Talks ongoing to include Jamaicans with disabilities on Canadian farm work programme
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has been in discussions with several overseas farm work programme employers in Canada, with the aim to recruit Jamaicans with disabilities, says Portfolio Minister Pearnel Charles Jr.
“We have already started to have positive conversations with some of the employers in Canada, some of whom are open to the prospect of inviting and welcoming persons with disabilities who still have the capability and the right attitude for them to get an opportunity to engage in a programme like the farm work programme,” he said.
“So, we are taking those steps, having those discussions and, hopefully, we can carve out a space for persons with disabilities in these programmes going forward,” the minister added.
Charles Jr recently visited Canada to engage with officials and key stakeholders regarding the farm work programme.
He also visited several farms, which provided invaluable opportunities for engaging in intensive discussions with the farmworkers on the ground.
The minister also used the opportunity to review various notable locations, pinpointed in prior reports, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the programme’s status.
Through these direct interactions, he sought to gather crucial feedback that will significantly inform future strategic directions to augment and diversify the programme.
Charles Jr said following visits to farms in Canada and the United States, the ministry is now advancing “what we would say are enhancements in the programme, particularly in the selection [and] in the orientation of the workers, so that you can identify persons who, not just have the physical skill, but have the right mental attitude and mindset to take on the work”.
“Every farm worker is an ambassador of this country, and how they perform is going to impact the opportunities for anybody else to come. So, we are working with the employers, we are working with the Canadian/USA partners, and with our local partners, to make sure that we have the strongest, most robust programme and that we, most importantly, ensure that the working standard [and] the living conditions for our workers, [are] where [they] should be,” he said.