Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, has assured that the Canadian Overseas Employment Programme is a sound, viable avenue for jobs overseas, and is in good financial standing.
“The Ministry is proud of its recruitment record and takes very seriously, its responsibility to the workers and their employers,” Mr. Charles stated on March 15 in the House of Representatives.
He was responding to a recent newspaper article, which he said, “gave the impression that some of our overseas employers were refusing Jamaican workers because they are not suitable.” He pointed out that no contact was made with the Ministry for verification or clarification on the piece.
Mr. Charles stated that the Jamaican liaison service in Canada, to which the article referred, protects the interests of workers and ensures that the employers receive value for money.
He informed that four per cent is deducted from the earnings of the workers to meet the administrative cost of services provided, including medical, legal and social welfare. The deduction is managed by a committee appointed by Cabinet, which includes representatives from the major trade unions, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, and the Attorney General’s Department.
Additionally he said, every two years, officers from the Auditor General’s Department spend two weeks in Canada, auditing the programme. “No major issue has arisen over the years as the Auditor General’s report will attest, regarding the financial state of the programme,” he told the House.
Turning to the reduction in surplus for 2009/2010, which was raised in the Auditor General’s report and referenced in the article, Minister Charles said this was related mainly to the establishment of two new offices in British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.
“The objective is to take advantage of new job opportunities in these areas,” he told the House.
He informed that in 2007/2008, the excess of income over expenditure was Cdn$326,000, which increased in 2008/2009 to Cdn$821,000, and was recorded at Cdn$149,000 in 2009/2010.
Minister Charles said that although these two offices will incur some initial outlay, over time, it is expected that current employment figures will be surpassed.
“Indeed, we have diversified the programme and are now dispatching workers to the health care, auto, mechanics, and hospitality sectors in Canada,” he said.
CONTACT: ALPHEA SAUNDERS