Canada’s ‘Special Immigration Offer’ for typhoon victims gains prais

By Alex P. Vidal / PNS

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The special measures initiated by the Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (CCIM) giving priority to applications for Canadian immigration of Philippine residents who have been seriously affected by a recent typhoon has been lauded by Filipino-Canadians here.

“The Canadian special immigration measures for Philippine typhoon victims are one of a kind,” said Felipe Macabenta III, a civil engineer, whose family was among those who suffered when Typhoon Ketsana wreck havoc in Luzon last September.

Macabenta, 48, of Richmond, B.C., said the special measures will now help expedite the papers of his wife, Felyn, a school teacher in, and two kids—Ritchie John, 16; and Felipe IV, 12—who live in Cainta, Rizal.

MILES AWAY

“My family lost their home and all I did was to cry here because I could not provide immediate help as I am thousands of miles away,” Macabenta narrated. “Pretty soon, we will be united here and I can guarantee the bright future of my children. Thanks to the program initiated by the Canadian Government.”

Reynaldo Fortaleza, an insurance executive and magazine publisher, lauded the Canadian Government’s “truly humane concern” for his countrymen.

“When those typhoon victims arrive here, there are plenty of jobs and opportunities waiting for them, so that they can recover from the stigma of the devastating loss in the Philippines they experienced,” said Fortaleza, a resident of Surrey, B.C.

Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, swamping entire towns, setting off landslides and leaving neighborhoods in the capital with destroyed houses, overturned vehicles and roads covered in mud and debris.

‘STATE OF CALAMITY’

The Philippines government had declared a “state of calamity” in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces, allowing officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue. At 86 people were killed and 32 others missing.

CCIM Minister Jason Kenney announced October 1 the special measures to help Philippine residents applying for Canadian immigration who have been seriously affected by Typhoon Ketsana.

“I would like to express my deepest sympathy and support for the people of the Philippines affected by this terrible disaster,” said Minister Kenney. “This government is moving quickly to reunite Canadians and permanent residents with their families by extending a welcome to those who wish to come to Canada.”

PRIORITY BASIS

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) visa office in the Philippines is reportedly responding on a priority basis by expediting new and existing applications by those seriously affected by the current situation.

This will mainly benefit family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons, said the CCIM.

There will also be priority processing of temporary residence applications of those adversely affected by the Typhoon.

This is reportedly on top of the $5 million for humanitarian assistance for those affected by Typhoon Ketsana as announced earlier by Canadian International Cooperation Minister Beverley J. Oda.