Job opportunities sought for Jamaican people with disabilities
KINGSTON, JAMAICA — The government is seeking to get even more work-abroad jobs for Jamaicans, this time with a focus on employment for people with disabilities.
It has reportedly set sights on the controversial yet long-standing Commonwealth Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (CCSAWP) and is said to be exploring how Jamaicans with disabilities can capitalize on such opportunities.
Through the programme, eligible workers from Caribbean countries including Jamaica travel to various Canadian provinces to live while working full-time on farms or similar agricultural projects.
Minister of Labour & Social Security Pearnel Charles Jr. was quoted in the government’s media outlet as saying: “We have already started to have positive conversations with some of the employers in Canada, some of whom are open to the prospect of inviting and welcoming persons with disabilities who still have the capability and the right attitude for them to get an opportunity to engage in a programme like the farm work programme.
“We are taking those steps, having those discussions and, hopefully, we can carve out a space for persons with disabilities in these programmes going forward.”
Improved agriculture jobs for Jamaicans
The Farm Workers programme has been the topic of debate recently after several incidents involving Jamaican workers made headlines.
Last year, several Jamaican participants in the Farm Workers programme allegedly raised concern about their treatment while part of the programme.
Shortly after, the government said it conducted internal investigations and found that Jamaican workers were “thriving” under the programme, although former Minister of Labour Karl Samuda granted at the time that the programme was “not perfect.”
However, in November of this year, Jamaican workers on the CCSAWP programme claimed that they were being mistreated. Others working on a farm in Ontario were involved in a brawl and subsequently sent home.
Weeks later, a cohort of some 60 delegates from both Canada and participating Caribbean countries met in Trinidad & Tobago for an Annual Review Meeting to discuss ways the programme can be improved.
The results of those discussions have yet to be revealed.