JIS News

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, has said that the mutual, social and economic benefits enjoyed by Jamaica and Canada have kept the Farm Work Programme going for the past 40 years.
“The programme represents a very strong partnership between Jamaica and Canada. For this partnership to have not only survived, but also blossomed and grown over the years, suggests that it has been able to meet the needs of you the farmers, the Governments of Canada and Jamaica, as well as the workers,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier was addressing a group of Canadian farmers who are part of the programme, at a reception held recently at the Niagara Golf Club in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, to mark the 40th anniversary of the inception of the programme.
The seasonal agricultural workers programme, which began in 1966 with 264 workers, is based on “Canada’s need for hardworking, disciplined and honest workers and Jamaica’s need to find avenues of meaningful work for high quality labour, which we have in abundance”, said the Minister.
Just over 5,000 Jamaican workers – both men and women – come to Canada each year, working on Canadian farms from February to November. The programme has also grown from only the province of Ontario, to include the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. Other countries are also now part of the seasonal programme, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and Mexico.
“Thousands of Jamaicans, their families, entire communities as well as the economies of both Jamaica and Canada have benefited from the programme,” said Minister Kellier. He added that the workers and the Government of Jamaica appreciate the loyalty demonstrated by the Canadian employers, “many of whom keep requesting the same workers year after year”.
Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake, His Worship Gary Burroughs, had commendations for the programme, calling it a “win-win for both Jamaica and Canada. This is the kind of association and togetherness that we need to benefit both countries”.
Member of Parliament, Rob Nicholson, in bringing greetings, said the programme was just one of the many ties that bind both Jamaica and Canada.
Also in attendance were several Jamaican workers; Solicitor General of Jamaica, Michael Hylton; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Alvin McIntosh, who is also Chairman of the Farm Work Management Committee; Director of Manpower Services in the Ministry, Donna Adams; the Minister’s special advisor, Phyllis Mitchell; Vice-President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Councillor Glendon Harris; Jamaica’s Acting High Commissioner to Canada, Patricia Rodney-Evering; President of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), Ken Forth; and members of the Jamaica Liaison Service.
While in Canada, Minister Kellier also visited several farms and spoke with Jamaican farm workers. The Minister told the 75 workers at the Suntastic Hothouse Farm and at the Rose-a-Lea Gardens, which both grow vegetables hydroponically, to keep the flag of Jamaica flying high.
“Continue to be the standard bearer and represent Jamaica’s image well. Remember when you come here, you are one Jamaican under one flag singing one song,” the Minister said.
At Greenhill Produce, another Hothouse enterprise, Mr. Kellier implored the workers to learn as much as they could about the technology of hydroponics.
On the hydroponic farms, vegetables are grown indoors without soil or sunlight in a building or “hothouse” under controlled conditions.