Some 177 farm workers departed the island this morning (January 5), to take up employment on farms in Toronto, Canada.
The men, who met with Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, at the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Services Centre, downtown Kingston, before departing the island, are the first batch of workers to leave the country for 2011. They will take up employment on some 23 farms across Toronto.
Minister Charles said this send off marks another success in the efforts of the Ministry to take advantage of overseas employment opportunities amid the recession. In his charge to the workers, he said they must continue to be ambassadors for the country, to ensure the growth and extension of the farm work programme.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles (left), bids farewell to farm worker Clifton Llewellyn (seated 3rd left), after addressing the workers, who left the island for Canada. The meeting was held at the Overseas Employment Services Centre, downtown Kingston.
Mr. Charles noted that despite the effects of the recession, some 6,389 Jamaicans were employed in Canada through the farm work programme in 2010. He further told the men that the continued success of the programme is solely dependent on their performance and how well they represented their country.
“I am appealing to you this morning to let us keep this programme going and to tell you the programme can only go on based on your performance. A negative performance destroys the programme. A positive performance increases the need for the Jamaican farmer,” he said.
The Minister also bemoaned the passing of two Jamaican farmers last year and cautioned the men to be vigilant and mindful of their safety as they carry out their jobs.
“Always be conscious of your safety. When you’re working, look at your surroundings, look to make sure you’re secure,” he advised.
The Canada/Jamaica Agricultural Workers Programme began more than 40 years ago and sees roughly 6,000 Jamaican workers going to Canada annually to meet the temporary seasonal needs of Canadian farm operators.