Foreign workers see better future on P.E.I.


Published on March 28, 2017

Migrant worker Jocelyn Romero envisions a "better future'' living and working on Prince Edward Island to life in her home country of the Philippines where she earned the equivalent of $250 per month working in a factory.

©TC MEDIA/Jim Day

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Filipino Jocelyn Romero wants to be a permanent Island worker.

Romero, 39, came to P.E.I. in May 2016 by herself to work at South Shore Seafoods in Bloomfield.

She sought higher pay than the paltry $250 she earned each month as a factory worker in the Philippines.

The $12.50 hourly wage at the lobster processing plant is “much better’’. She also describes working conditions as both good and safe.

“So far I am good with my work now,’’ she says. “I am enjoying the environment, my co-workers.’’

Romero is among the 700 to 1,000 migrant workers who have turned to P.E.I. for employment over the past few years with the bulk finding labour intensive work in fisheries and agriculture but others earning a living in manufacturing and even trucking.

Romero just received a new work permit that expires Jan. 15, 2018. She hopes for an extension to the contract.

She would jump at the opportunity to stay and work on P.E.I. permanently for years to come, especially if she could land a better job and bring her husband, who is working in a factory in Korea, here to live with her.

“Of course, if given a chance,’’ she says. “Why not? I can see a better future here.’’

Right now, Romero, like other migrant workers in the province, is tied to a work permit that only allows her to work for a single employer in a single location in a single job.

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he would like the Liberal government do more to help provide permanent status to migrant workers like Romero.

“Rather than feeling that we are inviting them here to be exploited, to do jobs that none of the rest of us want to do, I think we should be welcoming them and treating them like equal citizens and Islanders,’’ he says.

“So that path to permanent residency here, which I think is a critical thing which needs to be done, again falls under provincial jurisdiction and something that we could do something about.’’