Taiwan proposes assistance mechanism for seriously ill migrant workers

Taiwan will raise the issue of migrant workers who fall ill and become too sick to fly home during bilateral meetings with countries that provide most of the nation's foreign laborers a senior Ministry of Labor (MOL) official said on Wednesday.

The ministry will propose the establishment of a mechanism to assist such migrants, said Hou Song-ting (???), a senior inspector at the MOL's Workforce Development Agency, at a press conference held by Kuomintang Legislator Chen Shei-saint (???) at the Legislative Yuan.

Hou was responding to Chen's appeal for such a mechanism, which the lawmaker said is necessary to prevent seriously ill foreign workers in Taiwan from becoming an unwanted burden.

Chen brought up the case of an Indonesian care giver -- known only as Sina -- who he said came to Taiwan in March 2014 but fell ill eight months later and eventually became paralyzed due to a parenchymal lesion on her spine.

At present, Sina is confined to a hospital bed in Taiwan and cannot breath without the assistance of a ventilator, Chen said.

Sina's right of abode will expire next year, but despite wanting to return home, she is unable to afford an expensive flight on a medical aircraft back to her home country, he said.

The lawmaker pointed out that at present the government has no assistance programs to deal with seriously ill migrant workers, who end up dependent on civil relief aid in Taiwan.

"Once private sector assistance fades, seriously ill foreign migrants could become a problem no one wants to deal with," Chen warned.

Taoyuan Employment Service Institute Association Chairman Huang Kao-chieh (???) noted that the government operates the 113 and 1955 hotlines for cases of sexual assault and violence involving foreign workers.

However, seriously ill foreign laborers have become an intractable problem over the past two decades, Huang said, expressing hope that the government will provide something similar to the 1955 hotline to deal with such cases.

Hou said there does exist a mechanism that offers "consolation payments" to foreigners facing financial difficulties while working in Taiwan.

In Sina's case, the MOL has asked the Indonesian government for assistance, Hou said, noting that it has also contacted the Indonesian representative office in Taipei, which promised to apply for financial help from its government.

As for the appeal to establish a regular assistance mechanism to address the medical and health care problems of severely sick workers, the official expressed the hope that agreements could be reached in nation-to-nation bilateral meetings with the relevant countries.

There are about 600,000 migrant workers in Taiwan, according to MOL statistics.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel