During my time as Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, I had the opportunity to work with Jamaican Ministers and officials and Canadian agencies and employers on various aspects of Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.
The Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (SAWP) as all Jamaicans understand is a longstanding and tremendously important aspect of our bilateral relationship. In existence for 50 years, it has proven to be a significant contributor to Jamaica’s economic well-being (in the form of the earnings that workers bring back home) as well as Canada’s (in the form of reliable, hard-working labour for Canadian growers and producers). Estimates from the Jamaican government suggest that the remittance amount received each year from the program is comparable to what Canada’s significant development assistance program delivers in the country.
The SAWP, and the other temporary foreign worker programs in Canada, are complex, and at times controversial. Some Canadians are not in favour of the idea of giving employment to foreign workers. Some foreign workers believe that they are taken advantage of under the programs.
Canada’s National Post newspaper, and other sister publications, have put out a special series on the various issues around these programs. Written by 2015-16 Michelle Lang Fellowship recipient Alia Dharssi, they examine how Canada’s temporary foreign worker program and immigration system is shaping the country’s economy.
I have been working my way through Ms. Dharssi’s and wanted to share them with colleagues and followers in Jamaica. They make a very interesting read.
The stories can be found at this link.
The videos can be found as this link
There are twitter hashtags noted in the articles for those who want to jump into the debate.