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Philippine ambassador in Manitoba

Ambassador Austria discusses accreditation

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L-r: Consul Rodney Jonas Sumague and Consul General Angelica Escalona of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto; Ambassador Maria Andrelita Austria and Deputy Head of Mission, Myca Magnolia Fischer of the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa; Welfare Officer Benny Reyes of the Migrant Workers Office- Toronto; and Mr. Ronaldo Opina, Philippine Honorary Consul in Winnipeg. Photo by Rey-Ar

Philippine Ambassador to Canada Maria Andrelita S. Austria hosted a town hall meeting at the Holiday Inn on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

During this meeting with some members of Manitoba’s Filipino community, she expressed her observation that while Filipinos in Canada are occupying some of the most important jobs in Canadian society, “Our community was very much felt but we’re not seen, nor heard.”

She talked about Filipinos in Canada being “stereotyped.” This, she said could be the reason why Filipinos are having a hard time with getting their (foreign obtained) credentials accredited.

Following this observation, Ambassador Austria gave an overview of what the Philippine government is doing to help the Filipinos overseas.

Currently, she and her team are working with the federal and provincial governments regarding credentials recognition. She said that there has been some significant progress because some Canadian provinces now provide loans or financial assistance to immigrants to take their bridging programs. Some provinces, like Alberta and Nova Scotia, are now fast-tracking Philippine educated nurses.

Ambassador Austria also noted that there were some provinces who wanted to recruit nurses and health care workers directly from the Philippines. “But what we would like them to do is to look first at those who are already here, before they send recruitment missions to the Philippines.” In this regard, she said that they are now launching a registry for Filipino-educated nurses to determine the number of those who are working in their field versus those who have moved on to other career paths.

The Philippine ambassador also encouraged those present to help promote the Philippines among their friends, especially the non-Filipinos. Give them a “slice of Philippine experience” by taking them to Filipino restaurants so they can enjoy Filipino cuisine and encourage them to visit the Philippines.

“The more they know us, the more they’ll appreciate us and respect the talent that we bring to the table,” she added.

An open forum followed the ambassador’s speech and some attendees brought up some concerns. Ambassador Austria graciously answered the questions and took note of these concerns.

Prior to her assumption as the Philippines’ top diplomat to Canada in 2023, Ambassador Austria served as the Philippine Consul General to Vancouver and Assistant Secretary of the Office of American Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs.