Ms. Valesco was at a meeting in Toronto on April 25 when one of the caregivers, Magdalene Gordo, told Ontario provincial cabinet ministers Peter Fonseca and Kathleen Wynne about her alleged travails at the hands of the Dhallas.
She was also at a roundtable the following day, April 26, with Mr. Kenney.
'It was supposed to be a meeting to discuss the live-in caregiver program in general with the nannies and some of the advocates from my community,' said Ms. Valesco.
None of the caregivers who have complained about Ms. Dhalla participated, nor was Mr. Kenney told about their situation, she said.
'We were not able to talk about it because there were so many people around the table so there was not a lot of time,' said Ms. Valesco. 'It was really in our agenda to talk about it, but unfortunately there were so many people, we were told that we were only allocated about five minutes.'"
Here's a picture of Ms. Valesco at the meeting in question. She's the one in the scarf next to Jason Kenney: And here's an account of her presentation at that meeting:
Pura Velasco, organizer of Caregiver Support Services, and a former caregiver herself who has been advocating for two decades for the rights of caregiveres, emphasized to Minister Kenney that the live-in requirement without status is the “heart of the problem” of the program. “Even if the provincial government tries its best to implement the employment standards, without status in a live-in condition, the confidence of the caregivers to assert their right to basic employment standards is diminished,” she said.
Velasco added that in her written submission to the Minister, she had indicated that she and caregivers would like to work with Minister Kenney and his staff closely, just like what they are doing now with the provincial government. “We have lots of creative ideas in resolving the issues of the caregiver program,” she said, but which would be difficult to thoroughly discuss in a dialogue setting. To this suggestion, the Minister informed the group of the presence of a staff in his Ministry who could also help.
Julius Tiangson informed the Minister of the settlement issues affecting live-in-caregivers and other temporary foreign workers and other newscomers are about economic integration. He spoke of their already limited economic options becoming even narrower through the years, especially when families join them. For this reason, he informed the minister, his agency, as a settlement provider organization, has already submitted proposals based on a number of calls for proposals by Kenney’s department. “ He then requested the Minister to look into a copy of the full proposal which he turned over to Kenney at the meeting.
At this point, Kenney responded to Velasco’s recommendations. Following the series in the Toronto Star, he said he had discussions with the provincial minister and that they had agreed that the Ontario government and federal government will collaborate more closely on issues relating to the live-in-caregivers program. He also said they will consider the Manitoba law with respect to the recruitment agencies.
...which sounds perhaps more extensive than a mere five minute encounter.
Now, one shouldn't got too far with this. Clearly the nannies in question had concerns, and had expressed these concerns to various people, prior to April 2009. On the other hand, Kenney and co. were very swift to milk the issue when it first hit the papers. Did Ms. Valesco really say nothing to Minister Kenney, and was there no contact between the minister and the nannies previous to the story breaking? Note Kenney's slightly weaselly responses to questions as to when and if he had met the nannnies here.
And, on the other other hand, we are three weeks into this "scandal", and no complaints (as far as I know) have been filed by the nannies with the Ontario Ministry of Labor. This whole thing is being decided in the newspapers. If the charges against Ms. Dhalla are to be considered credible, then something more serious than the making of allegations has got to happen.