A better environment has been created for the 300 Saint Lucians employed in Canada under the Canada/Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme following the conclusion of a review. However, remittances from those working on ganja farms could be in a spot of trouble if government does not work something out quickly.
This year’s review took place at Harbour Club Resort this week and was attended by delegates from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Canadian Government and Canadian farmers’ organizations.
Labour Minister Stephenson King said the review was a success, as it allowed workers from the Caribbean to participate in the programme with little difficulty, as issues that would interfere with the smooth operation of the programme were dealt with.
“This year, we considered seven amendments to the agreement and there was extremely cordial dialogue and discussion in those matters except one which was deferred for further consideration,” King said.
The deferred amendment dealt with farm workers unfit to travel at the end of their contract due to a medical situation or natural causes.
Among the issues dealt with at the review were some relating to the early cessation of employment and the compensation that would have to be considered.
Also discussed was whether the Government of Saint Lucia would consider remittances from farm workers employed on marijuana farms in Canada to families at home as proceeds of crime and confiscate them.
Marijuana is legalized in Canada, but not in Saint Lucia, where its’ trafficking, trading or handling is deemed a violation of laws governing illegal drugs, marijuana being one such drug.
Several Canadian farmers have moved into cultivating marijuana, expanding those farms in the process. There are Saint Lucians already working on these farms, according to King.
King said that the issue government has to face is whether those ganja farm workers can transfer their earnings to Saint Lucia without those earnings being classified as ‘proceeds of crime’.
“The concern, really, is whether there will be any violation of existing legislation in as far as the engagement of regional workers on the marijuana farms.
“The reality of the day is one we have to deal with because it’s hitting us head-on,” King said.
The Labour Minister explained that at present an active conversation is taking place in Cabinet where that particular issue will be dealt with, sooner rather than later.
“It’s a legal conflict that we will resolve and hopefully we will have no issue going forward,” King said.