Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Canadian dream ends?

Published:Sunday | March 3, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Embattled company refunding money to Jamaican practical nursing students who had their hopes of working in that country dashed

Hundreds of practical nursing students in Jamaica who had their dreams of living and working in Canada shattered are reportedly receiving a refund of the C$1,500 they paid to help secure a job in that country.

In May 2011, Ministry of Labour and Social Security statistics showed that 352 students were enrolled in the programme and most of them were having difficulties getting the diplomas they signed up for, much less landing a job in Canada.

News of the refund was revealed in a preliminary response from Professor Michael Patterson, spokesperson for the Canada-based Marmicmon Integrated Marketing and Communications.

Patterson was responding to a Sunday Gleaner query on the circumstances surrounding investigations being conducted by authorities in British Columbia and Alberta in Canada into the affairs of Marmicmon and another company he operates that links Jamaican truck drivers with jobs in that country.

"We have contract with two institutions in Jamaica for placement, not immigration. Our contract was with the institution and, hence, the reason why we have made a refund of those placement fees to the institutions in the students' name," said Patterson of Marmicmon's affairs.

"Our refund process to the institutions is ongoing for all those who provide a request and the receipt of their payment to the institutions," Patterson added.

Dr Ronald Robinson, executive director of the Pre-University School, one of the institutions that partnered with Canada-based firm on the programme designed to train, certify and aid in securing employment in that country's licensed practical nursing sector, confirmed that some of the students have received a refund. However, he could not say how many students from his school have received a refund to date.

"I don't know because I'm not in office. He does that on a monthly basis. Another set of 15 came about two weeks ago," said Robinson.

He said he recently discovered that it is against the law to charge workers in exchange for jobs.

"If I had known that, there was no way somebody could come here and get the students to pay that," said a defiant Robinson.

job placement fee

He also told our news team that his understanding of the C$1,500 was that it was a job-placement fee that was to be used to organise job fairs so that students could speak with employers.

While declining to commit to whether his students would be refunded their tuition, Robinson said this was not the end of the matter. "We are actively pursuing a solution with our lawyers," he said.

In 2011, the Government suspended further recruitment under the nursing programme because of problems as students told heart-wrenching tales of the sacrifice they had to make to take up what was sold to them as a lucrative career opportunity backed by the governments of Jamaica and Canada.

In addition to the C$1,500, students also paid close to $300,000 for tuition for a diploma that was supposed to be granted by a university in Canada.

That also fell through and many of the nurses now have only a diploma granted by the local schools who were part of the programme.

tyrone.reid@gleanerjm.com