“Open a consular office in Alberta, Canada now” – Migrante Int’l

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today expressed support for calls of the Filipino community in Alberta, Canada for the Philippine government to set up a consular office in the province.

Migrante International also called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Aquino government to “seriously review” the closing down of 10 PH posts in 2012 as part of the government’s “austerity measures”, especially in light of the pork barrel scam and accusations of massive corruption of public funds.

“Not only is it highly impractical but outright insensitive to the plight of our OFWs when government officials, no less than those in the Executive, are figuring in allegations of misuse and abuse of public funds. We have a shortage of Philippine posts abroad as it is. It is unfortunate that the Aquino administration assailed embassies and consulates, the very support system of our OFWs abroad, for its so-called austerity measures and at the expense of welfare services for OFWs,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Presently, the Filipino community in Alberta, Canada has launched a campaign calling for the establishment of a PH Consulate in the region. Martinez said that the demand for the opening of a PH post there is reasonable and imperative as Alberta is home to over 100,000 Filipinos, including permanent residents and temporary foreign workers (TFWs).

Yearly, the PH Consulate based in Vancouver serves approximately 200,000 to 250,000 Filipinos in Western Canada alone, including Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon and Northwest Territories, according to data from Migrante-Canada.

Overall, Filipinos ranked 4th in Canada’s most visible minorities and also the 4th most visible in Alberta.  The 2011 Alberta Immigration Progress Report records the Philippines as the top source of im/migrants in Alberta from 2007-2010. In 2010 alone, the number of im/migrants from the Philippines who entered the province increased by 40% from the previous year.

The Philippines also belonged to the top two source countries of guest workers hired by Alberta employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 2006 to 2010, outranking the US from 2007 to 2009.

“But because there is only one PH consular office in Vancouver and the sheer number of Filipinos who are in need to assistance, basic consular and welfare services remain inaccessible and at a higher cost for Filipinos outside of Vancouver.”

The Philippine Consulate is represented by its two honorary consuls in Edmonton and Calgary, but these officials do not offer passport renewals and other relevant services on a regular day-to-day basis.

In 2012, OFW remittances from Filipinos in Canada comprised 4.3% of the total USD$21 billion, or USD$903 million. Canada belongs to the top six source countries of OFW remittances. ###

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