|Barbados’ Consul General to Toronto, Canada, Dr. Leroy McClean (at left), enjoys a skit performed by comedienne Jennifer Walker, at the review meeting. (A. Miller/BGIS)??|
Barbadians employed on the Canadian Farm Labour Programme sent back home just over one million Barbados dollars last year.
This disclosure was made by Barbados’ Consul General to Toronto, Canada, Dr. Leroy McClean, at the Local Annual Review Meeting of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, held today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.??
Addressing farm workers, labour officials and the media at the meeting, he revealed that in 2011, some BDS$1 067,228.00 was remitted to the Ministry of Labour.
He explained that remittances fell under the Home Savings Component of that programme, where 25 per cent of the farm labourers’ salary was deducted.?? Twenty per cent of that deduction is sent home as savings for the workers, while the remaining five per cent goes to the liaison office in Canada for incidentals and the management of the programme.
Lauding this achievement, the Consul General pointed out, that "the programme not only continues to bring in foreign exchange, but [it also] provides a cache of savings for you to draw from, on your return home, to assist you until you return to local employment or travel overseas again on contract."
Emphasising that the Barbados Government was committed "to ensuring the rejuvenation and prosperity of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, Dr. McClean added: "If with our small numbers we are still able to have over a million dollars in remittances, we can very well see what we could achieve if we double or triple the number of workers on the programme."
Noting that despite the modest number of employees placed in seasonal work in 2011, he stressed that "…the National Employment Bureau, has still been able to lay some building blocks in the bastion which Government is erecting to actively combat the waves of unemployment set in motion by global economic tides."
Indicating that in the mid-1970’s and late 1980’s the programme had over one thousand Barbadians participating, he lamented the fact that the number of persons travelling to Canada under the programme in 2011 had fallen to 169.
Noting that several factors contributed to this decline, he observed that "in recent times our efforts to gain opportunities for our unemployed [in Canada] have been thwarted.
"During this critical period, we have [seen] the closure, sale or downsizing of many of the farms which recruited Barbadian workers, with the most recent occurrence being Lassonde Juices, which hired over 20 Barbadian workers annually before the recession.?? After reducing its quota to ten workers in 2011, this processing plant was forced to close its doors at the end of the season last year," Dr. McClean outlined.
Assuring those in attendance that assiduous work was being done to achieve and maintain the success of the overseas programmes at the NEB, he revealed that a strategic plan was being prepared to realise this goal.
"We must be prepared to enhance all efforts to increase employment options abroad, in order to ensure the kind of successes Barbados boasted of in the past, or to even surpass those achievements," he said.??