Government works towards better conditions for Canadian farm workers

According to Minister for Gender Affairs Dr. Virginia Albert Poyotte, the Government is working towards achieving better working conditions for Saint Lucians working on Canadian farms. Earlier this year, a group of Saint Lucian women employed in the Canadian Farm Work Program complained of ill-treatment, meted out to them, and expressed their disappointment over the program.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting Monday, Dr. Poyotte said Government is in dialogue with Canadian authorities to refine the terms and conditions of employment for the seasonal farm workers program. “The Canadians have instituted an investigation into the matter,” she said, stating that the report’s findings would be available to her.

“The Department of Labour also met with our women workers here in Saint Lucia, and they did give us an indication of what transpired,” Dr. Poyotte said. Despite the opportunity to work overseas, a few participants of the program opted to return to Saint Lucia, knowing the bad economic climate there, as opposed to being verbally and physically abused in Canada.

Poyotte praised the Saint Lucian women for completing the project ahead of the contracted time. The program involves the temporary recruitment and selection of workers for varying periods, starting at six weeks to eight months throughout the year on Canadian Farms in the Provinces of Ontario and Alberta.

Workers cultivate and harvest fruits and vegetable crops, tobacco, flowers, and ginseng, and the greenhouse industry - nurseries and hydroponics.

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