Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles Jr., says a major focus for the Government under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP), going forward, will be enhancing the rights and welfare of Jamaican participants.

“First and foremost [we have] to ensure that the minimum standard is acceptable. Secondly, we have to expand opportunities. And so, that will come from strengthening the relationships that we have with all of the stakeholders to make sure that Jamaica stands out as a country of competence,” Charles Jr. said.

He was speaking during the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Television programme 'Get the Facts', recently.

Charles Jr. said efforts are being made to provide optimal liaison services, adding “I believe we are on our way in terms of orienting and training our officers, opening up new offices, and revising the process from selection to orientation, and evaluation and monitoring”.

“[This] is to ensure that everything we are doing along this journey is as efficient and effective as possible to achieve the goal. We want Jamaicans to have opportunities that are safe, and we want this programme to be sustainable,” he said.

Charles Jr. stated that liaison officers are the primary and immediate response contacts to help support the farm workers.

“We have seen in the last year, improvement in the frequency and the impact of their engagement to the extent where, I believe that in the next three years, we are hoping to see positive trends in terms of expansion of opportunities for Jamaicans in Canada and the United States,” he stated.

The Minister further encouraged the farm workers to stick with the programme, to be open and to communicate with the Ministry.

“We will provide as many opportunities [as possible] for you to be able to voice your concerns. This is a good programme for Jamaica, and we look forward to expanding the programme, the opportunities and expanding the benefits,” Charles Jr. said.

Almost 10,000 Jamaicans benefited under the programme in Canada during last year.

The Overseas Employment Programme has been a valued contributor to both the Jamaican and Canadian economies over the years.

It has provided financing for many Jamaican families to elevate their standard of living.

- JIS News