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News - A Look at The Benefits of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme
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Labour News.


A Look at The Benefits of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme

Done by: Ms Shamcoe Pilé (BGIS)

 

Barbadians going to Canada for the upcoming year’s Farm Labour Programme are set to reap significant benefits.

 

According to Acting Senior Labour Officer, Valerie Quintyne of the National Employment Bureau (NEB), along with gaining financially, there were social, educational and cultural benefits persons taking part in the programme could receive.

 

She outlined that workers were paid above the Canadian minimum wage and explained that contracts ranged from six weeks to eight months in length, and persons could work with either fruits, vegetables or ginseng; work in a green house or food processing plant.

 

Moreover, she pointed out that there was a home saving component of the Farm Labour Programme, where 25 per cent of the worker’s salary was deducted.  Five per cent of that amount would be sent to the liaison office in Canada for incidentals and the management of the programme, while the remaining 20 per cent would be sent home as savings for the workers, she stated.

 

Ms. Quintyne said that after the mandatory deductions were made, workers were able to retrieve their earnings when they returned home.  She described this home saving component as “a God send” especially for those persons who found it difficult to secure employment when they returned to the island. 

 

“This work to Canada is seasonal.  When persons return, sometimes they have difficulty getting back into the work industry in Barbados.  [For] some of them, their jobs would not have been held open, or they would not have had the permanent jobs to begin with.   We [NEB] target a lot of unemployed persons, [so] the Home Savings can take them over until they get back on their feet in Barbados,” she noted.

 

In addition, Ms. Quintyne remarked that participants also developed new skills along with to enhancing the skills they already possessed.   For example, she added that the techniques used by Canadian farmers differed from those in Barbados, and workers have benefited from that transfer of knowledge. 

 

Ms. Quintyne went on to explain that Barbados signed onto the programme in 1967 as one of the supply countries.  She added that Jamaica, Mexico and several Eastern Caribbean islands also sent a steady supply of workers to partake in the Canadian Farm Labour Programme annually.

 

Meanwhile, outlining other advantages of the scheme, Clerical Officer for the Farm Labour Programme, Dave Best, said over the years, he had seen men improve their livelihoods and their families by participating in the Programme. 

Mr. Best remarked, “I know of men who have bought land, built houses and started small businesses.  One guy, from two years ago, came back and bought a van to transport his vegetables.  Also, there are guys who bought vans to sell bread.  Many of the men send back barrels and money to their families.”

 

He pointed out that many workers benefited from a duty free waiver at the end of their contract and under this arrangement, they could send home electronics, tools, appliances, food and clothing.    Workers are also given a Canadian Pension.

 

“Once you go on the Farm Labour Programme and you finish your contract and come back to Barbados, there is a waiver [workers can get] from the NEB to take to the Port to get $500 duty free off your stuff,” Mr. Best said.

 

The Senior Labour Official noted that initially the programme attracted largely farm workers.  However with the decline of agriculture in Barbados, the NEB was now attracting labourers and construction workers.

 

Ms. Quintyne lauded the Barbadian workers and said, “I can proudly say that the Canadian Farm Labour Programme has had an association with Barbados as a supply country since 1967, and the fact that it has gone on that long is testimony to the fact that the Barbadian workers must be doing something right.  Employers like the Barbadian work ethic and as a result, many Barbadians have been placed in supervisory and managerial positions on the farms.”

 

Over the past 44 years, Barbados has sent both males and females to work in the Canadian Farm Labour Programme.  While the country has been known to send 1000 workers annually, this figure has declined to 169 this year.  According to the NEB, this is largely as a result of the economic recession, closure of some farms in Canada as well as a lack of interest in agriculture.  (SP/BGIS)


Published: Thursday, 1st December, 2011





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3rd Floor West, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados | Tel: (246) 535-1400 | Fax: (246) 535-1573 | E-Mail: mol@labour.gov.bb