A young woman who came to Canada as a temporary foreign worker, but was paralyzed in an accident, is asking Canadian officials not to deport her before a decision is made on her permanent residence application.

Maria Victoria Venancio arrived in Edmonton in 2011, having been brought from the Philippines under the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program to work at McDonald’s.

Seven months after she arrived, she was struck by a car. The accident left her a quadriplegic and unable to work.

She has been living in Canada illegally since her accident, without medical coverage to pay for treatment. She has been receiving free physiotherapy as part of a research project at the University of Alberta.

“Right now I’m having lots of remarkable improvement,” Venancio, 29, told reporters on Monday.

Venancio wants to stay in Edmonton to continue her physiotherapy and, someday, begin working again.

She has applied for permanent residence status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Her lawyer, Chris Bataluk, is pleading with officials not to deport Venancio before a decision is made on that application.

“They have in somewhat similar circumstances allowed people to remain in Canada while their application was being processed,” Bataluk told reporters. “So I’m hopeful that in this circumstance they will, as well.”

If Venancio is deported, she would have to live with family in the Philippines who live three hours from a major urban centre, Bataluk said.

“And the simple lack of infrastructure there would present incredible challenges to her,” he added.

There are some 70,000 temporary foreign workers in Alberta, MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said Monday, adding that Venancio’s case raises concerns about how Canada deals with those who come here and then cannot work.

“We definitely need to take a look at how we deal with TFWs…who injure themselves either at work or off-work hours,” Lukaszuk told CTV Edmonton.

“Do we simply just discard them because they can’t work anymore, they’re of no use to us, or do we take care of them?”

With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Nicole Weisberg