For the past 48 years, several Barbadians have received the opportunity to work abroad through the National Employment Bureau???s (NEB) Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme.
Also known as the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, this initiative is not to be taken lightly, as adequate participation is not only beneficial to the development of Barbados, but it also provides several opportunities for Barbadians.
While speaking at the Ministry of Labour???s Local Annual Review Meeting of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme recently at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer, outlined the contribution which the Canadian Farm Labour Programme makes to Barbados??? economy.
She revealed: ???Over Bds$25 million have been remitted in the form of Home Savings for our workers since 1967 when the programme started. Since then, over $4 million have been remitted to the National Insurance Scheme to provide a social safety net for you, [the workers].
“I have further noted, for this economic year so far, the total remittances received by the Home Savings section of the Ministry are approximately $1 million and this contribution has not gone unrecognised.?????Each year, persons employed under the programme have had to brave many challenges, which include difficult weather conditions and unexpected living conditions.
However, the Labour Minister reassured them that Barbados was always represented at the annual review meeting of the Canada/Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Programme, ???so wages, allowances, housing, laundry or any of the concerns of the Barbadian workers participating in the programme can be raised to the highest levels???.
According to Senator Byer, despite these challenges, Barbadians for the most part have maintained an outstanding reputation with their employers. She disclosed that in some instances, employers have travelled to Barbados and visited with some of their workers to see firsthand, the impact of the programme and how it benefits the workers.
???I want to say that we are especially grateful to the Barbadian workers for the sustainability of this programme. Without you, the workers, we would not have been able to maintain this programme for 48 years??? There are many persons who were able to go to school, to build homes and to acquire wealth because of this particular programme, and so it has meant a lot to the development of Barbados,??? she declared.
With other countries such as Mexico and Jamaica constantly competing for a larger share in the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, Liaison Officer at the NEB, James Inniss, and his team were able to contract a new employer from the province of Alberta.
During the delivery of his report, Mr Inniss offered congratulations to these workers who performed exceptionally well, while advising others about the importance of giving of their best.
???Now it???s not easy to get employers from other provinces to come onboard because there is a lot of competition from other countries, so it is up to the workers to play their role. The workers from Central Alberta performed so well that the employer was really impressed. Therefore, out of the 14 workers, 12 of them are being requested to return and another 14 persons will also find employment there as well,??? he disclosed.
In 1967, Barbados was one of the first Caribbean countries to participate in the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, second only to Jamaica which signed up in 1966.??For more information about the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, persons may contact the offices of the National Employment Bureau at 310-1535 or visit the website??www.labour.gov.bb