Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

May 13, 2009 12:22 ET

Ontario Federationof Labour Statement - Asian Heritage Month

Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, STATEMENT--(Marketwire - May 13, 2009) - In May 2002, the Canadian Government officially recognized May as Asian Heritage Month. This month is an opportunity for Canadians to acknowledge and celebrate the rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to our country. Since its inception in Toronto in 1993, cities across Canada including Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver have been holding annual festivities to recognize Asian Heritage Month.

The OFL, its affiliates and labour councils continue to encourage and respect the full participation of Asian Canadian union members in the labour movement, and also recognize the many barriers they had and continue to face throughout history to acquire equal access to full citizenship in Canada.

The mistreatment of Chinese labourers in Canada who toiled in dismal conditions and under inhumane circumstances to build the Canadian Railways in the 1880s, the abuse of South Asian agricultural workers at the beginning of the last century and the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War are enduring scars in Canadian history.

The struggle for basic rights and citizenship continues to this day. Since the early 1980's, nearly 100,000 Filipinos (mostly women) have come to Canada under the Foreign Domestic Movement and the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). These programs subject women to modern-day slavery. Many Filipino Live-in Caregivers are subject to all forms of abuse, 24-hour work and have little or no access to health care and other social services.

"The Live-in Caregiver Program needs to be formally changed to an open work permit and a permanent resident program that would allow workers to start right away," said Terry Downey, Ontario Federation of Labour officer responsible for Human Rights.

Labour looks forward to continuing to work cooperatively and proactively to strengthen the relationship with our Asian Canadian union members and our allies in the Asian Canadian communities. "In Canada and in the labour movement our history has taught us that diversity is our strength," Downey said. "We must celebrate, honour and respect all the workers that worked to build this country."

cope343 /For further information: Terry Downey
OFL Executive Vice-President
416.578.3230 (cellular)/ IN: LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138