Ongoing travel restrictions as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic have created challenges the world over. The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP) is no exception, suffering significant setbacks since farmers have been unable to travel.
Cognisant of the economic implications of a contracted programme and wary of the health risks of travelling, the OECS Commission – through its Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service (ECLS) – worked closely with the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), CanAg Travel Services, the Government of Canada and Sunwing Airlines to facilitate the safe passage of 180 OECS nationals to Canada, via a chartered flight, on Tuesday, 12 May 2020.
Stringent COVID-19 ‘Health and Safety’ protocols were established prior to the departure of the workers. These protocols were implemented locally, by the respective Ministry of Labour, with support from the Ministry of Health and the Police force; and in Canada by the ECLS, in collaboration with Canadian authorities.
The OECS Commission via the ECLS, ensured that all 180 workers were welcomed and assisted on arrival in Canada, by the Head, ECLS, Mr. Olaf Fontenelle and the ECLS team – who will ensure the wellbeing of all OECS farm workers while employed in Canada.