137 Vincentian farm workers off to Canada
One hundred and thirty-seven Vincentians will arrive in Canada today to take part in the Canadian farm workers program.
The workers, together with others from around the Eastern Caribbean will be employed on food producing farms as well as in the medicinal cannabis industry. This is the first batch to leave since the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, speaking on We FM on Sunday said with the changes brought about by Covid-19, the initiative has seen a few measures put in place to have the program functional at this time.
Workers now have insurance that will come into play if they are affected by Covid-19, and on arrival in Canada they will be quarantined for 14 days. During this quarantine period the workers will be paid.
Caesar said the Eastern Caribbean countries have a well-established relationship with Canada and the farm workers program and as a result, several protocols have been agreed to, in an effort to protect workers who send a large percentage of remittances to this country.
“We are ensuring that everything is being done right,” Caesar stated while adding that workers will be tested for Covid-19 before they leave for Canada, so they can be aware of their status and their employer would be aware that when they left here, they were negative for the coronavirus.
A Sunwing chartered flight from the Argyle International Airport (AIA) will journey to St Lucia and other OECS countries to pick up workers.
The agriculture minister said the 137 Vincentians have received packages which include face masks, a requirement for the flight.
He said there is a significant demand for farm workers from the OECS because Canada does not want to hire workers from certain countries because of the prevalence of Covid-19.
“So, this is a good opportunity for Vincentians,” Caesar said while noting that the farm workers are on a six-month contract while the cannabis farm workers have contracts between one and two years.
He said the OECS secretariat would be keeping a close eye on the workers because while in quarantine, the physical distancing protocol must be followed and the “bunk style” quarters will not work.
Caesar added also that workers from the OECS would be housed separately from other workers.