BY GEORGINA KEKEA
A Chief from North Guadalcanal is questioning how the labour mobility programme in Canada will assist the Guadalcanal Provincial Government (GPG).
Benedict Garimane told Island Sun he has been wondering how the province will benefit from the programme.
He said over the years, Guadalcanal has been sending workers to Canada but tangible benefits from the programme is yet to be felt or seen.
He said lack of health and sanitation facilities continues to be a problem in the province.
Lack of classrooms and infrastructure are still a problem in Guadalcanal province and he questions how GPG will recover the monies spent on sending the workers to Canada.
“I do not have anything against the labour mobility programme. In fact I think the programme is a very good one.
“However I am concerned about the amount of money spent on these workers to go to Canada. How will GPG benefit from them?
“Do they send their remittances back to GPG to go towards development in Guadalcanal province as a way of repaying GPG or how do they help in the development of Guadalcanal province by working in Canada?”
Garimane says though the programme is highly commended, it still leaves more room for questions than answers.
He said even the selection of workers to go to Canada does not reflect a fair distribution of people from Guadalcanal province.
“We have 21 wards. They should select from the wards instead of just selecting workers from the two ends of the island.
“Even North Guadalcanal who is the biggest contributor in terms of bringing in money for GPG has not seen any of its constituent benefit from that programme.”
Garimane questioned if this programme is for the whole of Guadalcanal or for only certain parts of Guadalcanal.
He said why he is raising this concern is because GPG represents everyone on Guadalcanal.
“The government belongs to us. We want to know how GPG will reimburse the monies spent on sending workers to Canada.
“Millions of dollars had been spent on a few people only, while the majority looks on silently.”
In response to Garimane’s concerns, GP External Affairs and Communications, Mack Fadden Aoraunisaka says GPG only started sending workers to Canada towards the end of 2016.
He clarified that GPG never spent any money on workers going to Canada. Instead it is the employer that meets the travel costs while CITREC Canada meets all immigration costs, if there is any.
Aoraunisaka said that they (GPG) will benefit from remittance.
“There is a GPG account where money shall be remitted to. However please note we just started sending people to work in Canada, benefits and recovery is a long term prospect. We can’t just recover the amount overnight,” Aoraunisaka said.
He said there are lots of benefits for Guadalcanal province besides the remittance aspect.
“There is the education benefit and exposure benefit, meaning our workers working in Canada upon their return can bring in more skills and knowledge to boost our tourism and hospitality and agriculture sector.”
Aoraunisaka said GPG paid for CITREC the education component, trained the locals and have them graduated with Canadian standard in Tourism and Hospitality and Agriculture certifications.
“The applications to undertake CITREC training is done fairly since there is a quota per Ward and application must be endorsed by an MPA. Students who graduate from CITREC are job ready.
“They have education and qualification of Canadian standard and can work anywhere in the Solomon Islands and in Canada with their qualification.
“However the misconception is that once you graduate, you should automatically fly to Canada and that there is a job for you over there, that is not the case,” Aoraunisaka clarified.
He said selection of workers going to Canada is merit based and done in Canada by the employer.
“GPG and GPEA and CITREC Canada have no influence over this part of the process. The employer choose who he want to work for him.”
Aoraunisaka encourages Guadalcanal people to come to GP Headquarter to seek clarification on the CITREC programme.