Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday hailed the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and Saskatchewan enhancing the provisions of the previous labor agreement with the purpose of opening up more job prospects and providing better protection for Filipinos in the Canadian province.

The Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in Human Resource Deployment and Development, which was signed last 07 October 2013 in Fairmont Hotel in Makati City by DOLE Acting Secretary Danilo P. Cruz and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, seeks to implement streamlined, efficient and ethical recruitment practices in human resource between the Philippines and Saskatchewan. Among the shared priorities for cooperation are:  (1) exploring arrangements for skills upgrading, skills gap training and mutual recognition of qualifications of professional and trade workers (2) streamlining of recruitment processes ; (3) examining mechanisms of monitoring Filipino workers recruited in third countries and receive protection under Saskatchewan and Philippine legislation; (4) establishing transparent access of Filipino workers to justice systems;  (5)supporting integration, reintegration and human resource development programs, among others; and (6) sharing of information.

The signing was witnessed by Philippine Consul General in Toronto, Canada Junever Mahilum-West, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Deputy Administrator Amuerfina Reyes, Canadian Ambassador Christopher Thornely, and Bourgault Industries Human Resource Manager Bill Granville.

Under the streamlined recruitment process, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office shall accredit the employer/licensed employment agency in Saskatchewan who will recruit workers in the Philippines, without further verification, on the basis of the registration system of employers to be undertaken by Saskatchewan authorities, under the FWRISA. The employer shall cover the costs relating to recruitment of the Filipino worker. The employer and the registered recruitment agencies in the Philippines were prohibited from charging directly or indirectly, any payment from the applicant.

Baldoz said the PH-Saskatchewan MOU, which was first signed in 2006, is a trailblazer on the orderly recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers to qualified employers in the Province saying that it was the first of a ‘new generation’ of agreements that incorporated human resource development concerns into consideration and paved the way for the signing of three (3) other MOUs in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Baldoz said the updated MOU aligns with recent policy developments in both countries.

In the Philippines, Republic Act 10022 amended the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act and provided for stronger protective mechanisms in the deployment of workers.

The Saskatchewan government meanwhile has recently enacted two (2) important legislations that govern the employment, recruitment and immigration of foreign workers to their province: (1) “The Saskatchewan Employment Act” and (2) “The Foreign Workers Recruitment and Immigration Services Act (FWRISA)”. The Employment Act provides for employment standards, including a prohibition on the charging of fees by employment agencies to job seekers, occupational health and safety measures, labor relations, among others.

The FWRISA covers provisions on the licensing of foreign workers’ recruiters, registration of employers of foreign nationals, prohibited practices, sharing of information, and inspection, investigation and enforcement.

To date, the Philippines is one of the largest sources of immigrants and temporary workers for Canada because of their skills, fluency in English and laudable work ethics.

As of the end of 2012, there were about 19,283 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed to Canada, 32% ( 6,132) of whom were new hires while 68% (13,151) were re-hires.  The 2012 figure is a 23.2% increase over the 2011 deployment level. This may indicate that Canada as a work destination for the global Filipino workers is worth coming back to.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration

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