8,000 farm workers head to Canada

FarmersKINGSTON, Jamaica – More than 8,000 Jamaicans are to benefit from employment opportunities in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) this year.
The farm workers, 310 of whom left last week as the first batch, will be engaged in various agricultural industries, including greenhouse crop production, food processing, vegetable and plant nurseries as well as other agricultural activities.
Director of the Overseas Employment Service Delroy Palmer said the crop and the duration of the crop will determine how long they stay. “So, we have workers staying six weeks to three months, up to eight months,” he explained.
The workers will be sent weekly, ending in September. The season officially ends on Dec. 15.
They will work in Leamington, Simcoe, Owen Sound, West Lorne, Goderich, Stratford and Woodstock, in Ontario.
Jamaican Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr. Fenton Ferguson said the program is an important contributor to the local economy, noting that preliminary figures for the 2015 period show earnings in remittance from the program of more than J$1.7 billion, an increase of 20% over the Cdn$16 million earned in 2014.
The program is in its 50th year and continues to be an important contributor to the economic development as well as a job generator for hundreds of Jamaicans, with approximately 8,090 Jamaicans benefitting from employment opportunities in Canada last year.