Jamaica-Canada employment programme pumps millions into local economy
Remittance inflows from the Jamaica-Canada employment programme contributed Cdn$15.5 million (approximately JA$1.7 billion) to the Jamaican economy during 2014.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, who noted that the programme, which is a vital source of foreign exchange remittances, “continues to be a beacon of hope and opportunity for thousands of Jamaicans.”
The minister was speaking at a send-off ceremony for the first batch of farm workers for 2015 under the ministry’s overseas employment programme in Kingston on Monday.
Kellier further noted that, during 2014, approximately 7,952 Jamaicans benefitted from employment opportunities in Canada.
“The farm work component accounted for 90 percent (7,156) of this number, while the others travelled under the low skill and skilled worker programmes,” he said.
A total of 340 workers, selected under the Canadian seasonal agricultural workers programme, were due to depart the island on Monday to take up employment opportunities on various farms in Ontario, Canada.
This batch of all males, most of whom will do eight-month stints, will be employed in greenhouse crop production, food processing, tobacco plants as well as nurseries which are involved in the cultivation of various vegetables. They will also be engaged in packaging tobacco and fruits for shipment.
The minister noted that 20 percent of the workers are new employees, while the remaining 80 percent are ‘returnees’ or requested workers, noting that “this is a testament to the hard and dedicated work provided by Jamaican workers abroad.”
He implored the new cohort to continue being professional while on the job, so that the programme can be expanded to provide opportunities for more unemployed Jamaicans.
“I am urging you too, to observe regulations as much as possible for your safety and health. I advise you all not to breach rules (such as absence without leave), which will disqualify you and other Jamaicans in the future,” he said.
The minister reminded the workers that the Overseas Employment Family Services Unit will continue to focus on the welfare of their families through a range of social interventions, including household visits, referrals for assistance, care for the sick and injured, care of children and self-empowerment programmes.