JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister Kellier noted that the programme has had a significant impact on the development of the economies in the Caribbean.
  • More than 60 delegates are attending the six-day review meeting, which concludes on December 7.
  • The meeting will also provide the opportunity for delegates to review the operations of the programme.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has given the commitment of Jamaica and the wider region, to strengthening the collaboration with authorities in Canada, to ensure the continuation of the seasonal Canada/Caribbean Agricultural Workers Programme.

He was addressing the opening of the annual review meeting of the programme, which got underway on Monday, December 2, at the Riu Hotel and Resorts in Montego Bay.

Minister Kellier noted that the programme, which has been in place for close to 50 years, has had a significant impact on the development of the economies in the Caribbean, particularly in terms of employment.

“We would not have achieved this without the support, cooperation and the guidance of the Canadian authorities,” he stated.

“At a time when there is so much uncertainty around us, and so many changes taking place on a daily basis, it gives us some degree of comfort knowing that we can count on the stability of the programme and its many benefits to our workers and by extension, to our economies,” he added.

More than 60 delegates, including Canadian government officials and employers, Ministers of Labour from Caribbean states, and liaison officers, are attending the six-day review meeting, which concludes on December 7.

It is geared at discussing a number of issues, including the hiring and processing of workers within the programme, their housing and living conditions, safety and health concerns, and workers rights.

The meeting will also provide the opportunity for delegates to review the operations of the programme, the functioning of existing employment agreements, as well as to improve responsiveness among stakeholders.

Minister Kellier said that the annual review gives all stakeholders a chance to address issues, which may be having a negative impact on the operation of the programme.

High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica, His Excellency Robert Ready, who brought greetings at the opening ceremony, also underscored the value of the programme to both the Canadian and Caribbean economies.

He noted that the agricultural industry in Canada would be challenged to bring products to market, without the benefit of the seasonal workers from the region.

The Canada/Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme started some 50 years ago with some 264 workers from the Caribbean and has grown to more than 30,000 workers this year.