September 6, 2022 | By Colin O. Jarrett |
Jamaica has appointed a “special fact-finding team” to investigate the working conditions of Jamaicans employed on Canadian farms, after workers in the province of Ontario said last month they faced exploitation at a seismic level.
In a statement shared on social media on Thursday, Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda said a six-person team would travel to Canada to observe operations and speak with workers on the farms and provide a report to him.
The brief statement did not provide any additional information, such as which farms the team members will visit or when the trip to Canada would take place. A group of Jamaican farm workers sent a letter to Samuda in August denouncing their treatment on two Ontario farms, which they likened to “systematic slavery”.
The workers, who were not named for fear of retribution, said they were in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Programme, a decades-old scheme that allows Canadian employers to hire temporary migrant workers from Mexico and 11 countries in the Caribbean to fill gaps in the country’s agricultural labour market.