Saint Lucians hired as seasonal farm workers in Canada are going absent without leave (AWOL), raising concern that their actions could affect the programme.
“We still have a lot of work to do particularly in relation to the bahaviour of our Saint Lucian men,” says Labour Minister, Stephenson King.
King told reporters Tuesday that local workers going AWOL did not represent a good sign for this country.
“it really taints us as a country when persons commit to participating in a programme and then go AWOL,” he explained.
“It reflects on the country and in some instances when this happens, employers resort to other countries – so we have to work on that in terms of persons trying to adhere to the protocols,” the Minister stated.
He revealed that during the years 2016 to 2018, there were no reports of Saint Lucians absconding.
However King said in the last two years this has been happening.
“It probably means we will have to be a lot more vigilant in selecting persons we need,” he observed.
He told reporters that the farm workers programme is being reviewed this week and the possibility of women being hired is on the table.
“Yesterday at the review meeting we were discussing with the Canadians some greater opportunities in terms of the potential for workers to be able to apply for residency after a number of years,” King recalled.
He said this year, Saint Lucians have been able to enter farms on Prince Edward Islands and British Columbia.
At the local level, the Labour Minister said a number of measures have been put in place to allow the workers who return to Saint Lucia after a period of time to be able to bring in their vehicles, their equipment and other supplies duty free.
“So it’s a programme where there are opportunities, but we need people who are well behaved,” King asserted.
Headline stock photo courtesy Lambros Lyrakis