Donovan Lucas, one of the 18 Barbadian workers previously employed with JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa on Ontario, Canada. He is among those set to return to the island by May 31. (GP)

Management of the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa in Ontario is satisfied with the work of 18 Barbadians who have been there since last year, and while they are set to return by month-end, some may actually gain an extension.

This was disclosed by head of the Barbados Liaison Office in Canada, Consul Liaison Service Officer, Ken Mason, and confirmed by one of the Barbadian workers, Donovan Lucas, who stressed that he and his colleagues, whose contracts end May 31, could only sing the praises of the resort and the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations.

Mr. Mason had earlier noted that the Human Resource Department of JW Marriott had conveyed positive sentiments on the Barbadian contingent, and indicated that they were prepared to ask for an extension for four skilled workers, namely the cooks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lucas, speaking to the Barbados Government Information Service from Canada, stated that none among the group sent by the Ministry could speak ill about the year-long opportunity.  

Noting that he first wanted to congratulate the liaison office for always being cooperative and accommodating, he said both Mr. Mason and his deputy, Shirley Wall-Mayers, should be commended for the hotel’s approval of the 18.

The St. Philip resident, who worked as a kitchen steward at the resort, noted that any one saying they had been disadvantaged or appeared disgruntled, needed to apologize to the resort, the Ministry and the Liaison Office.

“We are not suffering; we are not struggling. So far, tomorrow would be seven weeks that I was unemployed or temporarily laid off, and so far I have gotten a reasonable amount of money from the Canadian Government and I know I signed up for the EI (Employment Insurance) on Friday, May 1, and I knew that by May 5, money would go into my account. So, we are okay; we are good,” stressed the Barbadian worker

Some of the Barbadian workers at JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa, Ontario pose with Minister of Labour, Colin Jordan (back row, centre) when he visited last year. Also pictured are: Director of the Barbados Employment and Career Counselling Service, Yvette Walcott-Dennis (front row, left); Consul General in Canada, Sonia Marville-Carter (front row, second left); Assistant Liaison Officer, Barbados Liaison Service in Canada, Shirley Wall-Mayers (third right); former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Alison Forte (second right). (GP)

He added that they were laid off since March 17, but were now living rent-free with no bills to pay, since the utilities are included in the rent and JW Marriott had waived the rent on their behalf.  

While Mr. Lucas pointed out that the resort had indicated that skilled workers, such as the four Barbadian cooks, were liable to stay on post COVID-19, he said there was still a chance that others in the group could be retained, if the unemployment level in Canada allowed for this retention.  

“So far, they have to go back to the Canadian Government and address it because they cannot get workers into Muskoka to work.  That is how we come in now, so they are not done with us as such.

“They are still looking out for us. They are still trying to keep us. If they are successful, because there is a meeting this week, maybe all of us who want to stay will stay in Canada,” he disclosed.

Expressing the hope that he would be among that group, Mr. Lucas lauded the resort for giving them options to consider at a meeting held on Friday, April 22, via Zoom. “They provided us with four options: Option 1 – who wants an extension; Option 2 – who wants to have permanent residency; Option 3 – who wants to go home after their contract is finished; and Option 4 – who wants to go home before their contract is finished.

“They don’t want to lose us because they would have to go back to training other people, but we know the job already because we come highly recommended. And, they can’t find workers in Muskoka. So, they don’t want to lose our guys.  That’s what the general manager said. So, if they lose us now they would have to go back to the drawing board and try to train school leavers for job attachments, but they want adults, not kids,” Mr. Lucas said, adding that from the time the Barbadians arrived at the resort, they were acclaimed the ‘A-Team’.

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