CHIEF Technical Director in the Labour and Social Security Ministry Errol Miller says the entity will be looking into allegations of Jamaican migrant workers harassing women in the town of Leamington in Ontario, Canada, made in a media report on Monday.
While it also fingers seasonal workers from other countries, the National Post report makes specific mention of Jamaican workers.
When contacted yesterday, Miller told the Jamaica Observer that he was unaware of the claims.
"The report you indicated is a report I am hearing for the first time and it is a report that we would have to investigate first of all, to ensure the authenticity and, also, to see what we could put in place to obviate those claims," he told the Observer.
"They (claims) are ones of concern and it is something that we will definitely look into," he added, noting that the investigations would involve speaking to the ministry's own liaison officers in Canada.
"That's the first place we would have to start to ensure that the claims are, in fact, true," Miller said.
The Observer was told that Labour Minister Derrick Kellier as well as Permanent Secretary Alvin McIntosh were off the island.
According to the article, Jamaicans and other nationals from the eastern Caribbean make up 20 per cent of five to six thousand migrant workers who arrive in Leamington to help the area live up to its reputation as the "tomato and greenhouse capital of Canada".
It said the lion's share of the workers come from Mexico, while there are also Filipino, Mexican Mennonite, and nationals from various parts of Asia in the mix.
"And every year, according to Leamington Mayor John Paterson, local women in the rural lakeside town of about 28,000 have complained of sexual harassment on the part of the seasonal labourers -- unwelcome sexual invitations, persistent queries about relationship status, comments about physical appearance. Some women even reported workers grabbing their genitals and making lewd gestures at them," the National Post reported.
The report said the harassment has led women to avoid downtown and certain stores, particularly on weekends, "when the workers are more likely to be cashing their cheques, doing laundry and shopping for groceries".
According to the report, there were more complaints than usual this year, which led Paterson "to ask the police services board in late August how to address sexual comments and aggressive tendencies" of some migrant workers employed in Leamington.
Paterson is reported as saying that he had worked quietly with the previous Jamaican liaison officer for temporary foreign workers to address the issue, "but nothing changed".
Meanwhile, the report stated that Vernon Melhado, deputy chief liaison officer with the Jamaican liaison office in Leamington, did not return calls to the National Post, "but told the Windsor Star his office had not received one complaint about sexually aggressive behaviour".
Meanwhile, it said Jamaica's chief liaison officer for Foreign Agricultural Management Services, Larkland W Stone, did not offer a comment on the matter.