17 Ja’cans on farm work programme in Canada test positive for COVID-19

About 17 Jamaicans employed to the Green Hill Farm in Ontario, Canada have returned positive results for COVID-19, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has confirmed.

The workers were among those who returned to Canada in January under the North American farm work programme, which also includes the United States.

The Labour Ministry confirmed late Wednesday that they were among other overseas farmworkers, mainly from Guatemala and Mexico, who were tested at the farm after cases of the coronavirus were detected among the crews.

The ministry said that the Jamaican liaison service in Ontario has been working with the owners of the farm as well as local health authorities to monitor the workers who have been quarantined since the exposure. The employers have agreed that they will continue to pay them for 40 hours per week and provide food, shelter and medication while they are quarantined.

The MLSS says that it has been acting through its liaison services in Canada and in Washington, to look after the interests of the Jamaicans in both Canada and the United States.

Close to 6,000 farm workers from Jamaica, about half of whom were recalled by their farms, have travelled to North America since January. However, this is much less than the 14,000-15,000 who normally travel to the continent each year to participate in the programme.

Permanent secretary in the MLSS, Collette Roberts Risden, told a meeting of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriation Committee (PAAC) Wednesday that no new recruits are being sent to join the programme since January, as only farmers who have been on the programme prior to now are being recalled.