Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 21, 2017 (SKNIS): Locals that participated in this year’s Canada/Caribbean Seasonal Agriculture Workers Programme (CCSAWP) shared information about their experience and gave recommendations on ways to improve the programme at a debriefing session held on Thursday (December 21) at the Department of Agriculture’s Conference Room.

The meeting was hosted by the Department of Labour and was attended by top officials including the Minister of Labour, Honourable Vance Amory, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ron Dublin-Collins, and Commissioner of Labour, Shernel James.

Issues pertaining to the proper representation of workers while in Canada, greater cooperation among workers from St. Kitts and Nevis, and the total number of hours worked were discussed.

Minister Amory said that the work programme in Canada is extremely important to the St. Kitts and Nevis government as it provides exposure to a different culture; provides employment for individuals; and facilitates ongoing engagement between representatives from St. Kitts and Nevis and Canada, particularly at the government to government level.

He said that local officials will continue to engage with the farm owners and other Canadian representatives to ensure that the needs of the participants are addressed.

“We will do whatever we think is best, with your assistance, to make sure that things are good for you as you go back to the programme,” Minister Amory stated.

Twenty-one local persons participated in the 2017 season, which lasted as long as 8 months for some workers depending on which farm they were assigned and the type of crop they grow. The Minister of Labour expressed his desire to see more persons capitalize on the opportunities of the seasonal work programme, especially since some countries contribute more than 500 workers per season.

“I want you to advise us of anyone, friends, family, whom you think can benefit from the programme, and the Labour Commissioner and her staff … will be willing to get the applications for you so you can get those people on,” he said.

While the pay for workers varied depending on the farm they were stationed at, the minimum earned was $11.40 Canadian dollar, which is approximately EC $24.21 per hour.