unless you can skillfully or ably contribute to the economy through precarious and vulnerable work, you are not welcome here.

As the right to life includes the right to medical care, we insist that the Canadian government continue to provide Juana Tejada, as it would its own citizens, the proper medical service and health care especially in her time of great need.

Justice for Juana Tejada!
No to deportations!
Full status now!