QUEZON CITY, May 21-- Three foreign service posts began reopening in Canada, Ambassador Petronila Garcia of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Canada announced during the Public Briefing Laging Handa PH simulcast over PTV and PCOO social media platforms.
These are in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa.
Vancouver has opened onsite consular services from 9:00am to 3:00pm starting May 19. Visits to the Vancouver post shall be by appointment due to physical distancing regulations.
According to the Philippine Consulate General, the Toronto post was scheduled to resume its consular services on May 25, but visits were also stated to be by appointment to limit number of people. The Ottawa post was also set to re-open on the same date for passports and visa services. Under current regulations, only four to five persons with appointment schedules will be allowed to enter per hour.
The Philippine consular office in Calgary, however, was not allowed to open since the province of Alberta is still under stage 1 of reopening its community in its Covid-19 recovery plan. The provincial government gave restrictions specifically to the cities of Calgary and Brookes to open gradually due to higher number covid-19 cases and hospitalizations compared to other cities in the area.
Ambassador Garcia shared how the Philippine Foreign Service has been working hand-in-hand with its Filipino Community since the government of Canada had a lot of restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.
In light of the suspension of in-person consular services such as processing of passports, the embassy extended validity of passports about to expire for Filipinos to be able to extend their work permits.
"We have had to suspend the provision of in person consular services such as passporting, pero para matulungan namin iyong mga concern ng mga kababayan natin whose passports are about to expire but need to be extended, in-extend po iyong validity ng embassy, ng consulate iyong mga passports nila dahil pinayagan na po ng Department of Foreign Affairs ito, para sila ay maka-extend ng kanilang work permits," Garcia said.
She added that during the suspension, the embassy and its consulates have also been providing consular services by mail to continue to serve Filipinos under its jurisdiction.
"Nakakapag-extend kami ng assistance kasi malaki iyong spread, Canada is the second largest country in the world, so talagang malalayo ho iyong mga pinanggagalingan ng mga request for assistance." Ambassador Garcia said.
The embassy has been engaging the local Filipino Community to inform Filipinos about government assistance programs such as the DOLE-AKAP Program for OFWs and to provide assistance in repatriation requests. (JAMT/PIA-IDPD)