By Robbie Pangilinan
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) in Manila fully prepares Filipino immigrants even before they set foot in Canadian soil, through the Pathways to Canada pre-arrival program, approved by the Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
The program is funded by the Canada immigration to help prepare newcomers for moving to Canada. It provides free services such as settlement and employment/career information, orientation, and referral; needs assessment; and personalized settlement plan with other links to in-Canada resources.
“We provide newcomers with help on how to find employment in the skilled trades and other disciplines in Canada. Everything you need to know is provided – what you need to get a job, education options, settlement challenges, housing and transportation, and more, all for free” says Connie Catanes, Program Officer of MHHS Manila.
The distinct advantages of MHHS Pathways to Canada are its specially trained and qualified Orientation officers who have undergone complete immersion training in Canada, customized and culturally appropriate orientation materials and programs, totally dedicated and motivated staff who fully understand the Filipino psyche’ and challenges, delivery of a blended program on-ground and on-line, and of course, organizational integrity and passion, evident in MHHS’ 21 years of community service.
The Multicultural Helping House Society is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and funded by the government of Canada. It opened its office in the Philippines two years ago, initially to prepare permanent Visa Holders for a new life in a new country. The Davao City office was opened five months ago in an effort to reach as many emigrants and prepare them for their new life in Canada.
“In the last couple of years, only about 10% of emigrants are reached by the MHHS. But now, we have exceeded our target number of clients served by 500%!” said Tomas Avendaño, Tatay Tom to the thousands of Filipino immigrants he has helped. He was one of the 10 founders of the Filipino-Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS), a group that has been assisting immigrants since 1996. The FCSSS was renamed the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) in 2001, which has since helped 200,000 Filipinos with its respite housing, training and counselling facilities, settlement and employment services, and special programs for youth, senior citizens and families.
The pilot project was launched by Canada immigration 10 years ago to smoothen the settlement and integration experience of the new immigrants.
“It’s a win-win program for the migrants and the country as a whole. Getting ready is the secret,” added Tatay Tom, the President and CEO of the MHHS.
The Philippines is the number 1 source of immigrants to Canada since 2014, displacing India and China. More than 40,000 Filipinos migrate to Canada every year and the number of immigrants to Canada is approaching the million mark.