Filipino residents and migrant workers are now facing the forbidding prospect of leaving Canada altogether, after wildfires ravaged Fort McMurray, the country’s remote oil-producing region>
The wildfires in northern Alberta have forced the evacuation of 100,000 people, two dozen of who are migrant workers who arrived at a government shelter in Edmonton.
Marco Luciano of the migrant advocacy group Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights in Canada said many evacuees evacuated their work and did not have the time to stop at home to pick up their clothes and belongings. Evacuees also worried about their residency status since they no longer have work.
Employers are still checking the status of the wildfire before announcing whether they will still be providing work.
According to Luciano’s group, there are about 70,000 temporary foreign workers accredited in Alberta, the percentage of displacements due to the fire still unknown.
Considered a popular destination for foreign workers over the past decade, many work in Fort McMurray’s restaurants, lodges, and hospitals. The area was where the service industry lobbied hard to ease the rules for temporary foreign workers, who are needed in boom years when oil prices are higher.
Canadian immigration officials are investigating the situations to see if temporary foreign workers would be allowed an extended stay in Canada. Meanwhile, several foreign embassies have offered assistance, which include replacing lost passports and advancing travel home.
— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) May 7, 2016