By Judith A. Hunter
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The ministry of labour and social security is assuring Jamaican farm workers participating in the Canadian Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TFWP) that there is a cadre of liaison officers assigned to safeguard their welfare and ensure the preservation of the engagement’s integrity.
This is in response to United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur, Tomoya Obokata’s report, which criticises aspects of the programme.
A ministry statement indicated that where there are instances of unfavourable circumstances in living and working conditions, workers are encouraged to use the established channels to file reports.
Since the start of 2023, the ministry has dispatched 8,519 workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP) and 578 under the Low-Skill Stream.
Both engagements are a part of the larger TFWP.
Under the TFWP, employers can hire temporary foreign workers for a maximum 24 months, unlike the SAWP which only spans eight.
The ministry disclosed that in preparing successful candidates for travel, farm workers under the Low Skill Stream and SAWP programme are given intensive orientation regarding their employment.
All workers are required to participate in the orientation prior to departing.
They are provided with information and guidance pertaining to the new working environments, housing, rights and responsibilities as migrant workers, healthcare, health and safety in the workplace, how to contact the liaison services, and channels to lodge complaints.
The Canadian authorities have also established tip lines where workers can make contact anonymously and report concerns or abusive employers.
The Overseas Employment Programme has been a valued contributor to both Jamaican and Canadian economies over the years. It has provided financing for many Jamaican families to elevate their standard of living.
This programme has provided the funds needed to send children to school and assist families with various expenses, oftentimes benefiting generations within the same family unit.
The ministry has reiterated its commitment to resolving any issue that threatens the programme’s longevity and remains steadfast in protecting the rights of workers and maintaining the integrity of and expanding the Canadian TFWP.
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