Saint Lucians who travel to Canada to participate in that country’s seasonal farm workers programme but then abscond, are a source of concern to the Ministry of Labour here.
“They can jeopardise our participation,” Labour Minister, Stephenson King said during an interview aired on Radio Caribbean International (RCI).
King disclosed that it was for that reason that his ministry is attempting to ‘tighten up’ the processing of recruiting Saint Lucians who take part in the farm workers programme.
The minister explained that last year this country accessed a new Canadian farm which requested 12 Saint Lucian workers.
He said Saint Lucia supplied the workers, but two of them went missing.
However King said this has not affected Saint Lucia’s ability to take part in the farm workers programme.
“In fact when I visited Canada in September, we met with the farmer – the employer and they were quite happy with the remainder of the workers,” the Labour Minister told RCI.
“You see persons more or less going ‘AWOL’ as we call it, is a common thing in the Canadian programme. It is a common thing in foreign worker programmes where persons use the opportunity to get into a system they believe is more lucrative or more encouraging to them,” King stated.
The seasonal agriculture workers programme in Canada started in 1966 with Jamaican nationals and ten years later, spread to other Caribbean Islands.
According to reports, the Caribbean supplies Canada with some 10,000 farm workers for periods of 3 or 8 months and now, two years.
Saint Lucia supplies some 300 workers.