Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Henry calls for more women in Seasonal Overseas Work Programme

Published:Friday | July 10, 2020 | 10:05 AM
State Minister Zavia Mayne (left) Minister of Labour & Social Security, Mike Henry and Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Laurie Peters

Newly appointed Minister of Labour and Social Security, Mike Henry, says he wants to see more women involved in the Seasonal Agriculture Workers programme (SAWP) between Jamaica and Canada. 

Henry made this disclosure during a courtesy call at his office by the Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Laurie Peters.

According to Henry, while there has been a steady minimal increase over the last five years, the time has come to intensify this effort and significantly increase the numbers. 

He suggested that in light of COVID-19 and the previous challenges faced by the oversees employers, it would be a positive move to have the Canadian government give some incentives to the employers to provide safe, secure and female friendly bunkering facilities.

Henry noted that in 1989, five women were sent to a tobacco farm, this number grew to 133 in 2008 and by the 2019/2020 financial year the number increased to 606 under the SAWP. This, he says,  is still lower than their male counterparts.

Peters, who is in agreement with Henry’s proposal, is also promoting the implementation of other worker programmes by the Canadian government, including the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE).  She says this programme is administered in Canada through colleges and other institutions and resembles the Jamaican version of Vocational Schools.  

Focusing on sustainable agriculture, the programme will be a partnership between two institutions in Canada and two in Jamaica; one of them being the HEART/TRUST NTA.

Since the start of the year, 6,000 workers left Jamaica on the Farm Work programme; 75 per cent are returning workers who have spent 20-30 years in the programme and another 20-25 per cent are new recruits. 

In addition, there was a record increase in the number of young persons to the programme.  

The SAWP began in 1996 under a bilateral agreement between Jamaica and Canada for the supply of agricultural workers to utilise their skills in planting and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. 

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