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Increase in numbers for Canadian Hotel Workers’ Programme
By Regina Selman Moore
Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, Minister of Labour, is reporting an increase in numbers for Barbadians accepted to the hotel workers programme, based in Canada.
While delivering remarks on Friday morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, as the National Employment Bureau presented its Local Annual Review Meeting of the Hotel Workers’ Programme – namely the Low-skilled Programme based in Canada and the H2-B Non-Agricultural Programme based in the USA – the Minister acknowledged that there now 76 new recruits attached to the above named programme, as new employers are showing an interest in Barbadian workers.
“The hotel programme in Canada is showing improvement in numbers.
Taboo Resorts, which has been recruiting Barbadian workers since 2003, is on board again and we expect that some 25 persons will be placed there. Let me acknowledge and thank Taboo Resorts for the faith they have shown in the Barbadian worker,” Byer-Suckoo remarked.
“I am pleased to announce that two new resorts will be employing Barbadian workers this season. JW Marriot Luxury Hotel located east of Muskoka will be recruiting 69 workers. That is a large number for an establishment employing persons for the first time. Fern Resorts in Orillia Canada will be employing five persons. These figures mean that approximately 76 new recruits will be joining the hotel programme in Canada. It represents more than a 100 per cent increase over last year’s figure,” she said.
Byer-Suckoo however acknowledged that the US-based H2-B programme has been having its fair share of challenges in recent times. There were some immigration difficulties, which prevented Barbados from participating in the programme last year, she indicated. However, those issues have now been resolved and the country is now eligible to participate this year. The Minister nevertheless added that there is yet another hurdle to overcome.
“The US authorities have recently decided that the employer is responsible for the visa and air transportation costs of employees. Understandably, this greatly increases the employers’ overhead costs, which has implications for hiring employees outside of the USA. An important focus for us in the Ministry at this time, is to see how best we can address the challenge. We are currently analysing the situation against the background that the External Employment Programme is very important to us and we will, within legitimate means, continue to place Barbados on the programme,” she revealed.
While encouraging the workers on a whole to have a good work ethic and to fly the Barbadian flag high, Byer-Suckoo urged those in the Canadian programme to take note of an important change taking place from this year. The requirement now is that those participating in the non-agricultural programme in Canada must enter the Home Savings Programme and contribute to the National Insurance Scheme, in compliance with the laws of Barbados.
“Your contributions will be taken from your home savings. In addition, you will be required to make a contribution to the administrative operation of the Liasion Service in Canada,” she stated. This is the structure in place for the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, which has worked well over the years, she noted. The goal, she said, is for uniformity for all aspects of the External Employment Programme, in the area of home savings, NIS contributions and contributions to the administrative operations of the Liasion Service.