Filipinos in Alberta hope immigration results are swift
Not everyone confident the promised fast-track will happen
Filipinos in Alberta hope the Canadian government's pledge to fast-track immigration for those affected by the typhoon in their homeland will be seen sooner rather than later.
The majority of the 42,000 Filipinos currently working in the province are temporary foreign workers.
- Alberta search dogs heading to typhoon-ravaged Philippines
- Canada prioritizes immigration applications for Filipinos affected by storm
- Typhoon-struck Philippine city begins mass burial
Maria Isalee Labao lives in Calgary, but her husband and son are in the midst of the chaos overseas.
"They're crying for help; they're crying for food and water," she said.
She has been trying to get her family here since 2009 and is hoping a new announcement by the government might speed up their reunion.
"Finally, finally — maybe there is a wonderful thing happening from the typhoon," said Labao.
Federal Minister Jason Kenney says it is limited to applications already in the works.
"Let's say there's a Canadian woman of Filipino origin who has married a guy who lives in the affected area and they're
waiting for their spousal sponsorship application, that might normally take a few months," he said. "In this case they would speed it up."
Lack of details criticized
But Kenney said he understands from Immigration Canada there are very few people from the affected regions with pending applications.
In addition to prioritizing the processing of applications from Filipinos who are "significantly and personally" affected by the typhoon, the Canadian Embassy in Manila will also expedite the applications of Canadians who are without travel documents as a result of the typhoon.
Requests from Filipino citizens temporarily in Canada who wish to extend their stay will also be assessed in a "compassionate and flexible manner," government officials said Wednesday.
Labao says she does not place much hope she will see her family quickly.
"I came here with the promise it would be three years and it's been six years," she said as tears streamed down her face.
She called immigration services as well as the prime minister's office and has yet to hear back.
Michelle Sari helps co-ordinate applications for new immigrants. She has been taking calls from people asking about the fast-track program but is frustrated with the lack of details.
"All they're saying is they will be more flexible, but how? What's the process? How long will it take?"
With files from Bryan Labby and Tara Weber