An official of the Mississauga-based Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service s (FARMS) which co-ordinates the processing of requests from farmers for foreign seasonal agricultural workers, attributes the lower total recruitment figures in Ontario last year mainly to unfavourable weather conditions.
From Jamaica, the largest supplier of Caribbean migrant farm workers to Ontario , 6,812 were hired this year , as compared with 6,235 last year,
Barbados supplied 143 workers this year as compared with138 last year and from Trinidad and Tobago 768 workers were hired this year – an increase of 88 over last year.
However, the Eastern Caribbean ( Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) recorded a drop in the total number of workers hired this year – 529 as compared with 591 last year.
The Canada-Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program was launched in 1966 with the recruitment of several hundred workers from Jamaica. It was later expanded to include workers from other Commonwealth Caribbean countries.
Worker on the program are hired for several months each year and on completion of their contracts , they are required to leave Canada.
Last summer, Justicia for Migrant Worker, an activist group, petitioned the federal government for permanent residenct status for the workers.