JIS News

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has charged the first batch of farm workers to be dispatched for 2013 under the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Programme, to be good ambassadors for the country.

The 172 workers, 50 of whom will be travelling for the first time, will leave the island for Canada on a chartered flight on Thursday, January 3, to work in a number of sectors

Addressing the workers at the Ministry's East Street offices on Wednesday (January 2), the Minister stated that there has been an increase in the number of requests for Jamaican workers from Canada, “and it is because of the work that you do there that sets the tone for the Canadian employers to request more Jamaican workers."

Mr. Kellier said the country has positioned itself to take advantage of the growing demand for labour in Canada, especially in industries, such as healthcare, transportation and the fast food/hospitality sectors, in the western and Atlantic Provinces like Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

He reported that during a recent visit to Canada, he had discussions with several existing and prospective employers as well as Canadian Federal and Provincial Government officials in these provinces. Consequently, several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were developed to provide the framework for the marketing of activities and Jamaican skills in these areas.

It is against this background that he has projected at least a 10 per cent increase in the number of workers to be dispatched in 2013, up from the approximately 12,000 who were sent to the USA and Canada last year to fill traditional and non-traditional vacancies.

“In 2012 we had a very good year and we want to make sure that this year we break the record for all the years preceding,” he said.

The Minister informed that the Overseas Employment Programme has contributed billions of dollars to the Jamaican economy, quoting figures that show a growth from 2008. The figures revealed that in 2008 there was remittance of CDN$8.45 million compared to CDN$16 million in 2012.  He told the workers that they are playing their part in the economy and it is important for the Ministry to support them

He also reported that a liaison office established in British Columbia has been strengthened to consolidate Jamaica’s efforts in the Western Provinces and noted that the 50 new workers leaving the island are the direct outcome of the new initiatives launched in these provinces.

Mr. Kellier implored the new workers “to demonstrate professionalism while on the job, so that the Ministry’s overseas employment programmes can be expanded to provide opportunities for other unemployed Jamaicans."

Speaking with JIS News, first time participant, Davon Beckford of Bethesda, in   St. Ann, is hoping for the best. “My expectation is to go over there and see if I can get a house and take care of my family. That is what I want to get out of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, St. Elizabeth resident, Oral Stewart, said his first year on the programme in 2010 was very challenging. “Getting to know what the programme is like and the experience helped me to appreciate who I am, where I am coming from and where I want to go,” he said.

“I just want to encourage everyone who go on this programme to remember that this is a programme that is set to help us in many areas…I also want to ask them to be at their very best behaviour and ensure that the programme will continue to help generation after generation,” Mr. Stewart told JIS News.