|From left to right: Minister of Education and Human Resource Development and Labour, St. Lucia, Dr. Robert Lewis; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Jamaica, Derrick Kellier; President of the Foreign Agricultural Management Services, Canada,??Ken Forth; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Barbados, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo; Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Trinidad and Tobago, Errol McLeod; Minister of Labour, Montserrat, Charles Kirnon; and President of the Canadian Horticulture Council, Murray Porteous. (C. Pitt/BGIS)|
The Government of Barbados will remain committed to the Canada/Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Programme (CCSAWP), because it recognises that Barbadians and Caribbean nationals have benefitted tremendously from employment opportunities under this initiative.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, gave this assurance today during her keynote address at the opening ceremony of the CCSAWP at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa.??
Dr. Byer Suckoo said: "It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the immeasurable contribution of the programme to the individual empowerment of thousands of Barbadian and Caribbean nationals, and to the building and growth of our nations in this region."
She pointed out that the CCSAWP, commonly referred to as the Farm Labour Programme in Barbados, "helped to sustain our families and communities, and ultimately our foreign exchange reserves over the years".
The Labour Minister said that although the number of workers on the Barbadian leg of the programme had decreased within the last two decades, Barbados still benefitted from remittances related to the initiative.
Stating that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Programme was an investment, she stressed that the annual review meeting was taken very seriously by herself and her regional counterparts.
"[This is] an investment in our people and we commit to doing what is necessary to ensure that our Canadian partners are comfortable with the experience and with the product.?? That is why we are here from across the region, because we take this review seriously, as our colleague Ministers of International Business take the Global Forum Peer Review," Dr. Byer Suckoo reasoned.
Outlining that the programme had improved the quality of life for numerous families, she stated: "The testimonies are many, of workers past and present who have been able to purchase land, construct homes and educate their children through the gains of this programme."
Further noting that the CCSAWP was introduced to the region when it was emerging from "a socially depressed state and contemplating independence", the Labour Minister said it provided a much needed alternative of empowerment and development of the region’s people.
"We are in debt to the Canadian Government for its continued commitment to this programme, and its commitment to our people and to our development," she emphasised.
Also in attendance at the event were Ministers of Labour from Jamaica, St. Lucia, Montserrat, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Canadian government officials responsible for the CCSAWP, employers attached to the programme and workers.??