by Linda Straker
- 17 seasonal agriculture workers departed today on chartered flight
- No inbound passengers landed
- The 17 worked on farms previously and were selected by Canadian farm management to return
17 Grenadian farm workers who were scheduled to depart the island in early March, left today, 4 June 2020, after the Canadian Government in collaboration with the management of various agricultural farms, arranged for a chartered flight to make a trip to the region.
There were no inbound passengers on the flight which received special permission to land at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) under the Emergency Powers regulations.
“The flight did not only pick up workers in Grenada, but also [in] St Vincent and St Lucia,” said Labour Minister, Peter David, who explained that the workers are not first-timers, but persons who have worked on the farms previously and were selected to return.
“The persons who left the island are workers who already worked on the farms and are now returning because they were selected by the management of the farms,” he said. The 17 are from different communities throughout Grenada.
The workers are scheduled to return to the island at the end of the contracted period. While some return in December 2020, others will return in January 2021.
The closure of Grenada’s borders and shutdown of the airport to commercial passenger traffic on 25 March as part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 had delayed their departure. A similar scenario existed in other countries in the region which provide agriculture workers to Canadian farms.
In early April, a press release from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Liaison Service (ECLS) in Toronto, Canada said that “regional and international commercial travel suspensions in the Caribbean, continue to pose serious challenges for travel to Canada, despite the recent approval of travel exemptions to Canada for Seasonal Agriculture workers.”
The ECLS further stated that “all workers will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, upon arrival in Canada. Arrangements are being made by Canadian authorities, in collaboration with employers, to facilitate worker self-isolation.”