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Jamaican Farmers Receive 200,000 Work Permits to Work on Canadian Farms

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Portia Simpson Miller, prime minister of Jamaica

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Portia Simpson Miller, prime minister of Jamaica

The government has lauded Canada for its continued partnership with Jamaica, which to date has resulted in the issuance of 200,000 work permits to Jamaicans to work on Canadian farms.

The commendation was conveyed by Labour Minister Derrick Kellier yesterday at the ceremonial handover of a symbolic Canadian passport to the ministry’s permanent secretary, Collette Roberts-Risden, in celebration of the issuance of the 200,000th permit under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP).

“The CSAWP is very dear to her heart given her years of outstanding service…,” Kellier said of Roberts-Risden.

“The Government and people of Jamaica are extremely grateful for your service to the country, for we know it has not been an easy task,” added the minister.

Furthermore, Kellier said “no praise is too great” for the program, which has — for the past 49 years — contributed considerably to Jamaica’s development.

According the minister, the program has grown tremendously since 1966 when it started with 264 permits for workers to do fruit picking, vegetable harvesting and horticulture. He said that it has now evolved to include cherry and strawberry harvesting, bee and flower production, tobacco harvesting, and ginseng harvesting.

“Last year alone some 7,700 Jamaicans farm workers traveled to Canada, but this initiative did not take into account the visas and work permits issued for those Jamaican men and women participating in the Canadian Low Skill and Skilled Workers Programs, indicating that the prospect for the 2016 season are indeed encouraging,” Kellier said.

He said the program represents a vital source of employment for rural Jamaicans who, through this avenue, have been able to provide critical support for their families.

On the other hand, he said Canada has also benefited from the program through the provision of needed agricultural skills.

Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Robert Ready hailed the program as one of the most important aspects of both countries’ bilateral relationship.


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