Ontario legislature approves bill celebrating Filipino Heritage Month in June of every year

Starting this coming June and every year thereof, the Province of Ontario will officially celebrate Filipino Heritage Month following the passage of the bill that recognizes the Filipino contributions not just to Ontario but to the Canadian society in general.

Philippine Consul General Orontes Castro expressed his and the Filipino community’s appreciation to Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Doly Begum for her sponsorship of Bill 217, otherwise known as the “Filipino Heritage Month Act” during their one-on-one virtual meeting shortly after the legislative measure was approved.

Begum initially introduced the bill on October 20, 2020 until it received Royal Assent or the Monarch’s approval and came into effect on May 20, 2021.

The bill specifically recognizes the positive impact that the Filipino Canadian community has made and continues to make in Ontario and throughout the rest of Canada and the world, as well as the countless economic contributions the Filipino community has made to Ontario for generations.”

“Today is the day Bill 217 – An Act to Proclaim the month of June Filipino Heritage Month will be receiving Royal Assent this afternoon. So excited to share this win with Filipino Canadian community, can’t wait to celebrate the first official Filipino Heritage Month,” Begum tweeted after the measure’s approval.

In the past, similar motions have been undertaken to promote the Filipino Heritage Month Act of the Province of Ontario, such as the Filipino Heritage Month passed by the City of Toronto in November 2017 and by the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada in October 2018.

Begum’s fellow Ontario MPP and leader of the opposition New Democratic Party Andrea Horwath congratulated the Filipino community for their efforts and for the passage of the legislative measure.

“Every June in Ontario will now be proclaimed Filipino Heritage Month! Congratulation to everyone in the Filipino community for your efforts and your victory and to NDP MPP @DolyBegum for getting this important bill passed,” Horwath said in a tweet a day after the bill’s passage.

Begum is among the young generation of Canadians elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario during the 2018 provincial election and was recently appointed to a new critical role for Citizenship, Foreign Credentials, and Immigration Services, which comes as the NDP warns of a dire shortage of healthcare professionals during the pandemic.

It is a new portfolio that looks into foreign credentials held by many new Canadians seeking employment for which they are qualified, instead of taking on underemployed work.

As a Bangladeshi Canadian immigrant, Begum values that Ontario provides equal and equitable opportunities for newcomers and immigrants. She expressed continued support to the Filipino community.