Canada ready to welcome ‘other categories’ of Jamaican workers

Canada’s Minister of
Immigration, Refugees and
Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen and Professor
Verene Shepherd

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen on a three day visit to Jamaica said that Canada is seeking to engage more Jamaicans to work in non-traditional areas, which will add to the current seasonal agricultural workers arrangement [farm work programme] that the island shares with Canada.

The world power is keen on welcoming workers in fields such as research, education and home care, according to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen.

Hussen, however, made it clear, that despite the need for labour in those areas, Canada isn’t looking to perpetuate Jamaica’s brain drain, but rather, seeks to arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement for both countries. We want it to be a win-win,” Hussen said.

Therefore, both countries would have to look at fields that have a surplus of skilled workers in Jamaica, and sectors in Canada that require additional workers with certain requisite skills and expertise.

Hussen was speaking at a forum on immigration and refugees issues at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in Mona recently. The discussion was organised by the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica and The UWI.

He further revealed that persons could work under the programme without a permit.

He said: “It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, for example, if there is a research expert in Jamaica, who is researching on robotics, for example, we have the global skill strategy, which will enable that researcher to come to Canada and work by themselves or collaborate in our research ecosystem for up 120 days without a work permit.”

“That researcher may not have an ecosystem in Jamaica to build up their skills set to the next level and then coming back to Jamaica, is a benefit for Jamaica and Canada,” Hussen said.

Jamaica already has an advantage because of the Seasonal Agriculture Workers’ Programme (SAWP) also called farm work programme in Canada.

“How can we expand that to other categories? Other types of workers and industries come into the mix. How can we do that?

“I think in the Canadian and Jamaican example it is a no brainer because Jamaica has a similar system to Canada. [Jamaica is an] English-speaking country, [with a] young dynamic population. We should be doing this way more. It should not just be the seasonal agricultural worker programme”.