Canada is going to deport a Toronto-based Filipina live in caregiver because she has cancer.

She completed all the requirements of the live-in caregiver program, but when she underwent the manditory health check that comes with applying for permanent residency they discovered she had cancer. This discovery prompted the order for her to leave Canada.

As one Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officer put it: “While I am sympathetic to your situation, I am not satisfied that these circumstances justify granting an exemption…. In the opinion of a medical officer, this health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health and social services.” In otherwords, her cancer would cost Canadians too much money.

Here’s a short write up I found in the Philippine Reporter:

Juana Tejada, a Filipina caregiver stricken with stage 4 cancer, may pay the ultimate price to keep Canada’s government-sponsored medical system out of the reach of foreign workers, if the recent Toronto Star poll taken June 9 is any indication.

Of 4,459 respondents, 61% said that foreign workers like Tejada should be denied permanent residence if they are sick. Only 30% voted against denying foreign workers permanent status due to sickness. Without permanent residency status, foreign workers like Juana cannot avail of OHIP or similar government health plans.

Tejada served as a nanny in Alberta after her arrival in Canada in 2003. Her application for an open work permit and permanent residency status in 2006 was denied by an Alberta immigration officer after medical tests indicated she had metastatic colon cancer. According to the ruling, her health condition “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health and social services”.

But for her medical condition, Juana would have received permanent residency status, having completed the 3 years required service as a caregiver under the Federal Live-In Caregiver Program. She has been twice denied permanent immigrant status, however, and was recently ordered by immigration officials to leave the country by August 8, a decision that some say is inhumane and tantamount to a death sentence.

Tejada is currently receiving disability pay but she and her visiting husband do not have OHIP coverage. She has been denied OHIP coverage due to her medical condition. Juana pays for her own prescription drugs with the financial support of friends and members of her church. Out of compassion, doctors at Princess Margaret are providing medical services to Juana for free.

Of course I have my opinion about this case (and the LCP program in general), but I’d love to hear back from you guys. What do you know about the Live in Caregiver Program? Have you had a chance to talk to those girls (and some guys) that you see in the parks with White kids? And what do you think about this case in specific?

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There was a press conference about Juana’s case yesterday (Friday 20 June). It was decently attended. Olivia Chow, the United Steelworkers, Kairos, and Migrante-Ontario were speakers (among the panel with Juana, her husband, and their lawyer).

She has received a decent amout of press coverage. The Star had a piece on her last week, and today she was interviewed by Global and CBC.

[***for an update on this story see: Dying Caregiver Gets Some Good News]

Below are some of my images from then…

Her husband, pictured above, arrived in Canada a few months ago (after she found out she had cancer). They were married in 2000, and soon after she left to be a caregiver in Hong Kong. From HK, she came directly to Toronto. He lamented to me that this was the first time they’ve been together since they were married and now she’s being dying and may be deported.

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[Update 28 June 2008] Caregiver Gets Some Good News

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As I wrote above Juana Tejada, a terminally ill Filipina caregiver, is being made to leave Canada because her cancer has been deemed a finacial burden to this country’s health care system.

Because of the dramatic nature of her story public interest has been raised enough to force the government into paying for her OHIP expenses since her OHIP expired last year, approximately $15,000.

Her lawyer Rafael Fabregas wrote in an email, “I have no doubt that this generous and much appreciated gesture by Citizenship and Immigration Canada came only because of the growing support Juana is getting from the community, from Canadians, and from around the world… But I continue to ask for your support and help, as Juana’s request for permanent residence remains pending. Let’s all do everything we can to give Juana her dying wish.

There was a rally yesterday (Friday 27 June) organised by Migrante-Ontario in front of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The rally was attended by the United Steelworkers, No One is Illegal, the NDP (MP Peggy Nash, and NDP candidate Ali Naqvi), Migrante Partner orgs, and others.

Below are images from that event:

Marco from Migrante-ON.

MP Peggy Nash, NDP.

NDP candidate Ali Naqvi.

A speaker from the United Steelworkers Union. The union, along with Migrante-ON have recently created the Independent Workers Association an organisation to provide legal and dental services, accident and critical illness insurance, and more (see link).

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[Update 18 July 2008] Canada Finally Allows Dying Caregiver to Apply for Immigrant Status

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Following up on some earlier posts [see above] of mine “Should Canada Deport Juana Tejada?” and “Dying Caregiver Gets Some Good News,” her lawyer announced this morning that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has given in to public pressure and allowed her and her husband the right to apply for landed immigrant status.

Juana had completed all the requirements to the live-in caregiver program only to discover during her original application for status that she had terminal cancer. This discovery let the government to reject her application due to the financial burden it would place on the healthcare system.

Her lawyer received a letter (yes a letter, not a call of apology) from the CIC yesterday and the public announcement occured during a press conference this morning.

“My husband and I are very grateful to Canada. It was been our wish to have an opportunity to start a better future here. This decision has a big impact on my health, in a positive way. It makes me more powerful in fighting the illness I have,” said Tejada.

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