Advertisement

Guardian Angels program for asylum seekers leaving spouses, family members behind

Click to play video: 'Guardian Angels program for asylum seekers leaving spouses, family members behind' Guardian Angels program for asylum seekers leaving spouses, family members behind
WATCH: Guardian Angels program for asylum seekers leaving spouses, family members behind – Mar 16, 2021

Floride Joseph is at her wit’s end.

Her late husband, Dan Vaidis St-Pierre, died in April 2020 from COVID -19, just shy of his 44th birthday. He was an essential worker and a refugee claimant.

“Mr. St-Pierre, who died, was working in the auto industry,” explained Paule Robitaille, Quebec MNA for the Bourassa-Sauvé riding.

Since December 2020, people applying for refugee status who worked on the COVID-19 front lines were able to start applying for permanent residency status, but only those who worked in health care. Their spouses or common law partners qualified as well.

Read more: Program to give residency to asylum seekers on COVID-19 front lines to open next week

“Because of [the death], the widow cannot qualify for the Guardian Angels program,” said Robitaille.
Story continues below advertisement

Now Joseph, who is also an asylum seeker, says she’s alone with five children, including a young toddler, and is unable to make makes ends meet.

“My spirit is not at peace,” she said in Haitian Créole via a translator in front of her Montreal North apartment. “I have no money and I’m at a loss for what to do.”

She pointed out that she’s afraid she’ll eventually be deported back to Haiti. According to a Canadian government travel advisory updated March 11, 2021, “kidnappings of Haitians, dual-nationals and foreigners alike has increased in recent months in Port-au-Prince.”

Click to play video: 'Asylum seekers on COVID-19 front lines given chance at permanent residency' Asylum seekers on COVID-19 front lines given chance at permanent residency
Asylum seekers on COVID-19 front lines given chance at permanent residency – Aug 14, 2020

Advocates like Franz André say the situation with Joseph is just one example why the Guardian Angels program needs be expanded to include all essential service workers.

“Most of them are working in places that Canadians do not want to work,” he pointed out.

Story continues below advertisement

He added that for the families who are left behind after one of the workers dies from COVID, the emotional strain is heavy.

“A lot of them are at the point of depression and even suicidal,” André noted.

According to Robitaille, the current program is not fair. On social media, the MNA paid tribute to people in her riding who died from the pandemic, including asylum seekers like St-Pierre who worked on the front lines, saying it was her way of saying thanks.

“These people gave everything to the Quebec society. They gave everything of themselves and they died for us,” she said.

Joseph wonders what’s next for her, saying she hopes the government hears her plea and opens up the program.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not provide comments to Global News in time for deadline.

Sponsored content