A press statement from the media centre of the OECS says Canadian authorities are investigating “recent press reports about alleged challenges faced by women participating in the programme on a farm in Nova Scotia”.
The OECS statement promises that the “outcome of due process would be communicated at the appropriate time”.
Calls have also been made locally for the allegations to be investigated by local authorities.
The OECS Press Statement notes that “the impact of the OECS farm worker’s employment in the past few years has been significant, despite the challenges of the pandemic. During that time the ECLS was successful in mobilizing 3 charter flights in 2020 and 4 charter flights in 2021 – to facilitate the airlift of hundreds of farm workers to fulfill their employment contracts, in Canada when commercial flights were disrupted”.
The statement adds “These efforts resulted in workers completing their contracts and earning over 37 million Eastern Caribbean dollars in wages per annum, most of that returning to local OECS economies in the form of remittances”.
The Canada-Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme has been in existence for about 50 years and is a notable example of cooperation between participating Caribbean countries and Canada. Over the years hundreds of farm workers from OECS communities have travelled to Canada and have engaged in gainful employment on farms across Canada.
Some farm workers have returned to Canada repeatedly for up to 30 years in some cases.