77 more set for Canadian Farm Workers programme
In 2019, Vincentians working with the Canadian migrant farm workers’ programme sent home EC$12.9 million in remittances, and this Thursday, 77 more workers will travel to Canada to join the 248 already there.
The workers scheduled to leave on Thursday include eight women, and make up the fourth batch from St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to travel to Canada this year under the programme. They will bring the total to number to 325, which still falls short of the 458 workers that have been requested by Canadian farmers this year.
In an interview yesterday, minister of agriculture Saboto Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT that last year, 379 workers were requested from SVG, but more have been requested this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trinidadians who usually participate in the programme have been unable to travel because their borders are closed and SVG has been asked to provide workers to take their place. Also, the minister said, the programme has not been taking farmers from regions that have high levels of coronavirus infection, creating more opportunities for Vincentians.
Caesar said special measures have been put in place to have the program functional in this time of COVID-19. 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.
The Vincentians will be employed on food producing farms on six-month contracts, while others, who will work in the medicinal cannabis industry will have contracts between one and two years.
A progress report from the Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service in Canada said in 2019, remittances from Vincentians on the Canadian farm workers’ programme amounted to EC$12.9 million, the most for any country in the Eastern Caribbean. Last year, St Lucians sent home EC$7.7 million, Grenadians – $5.8 million, Dominicans – $4.4 million, Kittitians – $800,000 and Antiguans and Montserratians $68,000 each.