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  • Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he is pleased with operations at the Overseas Employment Programme, which deals with the processing of workers for the Seasonal Agricultural Employment (Farm Work) Programmes.
  • Citing improvements in processing time, Dr. Ferguson noted that “with each passing period, you are seeing greater productivity, greater efficiency.”
  • Dr. Ferguson told the workers that they have a responsibility to protect the integrity of this programme, which he pointed out, has been of tremendous benefit for many Jamaicans, particularly persons in rural areas.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he is pleased with operations at the Overseas Employment Programme, which deals with the processing of workers for the Seasonal Agricultural Employment (Farm Work) Programmes.

Citing improvements in processing time, Dr. Ferguson noted that “with each passing period, you are seeing greater productivity, greater efficiency.”

The newly appointed Labour Minister was on a tour of the facility located at East Street, downtown Kingston today (December 16), to familiarise himself with portfolio matters.

Dr. Ferguson told the workers that they have a responsibility to protect the integrity of this programme, which he pointed out, has been of tremendous benefit for many Jamaicans, particularly persons in rural areas.

He said that through the programme, many persons have been able to send their children to high school, university, even medical school, and have also been able to comfortably support their families.

The Minister noted that the programme is also critical to providing employment, with 13,000 to 14,000 persons taking up jobs overseas annually. He further cited benefits to the economy from remittances, pointing to inflows of CAN$16,000 from the Canadian programme last year.

Turning to other matters, Dr. Ferguson said he will be moving to “re-image” the Ministry, so that it is not seen as merely “a farm workers Ministry.”

“We have to now look at the labour side, look at the Ministry as being a critical part of the growth agenda, a 2030 development agenda; and a critical part of agreements locally, regionally and internationally,” he said.

He said the Ministry must also be seen as crucial to the social protection of the poor and most vulnerable.

In her remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Colette Roberts-Risden, praised the “committed” staff at the centre. She noted that they continuously go beyond the call of duty, many of them working odd hours to enable the smooth, timely processing of clients.

The Minister, who was accompanied by senior Ministry officials, also toured the Kingston and St. Andrew Public Assistance Department at Harbour Street.

That department is responsible for the administration of non-contributory social assistance such as Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) grants, emergency/disaster relief, social intervention assistance and compassionate grants.

The Labour Ministry operates three programmes to take advantage of employment opportunities in Canada and the United States. These are: the Canadian Farm Work Programme; the US Farm Work Programme; and the Hotel Work Programme.

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