Profile: Kathleen Cariaga-Estapa graduated as a nurse in the Philippines, coming to Canada soon afterwards in 2008 as a temporary foreign worker in a residence now owned by Chartwell. Upon arrival she learned that she would be a housekeeper rather than a health aide as promised, and that her salary would be 3 dollars less than the TFW contract stipulated. But an employer has sole discretion to fire a TFW and send them home. So she did not complain.
Nor did she complain about the minimal job training she received, understaffing that made the job excruciating, or lack of fairness in shifts and hours. Once she married a Canadian citizen and became a permanent resident, she felt that she could speak out against injustices in the workplace. She and her diverse fellow workers joined AUPE and she became chair of Local 47 in 2019. With AUPE’s help the workers have attempted to require the recalcitrant employer to allow them to choose their own representatives on the compulsory occupational health and safety committee. They have demanded proper training regarding handling of cytotoxic medication and more adequate staffing. Another issue that they want addressed is the lack of leaves of absence.
Keywords: Chartwell; Contract violations; Cyclotoxic medication handling; Housekeepers; Human rights and TFWs; Leaves of absence for long-term care workers; Orientation and training in long-term care homes; Philippines.
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