PINAY, activist organization of Filipino domestic workers in Montreal denounces human rights abuses and violations perpetrated by a placement agency and the ineffectiveness of authorities and government agencies in protecting the rights of cheated domestic workers.
Super Nanny, a placement agency headed by John Aurora(who was the subject of a Radio-Canada report on “Immigration scammers” in 2003) , load of women from the Phillipines to 4500$ US so they can immigrate to Canada under the domestic help program, but when these women arrive in Canada, they are left with no employer and no choice but to pay rent to the placement agency for a shared bed in a squalid unit rented by the agency.
Sylvia Cordova, one of the 26 workers to complain to human rights commission against John Aurora testifies: “When I got here, I was taken to John Aurora's house and we all slept in the same bed. I didn't know women, but many of us had to live in the same room. They had no choice but to live there. They asked me to sign a lease. They told me not to read it, to only sign it. I paid 4500$ with the promise of an employer and a better life in Canada. But when I got there, they told me they didn't have an employer for me.»
One of the properties rented by Aurora only had two bathrooms for 27 residents. Women reported sleeping four in the same bed, with only a blanket. Others had to sleep on the floor. No visit was allowed after 21 hours, and while waiting to be assigned an employer, newcomers had to work for Aurora for free.
The delays before starting a job place these migrant domestic workers in a very precarious and stressful situation, because they have to complement 24 months of domestic work in the residence of their employer (whose name must appear on their work permit) to have the right to apply for permanent residence in Canada, according to the rules of the federal program live-in caregivers. When workers finally find a new employer, the hours worked for this employer do not automatically count to accumulate the period of 24 month, because delays of 6 months are often required before having a new work permit on behalf of the new employer.
PINAY emphasizes that the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the Régie du logement have failed to adequately protect the rights of migrant workers arriving in Canada through the help of the placement agency SuperNanny. PINAY has passed 18 months to prepare a case against SuperNanny, based on testimonials from 26 domestic workers. PINAY, who complained on behalf of these women, had to wait several months before hearing from the Rights Commission. Meanwhile, John Aurora is dead, and the Commission dismissed the complaint in the fall 2010 because John Aurora's daughter denied any personal involvement in the matter, and because the agency is not an incorporated business.
PINAY spent 18 months building a human rights case upon the testimonies of 26 caregivers against Super Nanny. PINAY, who filed on behalf of the women Super Nanny abused, waited months following the submission the complaints before they heard anything from the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
During this time, John Aurora died. The Quebec Human Rights Commission rejected the case in the fall of 2010 due to Aurora’s death, his daughter’s denial of being involved in the agency’s operations, and because Super Nanny is not an incorporated business.
Evelyn Calugay, the president of PINAY, informed the Commission of Aurora's death in September 2010, and inquired about the follow-up to the prosecution at the same time. Six weeks later, Commission summons dead for investigation. “They sent him a letter asking him to come in for interrogation, and sent him the files. I don’t know if it’s a standard procedure, but it seems strange to me to want to question a dead man“, said Calugay.
The claim of Aurora's daughter, who claims not to be involved in the case, is contradicted by the testimony of the victims and by its appearance at the Régie du Logement hearings between 2008 and 2010, which implicates him in the activities of Super Nanny. This is why PINAY declares itself outraged by the rejection of their complaint by the Human Rights Commission, and think to challenge the decision.
“We want provincial and federal governments to give migrant domestic workers equal treatment before the law. Because they are immigrants and women of color, they find themselves in an extremely precarious position. They don't have the protection they need“, said Fo Niemi, the director of CRARR, involved in the file with PINAY.
PINAY and CRARR also denounced the treatment of migrant domestic workers by the Régie du Logement. Over the years, Aurora has translated over 30 workers before the Régie for having broken annual leases which he fraudulently led them to sign. Frequently, these women were not even informed that a hearing would take place, and the Régie then proceeded in their absence. When Aurora won a lawsuit, he then hired a bailiff to seize the workers' bank account. He knew exactly where they had opened a bank account, since he “helped” himself to open them when they arrive in the country.
PINAY encourages all women who have done business with SuperNanny to contact them to collect their testimonials.