By Gerald V. Paul
Jamaica’s Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson , currently on a North American tour, met on Monday with farm workers in Mt. Pleasant, Ontario whose living quarters were gutted in a fire on July 28 last.
Thirty-three workers from Jamaica assigned to Chary Produce, a fruit and vegetable operation, lost all their belongings, including their passports , in the blaze.They have since returned to work.
Minister Robinson who was accompanied on her trip to the farm by Lloyd Wilks, Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto, did not speak with the media after she met the farm workers
However, Wilks told the Caribbean Camera that the Jamaican government is continuing to deal with the situation with compassion.
He said that “we are concerned about the welfare of our farm workers and we are appreciative of all the help, goods and money, gleaned from fellow Jamaicans, and friends of Jamaica.
Wilks said there was no public announcement made by the Minister on the question of issuing new passports to the men who lost their travel documents in the fire.
“The waiver of the $173 passport fees for the 33 Jamaican farm workers is also under consideration. This is in the works. There was never any doubt that we would act otherwise. There is a process and these passports will be issued at the time of request when the farm workers need to travel. We have a mechanism put in place.”
Wilks said “There is a misconception out there that some of the farm workers are interested in returning home. “None of these farm workers said , ‘I want to go home.’”.
Commenting on Minister Robinson’s visit, John Chary, co-owner of Chary Produce, said it was positive.
” She took the time to embrace some farm workers,” he added.