More than 8,000 Jamaicans are to benefit from employment opportunities in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP), this year.
The farm workers, 310 of whom will leave on January 6 as the first batch, will be engaged in various agricultural industries, including greenhouse crop production, food processing, vegetable and plant nurseries as well as other agricultural activities.
Director of the Overseas Employment Service, Delroy Palmer, told JIS News that the crop and the duration of the crop will determine how long they stay. “So, we have workers staying six weeks to three months, up to eight months,” he explained.
The workers will be sent weekly, ending in September. The season officially ends on December 15.
A ceremony for the dispatch of the farm workers to Canada was held today (January 5), at the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Services Centre, on East Street, downtown Kingston
They will be working in Leamington, Simcoe, Owen Sound, West Lorne, Goderich, Stratford and Woodstock, in the province of Ontario.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who spoke at the ceremony, said the programme is an important contributor to the local economy, noting that preliminary figures for the 2015 period show earnings in remittance from the programme of over Cdn$20 million (J$1.7 billion), an increase of 20 per cent over the Cdn$16 million earned in 2014.
“This overseas programme must be seen as a critical part of the growth agenda for our country. It must be seen as part of the economic growth of the country,” the Minister emphasised.
The programme, which is in its 50th year, continues to be an important contributor to the economic development as well as a job generator for hundreds of Jamaicans, with approximately 8,090 Jamaicans benefitting from employment opportunities in Canada last year.
The farm work component accounted for 97 per cent of this number, while other persons travelled under the Low Skill and Skilled Workers programmes.