Tell us about your son.
Harold is 18 years old. He has a developmental delay but he can feed, bathe, and clothe himself. He is a healthy child. I speak to him every day on the phone. He really loves swimming, riding his bicycle, and exploring.
When did you come to Canada?
I moved to Canada in 2008 as a live-in caregiver. I’ve cared for several elderly people with complex medical needs. Currently I am employed by Enzo Martini. Mr. Martini is 93 years old.
Why did you come to Canada?
We have a small rice farm in the north of the Philippines in a village called Liywayway. But the income is very small even in good years. When there is a typhoon we lose our harvest and most of our income. It was for this reason I left my 2 sons when they were two and six years old and my husband to work as a live-in caregiver in other countries so that I could support my family. This decision broke my heart. I took my first job overseas in Hong Kong as a caregiver in 1999. I came to Canada in 2008 and became my family’s primary breadwinner, sending money home to support my family.
Have you applied to stay in Canada?
My dream is to stay in Canada and to sponsor my family to come and live with me here. Under the live-in caregiver program rules I was eligible to apply to stay in Canada in 2010, after working the required 24 months.
Will you be allowed to stay?
In 2015, five years after applying for permanent residence, I was told by Immigration that because my son Harold has an intellectual delay I could be refused the right to stay. Immigration labelled Harold “mentally retarded”. I was told that I and my whole family could be refused because Harold would create “excessive demand” on social and other services.
If Harold comes to Canada how will you care for him?
My husband has been Harold’s primary caregiver since I left the Philippines to work overseas. He will continue to care for Harold in Canada. I also have a wide network of friends who have offered to help. My son Bill, 22, is devoted to his brother and has cared for him over the years.
Why do you want to stay in Canada?
Since coming to Canada in 2008 it has been my dream to stay here and to bring my family to live here with me. I love Canada. I have upgraded my skills and now have a Personal Support Worker certificate. There is enormous demand here for my skills. I have worked very hard in Canada and will continue to do so. Like many immigrants before me I want my children to have a better life.
Does Harold want to come to Canada?
When I go to the Philippines I spend every possible minute with my sons. I’ve missed them so much. The last time I was there Harold did not want me to leave. He cried and told me that he wanted to come with me. I want him here too. Harold is our strength. Through him we learned to accept challenges and to celebrate the small things in life.