The Full Story
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Karl Samuda, says persons employed in the Canada-Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme are well regarded on the farms where they are engaged and are seen as valuable team members.
The Minister noted that on his recent visit to Canada, the farm owners spoke “very highly” of the workers.
“Everyone I spoke to, the message was simply, ‘we don’t know what we would do without the Jamaican workers’, and I would extend that to the [other] Caribbean people who are engaged in the programme, because they said to me in a declarative fashion, ‘without these workers we could not survive’.
“That made me very proud as a Jamaican, as a member of the Government of Jamaica and as a Caribbean person. It made me feel a sense of great pride,” Mr. Samuda said.
He was addressing the opening ceremony for the programme’s annual review meeting at the Hilton Resort in Montego Bay, St. James, on Tuesday (November 15).
Minister Samuda said that an expansion of the programme should be considered, noting that this would benefit the Canadian economy and create more opportunities for Caribbean farm workers.
“I am looking forward to the expansion of the programme involving our people, and I speak now of Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean,” he said.
The Minister urged the stakeholders, during the review meeting, to also seek to identify and address weaknesses, including the likelihood of persons going absent while on the programme.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Employment and Social Development in Canada, Michael McPhee, said that the agricultural sector in Canada is a major contributor to the economy .and acknowledged the role of farm workers from the Caribbean.
He noted that some 8,000 workers from the region are taking part in the programme this season.
For his part, President of the Ontario-based Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), Ken Forth, commended “the men and women, who have come to our farms to work over the last 56 years”.
The farm group brings workers from around the world to Canada to plant, grow and harvest crops.
“I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This is a historic programme – 56 years and still relevant. This programme is still in existence today, thanks to farmers and farm workers alike, the persons in this room today and the persons who have sat in this room over the last 50 years. It is important to all of us and all our countries that you all know that,” he said.
The review meeting will end on November 17.