Profile: Born into poverty in the Philippines, Edeline Agoncillo trained as a teacher but could not find employment in her competitive profession. To support her young children and her parents, she lived apart from her family to work for 12 years as a domestic helper before coming to Canada as a temporary foreign worker in 2014. Except when her husband died, she has been unable to visit her children in the Philippines, having to rely on Internet programs to “see” them. In Edmonton, Agoncillo hauled carts of hospital linens at K-Bro’s industrial laundry for two years. Blood and once a finger, needles, and surgery tools were sometimes present among the linens. The work was dangerous, but the TFWs were too scared of losing their jobs and being deported to complain.
After that job, Edeline studied hospitality management at Solomon College, on the incorrect advice from an immigration counsellor that a credential from the college would earn her a postgraduate work permit. She paid about $20,000 for her program, and, thanks to Migrante and the Edmonton Community Legal Centre, she is involved in a lawsuit regarding the false information she allegedly received. After graduating, she applied to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds. The interview focuses on the many ways in which TFWs are potentially exploited by employers, immigration counsellors, and by private educational institutions.
Keywords: Hong Kong, and foreign workers; Immigration counsellors; K-Bro; Laundry workers; Migrante; Philippines; Postgraduate open work permits; Temporary foreign workers; Temporary foreign workers and separation from families.
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