Dying nanny told to leave country

Posted by admin on Jun 9th, 2008

June 09, 2008. Nicholas Keung. Toronto Star

Juana Tejada wants to stay – and die – in Canada. A live-in caregiver from the Philippines, the terminally ill cancer patient will be forced to leave when her work permit expires in two months, even though her period of service here as a nanny was supposed to be the gateway to permanent residency. Tejada has twice been denied a chance to stay, however, because her illness puts a burden on the health-care system.

“I only have one dying wish,” Tejada said after a recent chemotherapy session at Princess Margaret Hospital. She has stage 4 lung cancer, a disease that originated in her colon.

“I hope I get to stay to bring my family here, to give them a better future than in the Philippines.”

The 38-year-old came to Canada in 2003 under the federal live-in caregiver program, which grants permanent resident status to domestic workers after they complete their three-year assignments and obtain the necessary medical and criminal-record clearances.

Her cancer was found in 2006, during an exam for her immigration application. Tejada appealed to immigration officials to waive the good-health requirement for humanitarian reasons.

“While I am sympathetic to your situation, I am not satisfied that these circumstances justify granting an exemption,” a case processing officer in Alberta wrote in the latest decision. “In the opinion of a medical officer, this health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health and social services.”

Tejada has since asked Citizenship and Immigration Canada to reconsider, but her chance of succeeding seems as slim as her surviving the cancer. Doctors told her only 5 per cent of people in her condition are still alive after five years.

“I have paid my dues to earn my permanent residency. I have worked hard to try to give my family (her husband and six siblings) a better life,” said Tejada, who has been apart from her family since 1995, when she began working abroad as a domestic. “I didn’t want to have cancer. It is not my fault.”

Tejada, who is on morphine to ease her pain, was forced to quit her later job at a Tim Hortons because of her illness and has been living on disability assistance – another factor working against her application to stay. Her husband, Noli Azada, has flown in from their poor village to look after her.

“Juana has respected and followed all of our laws to the letter. If not for her cancer, she would have already been a permanent resident and realized her dream,” said her immigration lawyer, Rafael Fabregas.

“Is it right to kick her out of Canada now because she is dying?

“While it may be legal, I don’t think it’s right. It would be manifestly inhumane.”

Tejada and her husband, who is here on a visitor’s visa, have until Aug. 8 to leave the country.

Comments are closed.