Four Filipino immigrants to Yarmouth are looking forward to this summer with warmer temperatures and the chance to pick fruit fresh from bushes and trees.
Imagine arriving in Nova Scotia in February after leaving a homeland where temperatures were hovering around 35 to 40 degrees Celsius.
Jennie Jimenez, Joven Dimacali, Charlene Perez, Kristin Vilela are now training as shift managers for McDonalds in Yarmouth and plan on working here for at least two years.
They’ve left their families – three of them have spouses and young children – with the goal of eventually being able to sponsor their families to Canada to join them.
McDonald’s manager Jamie Rose tried to fill the positions locally, advertising for several months. He could only fill one of the five positions that were available.
It’s the first time he has hired staff from outside the country. The process was facilitated through Star Express Placement Inc. and Diamond Global Recruitment Company.
Rose says that with ferry service resuming, he is looking at possibly extending their hours, especially for early morning business.
“We wanted to offer the best service we could in that time,” he said.
Rose believes outmigration from the area is one of the factors contributing towards the difficulty of hiring local people.
Bringing in workers from another country is rife with hoops however.
“It is a tremendously time consuming and expensive process,” said Rose.
Government regulations had to be strictly adhered to and there were multiple forms and ongoing communications with Canadian Immigration.
As an employer of immigrants, he was obligated to provide a place for the newcomers to live and offer social support.
The four live in a home within walking distance of work and have become a second family to Cynthia Sayat, her daughters, and mother who are also from the Philippines and have resided in Yarmouth for many years.
One of the first questions the immigrants, all university graduates, asked of Rose was the availability of Internet in their residence – especially so they can keep in touch with their families.
“If I’m lonely I just talk to them on the Skype,” said Kristin Vilela, who has an 11-year-old and eight-year-old that she will not see in person for two years.
“We just have to adapt. It’s our decision to be here and so we have to be strong and face whatever challenges we face,” she added.
Each manager, once fully trained, will be responsible for supervising 15-20 staff depending on the time of day.
The four came to Canada for better opportunities for themselves and their families. Their monthly wage in the Philippines ranged from $650 to $790/month.
They say they appreciate the low crime rate, less pollution, beautiful natural surroundings and friendly people here.
“We are very grateful to Jamie and the Sayat family,” said Joven Dimacali.
Rose says because of Yarmouth’s size it is a harder destination to promote to immigrants, but word spreads through positive experiences for those who have immigrated.
“These four have friends in Toronto and British Columbia and those people are telling them, ‘You guys have it great. You can walk to work, you’re not stuck in traffic and there’s a smaller population’.”
He says his next step is to help guide the four through the immigration process.
“My goal ultimately would be to help repopulate Yarmouth,” said Rose.
“More businesses have to get on board and look positively at immigration.”
Jennie Jimenez, Joven Pimacali, Kristin Vilela and Charlene Perez are training as MacDonald’s shift managers. The four Filipino immigrants will not see their families (that includes young children) in person for the next two years.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO