Filipino immigrants have flocked to Manitoba in a wave. Canada had only a small population of Filipinos until late in the 20th century. The first Filipinos began coming to Canada in 1930. In the 1950 census, Manitoba was home to approximately 10 Filipinos. These first Filipino-Canadians (with increasing numbers this name evolved) were primarily women, looking for work as teachers, nurses, or in the health industry. At first, Filipinos came from the United States and were looking to renew their work visas, then return to the U.S. However, once Filipinos realized what an idyllic community Winnipeg, Manitoba was, they began to settle in Manitoba.
From 1946 to 1964, the total of Filipinos in Canada was 770. During the 1960s, Canada recruited professionals from the United States and directly from the Philippines. Most Filipinos during these migrations, new citizens worked in the health industry, as office workers, and in the manufacturing sector. In the 1980’s an influx of Filipino’s migrated to Winnipeg. The 1990’s saw Filipinos migrating as whole families. From 1990 onward, there has been a steady flow of Filipinos entering Canada, with about 10 to 20 thousand coming in every year. Filipinos took the lead from China in 2008, as the biggest source of immigrating peoples. In the Province of Manitoba, the Filipino community reached 60,000, because of an immigration boom that took place over past five year.
According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there are 662,600 people of Filipino descent living in Canada. The majority of new Filipino immigrants were dependents who used a program called PNP. PNP is The Provincial Nominee Program. The program helps provinces to directly recruit workers with specific job skill sets/and skill that are comparable for specific industries. Immigration Minister, Christine Melnick, stated that the increased number of Filipino’s coming to Manitoba should be a source of pride for the province. “This is a real success story,” Melnick said. “This is proof that we have a good reputation within the Philippines and a very strong Filipino community here.”
Fred De Villa, a Filipino community activist and longtime immigration advocate, said Manitoba has become a preferred destination for those that want to leave the Philippines. This in part is due to the growing Filipino community that not only lets them celebrate their heritage and culture due to the amount of Filipino’s already settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Another factor in the Filipino immigration increase is because of the province’s low cost of living. Newly arrived Filipino immigrants to Manitoba easily find support systems, including cultural, food, music, news, and other services to make their trek to Manitoba successful. “Winnipeg may not be known as much as some of the other cities in Canada, but for those Filipinos looking for a good life and lots of support, this is the place to come,” De Villa said.
De Villa said he had concerns about about the future of the PNP. The federal government has resisted Manitoba’s requests to increase its annual quota of PNP applicants. The PNP has implied that Manitoba may have to share their total share of Filipino immigrants with other provinces, like Ontario. Each year, Manitoba receives about 5,000 PNP applicants. The success of the program as it correlates with Manitoba has set records with its retention rate. This is due to the support systems in place. Applicants would no longer qualify under the skilled worker stream of the federal government’s immigration program, which included between 7,000 to 8,000 PNP applicants that arrive in Manitoba each year. The number of immigrants will exceed approximately 60,000. Manitoba’s Filipino community represents 10 percent of the Winnipeg population. Just to get an impression of what these numbers mean Manitoba’s Filipino community is comparable to the size of the entire city of Vancouver, which was 78,000 at the last census.
The continued success of the PNP program will have to take a serious look at the numbers before changing the existing system. If the program changes drastically it could have detrimental effects, especially in Manitoba. Examples of the influx of immigration from the Philippines to Manitoba as are evidenced in the 2011 census. However, considering the contributions, the Filipino’s have made by implementing their own newspapers, radio, television stations, and numerous cultural activities, drastic changes could be a disaster for the economy of Manitoba.
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