The ICU nurse who was to be deported back to the Philippines in the midst of a pandemic has won a reprieve, her lawyer announced today.
Nurse Christine Joyce Vega missed some paperwork and a related payment on a work permit extension that eventually led to a risk of deportation. In an email to Surrey-based community activist Narima Dela Cruz, Vega’s lawyer broke the news that the Immigration Department had granted Vega a work permit and cancelled her deportation in the face of publicity generated by an article in The Toronto Star.
After initially hearing of Vega’s plight, Dela Cruz quickly responded by reaching out to her contacts, among them Scarborough Centre MP Salma Zahid, King-Vaughan MP Deb Schulte, and former immigration minister Ahmed Hussen. She also contacted Vega’s lawyer, Luke McRae, who sent the information today.
“I feel relieved, blessed and happy,” Vega told The Toronto Star after hearing the decision.
Vega came to Canada as an international student at Conestoga College in 2015, earned her registered nurse licence and spent two years as an RN at the Markham Stouffville and Mackenzie Richmond Hill hospitals.
“My plan moving forward is to go back to my oath of duty as soon as possible to help the patients and serve the country,” Vega added.
The decision to let her stay in Canada came on the heels of an announcement today by the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Health. They have opened a portal to recruit health workers to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Technical errors shouldn’t frustrate the broader purposes of Canada’s immigration laws,” McRae told the Toronto Star. “Making the online immigration application process more user-friendly and providing an opportunity to correct technical errors would go a long way to ensuring people like Ms. Vega don’t end up in this predicament.”
Vega said as soon as she got the news from immigration and border officials this week, she reached out to her hospital managers and supporters, as well as her parents back home, who have pinned the family’s future on their daughter.
“I spread the good news to my relatives, co-workers and friends who sent me good luck and prayers when they saw The Star’s article,” Vega told the Toronto Star.
Ted Alcuitas is the founder of Canada's first Filipino newspaper, est. 1976. He is also former Senior Editor of Philippine Asian News Today and current publisher and editor of Philippine Canadian News.