Government looking to relax immigration restrictions on Diaspora
Government is seeking to make it easier for persons of Barbadian descent to live and work here.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce made the disclosure today while responding to a query from a delegate attending the Third Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
Arguing that immigration reform was necessary at this juncture of Barbados’ economic history, Boyce said: “As we move into a very competitive 21st century, the matter of immigration reform is something which is clearly engaging our attention. It is immigration reform within the context where Government needs to ensure that the economy has the capacity and the skills to be able to grow at a rate which satisfies us all. Immigration reform must recognise the role members of the diaspora play in providing many of those skills.
Expanding on the Government’s intent, Boyce said: “Government is trying to facilitate persons who are [of Barbadian descent] and wish to return to Barbados and work in the country. Those persons will be able to apply for immigrant status in Barbados until they are ready to resettle. Immigrant status will allow them to work and travel as they wish. However, if they are born of Barbadian parents they would get their citizenship automatically by descent.” Meanwhile, reacting to another query from the floor, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo acknowledged that the Canadian foreign worker programme was facing some challenges.
“That is the programme that invites Barbadians to work in hotel, restaurants and the services generally. That programme has been challenged primarily because of the level of unemployment in Canada in the service sector. In addition, there has been a lot of bad press highlighting stories of exploitation by employers and general bad treatment of workers.
“We are concentrating on the higher skilled worker and there are different arrangements. One of the challenges is to ensure that the training requirements that they have in place we can meet. We are ensuring that our qualifications meet their standards. If employers in Canada want a plumber or a carpenter we can send them because we have workers who are trained under the Skills Training Programme at the Samual Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
“We also have a challenge with the limited number of liaison officers who are asked to oversee the programme. We currently have to depend on members of the diaspora to link us up with other job opportunities,” Suckoo explained.
She also noted that the country faces challenges in the United States with its high level of unemployment, but pointed out that the cruise line business has opened opportunities for Barbadians.