By Rodolfo Andal
PHILIPPINE diplomatic officials in Canada met with ranking government officials to discuss ways to advance the welfare of the Filipino diaspora in Alberta.
Ambassador to Canada Petronila P. Garcia and Consul General in Calgary Gilberto G.B. Asuque called on Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman at her office in the Alberta Legislature Building, where they discussed programs for the welfare of Filipinos in Alberta Province.
Citing 2016 data from Statistics Canada, Garcia noted that the Filipino migrants comprise one of the largest and fastest growing ethnocultural groups in Canada.
There are approximately 837,135 individuals who have identified as having Filipino ethnic originals. Of the total Canadian population, approximately 2.4 percent identify as Filipino.
The Ambassador further noted that based on the 2016 census, immigrants from the Philippines represented the highest percentage of total immigrants to Canada between 2011 and 2016.
In the light of these data, Ambassador Garcia stressed the importance of enhancing people-to-people relations through various activities that will foster closer interaction among the professional, educational and cultural sectors of the Philippines and Alberta through visits, student and faculty exchange, and exhibits in arts and dances.
Hoffman, for her part, expressed appreciation over the contribution of the Filipino diaspora in the social, economic, cultural and historical richness of the Province of Alberta, which was cited in the proclamation declaring June of each year as Philippine Heritage Month in Alberta.
Also during the meeting, Hoffman presented Garcia a copy of the proclamation of the Philippine Heritage Month with the translation in Pilipino.
The Deputy Premier noted that after English and French, Filipino is the third dialect spoken in Alberta.
She also expressed her appreciation for the professionalism and work ethics of Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians employed in the various administrative, health, social welfare, and engineering departments of the Alberta Government.
Garcia and Asuque, at the same time, sought the assistance of Deputy Premier Hoffman in establishing close coordination with the Provincial Government, for the safety and security of Filipinos especially during emergency situations.
Later in the day, the Filipino diplomats met Kelly J. McCauley MP at his constituency office in Edmonton. Mr. McCauley was elected MP in October 2015 for his electoral district in Edmonton West, where many Filipinos and Filipino-Canadian reside.
Garcia and Consul General Asuque discussed with MP McCauley the concerns of Filipino Community leaders regarding the recognition of academic qualifications obtained in the Philippines for certain professions in Canada.
MP McCauley took note of the concerns and other issues discussed during the meeting, and offered to bring the matter to the attention of the relevant Federal Government agencies.
MP McCauley conveyed to Ambassador Garcia his appreciation and admiration for the professionalism of Filipino workers in his constituency, especially in health care such as nurses and caregivers. He also expressed appreciation for the voluntary spirit of the Filipinos in his district, especially in church services and in other community activities.
Moreover, the Member of Parliament offered the assistance of his office for Filipinos who need to address or resolve matters pertaining to their immigration status in Canada.