Olivia with Juana and her husband Noli.

Yesterday Migrante-Ontario, the Independent Worker’s Association (IWA), and associated groups celebrated Juana Tejada’s successful fight to gain permanent residence status. Juana is the live-in caregiver (LCP) that was denied status twice after she was discovered to have terminal cancer and deemed a burden to the Canadian healthcare system.

She thanked Stephen Harper and the Minister’s of Immigration and Multiculturalism for their help [she is amazingly gracious].

The event was both a celebration of the communities successful battle and a launch of the campaign to pass a ‘Juana Tejada Amendment’ to the existing law which states that LCPers (and other temporary workers) have to pass a second health test (the first being before they are allowed to come to this country) before being allowed to apply for permanent residency.

It seems more than unfair that despite fulfilling one’s end of the bargain towards Canada, the country still reserves the right to reject this class of migrant the right to apply for status. Having developed her cancer here in Canada for them to have taken away her rights, including to health care, seems very cruel.

Juana still has cancer, and she isnt the only caregiver that’s gravely ill. Migrante-ON spoke of how there are at least 15 more cases like her.

Her courage in coming forward and fighting is an inspiration. Congratulations to her and Migrante, the IWA, and the community. She reminded us in her speech that we are stronger together together than apart. I hope all progressive people take her words to heart.

MPs Peggy Nash and Olivia Chow who were supporters from the beginning were also present. Ms. Chow made a promise to make this amendment an issue in the predicted fall election.

This is of course only one of the problems to be found within the live-in caregiver program, but let’s hope that this can be the start of dialogue.

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For more of my photos from this and other events around Juana Tejada please CLICK HERE.

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Below is the press release sent out by Migrante-ON:

WHAT: Celebration of Juana Tejada's right to permanent residency in Canada,
launch of campaign to change law
WHERE: Trinity St. Paul United Church, 427 Bloor St. West, Toronto
WHEN: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday August 24, 2008
WHO: Juana Tejada, her friends and supporters, MP Olivia Chow, MP Peggy
Nash, sponsored by the Independent Workers Association - Home Worker

TORONTO, Aug. 21 /CNW/ - Media are invited to join in a victory celebration
for ailing homeworker 

Juana Tejada, who now has permanent resident status in Canada following
a campaign to allow the terminally-ill woman to remain in this country.  Now
that Tejada has won her right to stay in Canada, the coalition known as the
Independent Workers

Association - Home Workers Section is launching a campaign to change the
Immigration Act and get rid of the requirement for a second medical for live-in
caregivers once they have completed all other requirements under the
federal Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP).

The "Juana Tejada Law" would mean that no more otherwise-worthy
candidates for permanent residency would be rejected on the basis of
illnesses contracted during their three years of working in Canada under
the program.

Currently, the LCP screens workers' health prior to being accepted into
the program, but demands another medical once they have successfully
completed all other requirements for permanent resident status. Tejada's
cancer was detected during her second medical and she was twice
rejected for permanent status. The Independent Workers Association -
Home Workers Section, a joint initiative of the United Steelworkers
(USW) union and Migrante Ontario, took up Tejada's cause along with her
lawyer, Rafael Fabregas.  The Home Workers Section was formed to
offer representation to LCP caregivers, as well as those who are
independent home workers and permanent residents. The majority of these
home workers are from the Philippines.  The USW is committed to finding
ways to defend the interests of marginalized workers who do not have
traditional bargaining relationships with employers.

Migrante-Ontario is a chapter of Migrante International, a global alliance of more
than 100 overseas Filipino organizations in 120 countries. Migrante's mission is
to uphold and defend the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families.
Canada's most diverse union, the USW represents more than 280,000 men and
women working in every sector of Canada's economy.