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Job market continues to draw new Canadians to St. Paul

Feb 11, 2014 10:45 am | Sam Macdonald

The Filipino community in St. Paul continues to grow, with the availability of work and quality of life in the area attracting people from outside the country to move to Canada to work, and in some cases, become full Canadian citizens.

Westlock-St. Paul Conservative MP Brian Storseth explains many of the Filipino workers in Canada come here through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. The program allows foreign workers to come into the country on a temporary basis.

“It’s becoming exceedingly popular. When it started, it was a one-year program, basically only used by migrant seasonal workers for agriculture,” says Storseth. “Now, there are well over 200,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada. The vast majority of them are in Western Canada, particularly Alberta.”

The program now allows participants to stay and work in Canada for up to four years at a time.

“There are different programs where you can get exceptions,” says Storseth, “But generally, it’s a four-year program.”

Storseth says he believes the program is important because it increases the productivity of communities and fills a need for labour. But, one of his major concerns with the program is that it “is designed as a temporary program for a permanent problem.”

“It’s in our best interests as Canadians to find a more permanent solution to this problem. I would love to see it become somewhat of a gateway to permanent residency,” says Storseth. He adds, “People are here for a four-year period, proving they are good, hard workers, and are staying out of trouble, and I think that should be a gateway to permanent residency.”

Storseth continues, saying he has had the opportunity to meet some of the newest permanent residents in St. Paul.

“These are people from the Philippines who have been here over four years, worked hard, paid taxes, and now want to stay and work two or more jobs, sometimes. Two of the people I met got second jobs upon getting their permanent residency.”

In addition to a temporary foreign workers program, the Government of Canada also has a federal skilled worker category through which people can immigrate to the country on a permanent basis if they are skilled workers.

Many of the Filipino people living in St. Paul are federal skilled workers who have immigrated to Canada on a permanent basis. Kenn Tainagan has recently become a permanent Canadian resident and is enthusiastic about living and working in St. Paul.

“I think the town is a good place to be. There are a lot of jobs, and within a week of when we arrived, I got a job and a place already,” says Tainagan, who has found employment with St. Paul Abilities Network (SPAN). “I’m only 20 years old, and I already have a job here, so I can save money for my future.”

Tainagan arrived in St. Paul on Oct. 10 and started work on Oct. 17.

“This town is safe for us, and for new residents of Canada. With people here in St. Paul, you feel secure, and that you are safe here.”

Another thing Tainagan likes about St. Paul is the accessibility.

“You are just in a town here, rather than a big city, and if you want to buy something you can just walk to the store, it’s just in walking distance.”

Tainagan explains that he doesn’t own a car, so it’s an advantage to be able to access amenities he needs on foot.

“People here in St. Paul…wow, they’ve got such good personalities. They approached us and treated us like equals to them, they’re very inviting,” says Tainagan, adding, “The work is good, the people are good, and it’s all around a good place. It’s safer here, than in the city where it’s crowded and there are lots of other issues. I plan to stay in St. Paul for a long time.”

Ira Grace Sanidad, a healthcare aide at Extendicare, is also pleased to have come to St. Paul with her husband, and describes the town as, “a great place to live. I mean, if you want to live a simple life, with all the basics close by, St. Paul is it.”

Sanidad and her husband both worked in Dubai as nurses and have been in Canada since June.

“We came from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and the life there is totally different from here,” says Sanidad. She explains that Canada, and particularly St. Paul, feel safer and friendlier than Dubai.

“People here are also very accommodating. We’ve met a lot of people who are nice here . . . St. Paul is a hospitable town, and we feel really welcome here.”

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