A former Cap-Pelé fish plant worker who used her Canadian wages to support four children back in the Philippines, says she's been blocked from returning to New Brunswick due to changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program.
"Honestly, we feel so sad because we can't work no more," said Josephine Angott via Skype from the Philippines.
Since 2011, Angott has worked at Cape Bald Packers and she was planning to return next month. That was denied because Angott would exceed her four-year welcome.
Effective April 1, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada set a four-year cap on the cumulative time any temporary foreign worker could spend in this country. Once that threshold has been met, workers must stay out of Canada for four years before they can return.
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"That's where she is now," said Roland Moreno, president and founder of the Filipino-Canadian Community of New Brunswick.
"She can't come back for another four years."
Moreno says this is just the first wave of Filipino workers to be denied entry. He predicts many more will find themselves blocked from their jobs in New Brunswick over the next six to eight months.
"These are people with ties to the community," he said. "They go to church. They contribute to the economy. They pay taxes."
While visiting Miramichi Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the federal rules were changed to protect Canadian workers, especially in regions where there's high unemployment.
Cape Bald Packers director Doris Losier says she is committed to hiring Canadians, but she can't find enough to do the work, especially during peak lobster season.
That's when fishermen rely on her processing plant to handle their catches, she says. Losier describes the fishing season as a short window of productivity and a time when everyone needs to make the most of it.
If the fishing plants in rural New Brunswick collapse, the local economy would be hurt, says Losier.