Trinidad & Tobago, Canada sign agreements

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad- The Governments of Trinidad and Tobago (TT) and Canada have signed two new bilateral public sector agreements to benefit TT, and both have begun discussions on the employment of skilled labourers in Canada’s energy sector.

TT will also house the regional office of a new Canada-Caribbean Economic Development (Canada-CariED) programme.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made these announcements yesterday at a luncheon she hosted at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s in honour of Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, and his wife Sharon. The Canadian couple are on a three-day visit to TT.

Johnston in a brief address commended TT on its leading role in the region. He said Persad-Bissessar is much admired internationally especially for her work on women and children. Noting that the two countries are working together to improve security in the hemisphere, he said that focus must not only be on problems, but on bettering already good relations.
Today he is due to meet with members of the business community.

In her address at the luncheon, Persad-Bissessar said the first agreement signed yesterday at the Diplomatic Centre, prior to the luncheon, will provide for assistance in the expansion and modernisation of health sector facilities.

The second, a memorandum of understanding, will provide for sharing correctional information and expertise between the prisons services in both countries. Negotiations are currently underway between the Ministry of Public Administration and the Canadians, Persad-Bissesar said, for an agreement that will provide assistance in the modernisation of the public service.

On the discussions on the employment of skilled labourers in the energy sector in Alberta, Persad-Bissessar said, “my Government has received a request from the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drill Contractors to fill positions of drillers, derrick-hands and motor hands.” Some 300 vacancies exist, which could be filled by skilled TT labourers.
This request, she said, is currently with Labour Minister Errol McLeod.

Commenting on the Canada-Caribbean Economic Development programme, Persad-Bissessar said the six-year programme will focus on small and micro enterprises (SMEs). It is an area, she said, which Government is developing in TT.
The programme is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

TT stands ready to house the regional office, she said, and Canada last week agreed to this.

Meanwhile, T&T continues to benefit from CIDA funding, she said, in areas of teacher training, establishment of radar facilities for the airports, disaster risk reduction and private sector development. As TT and Canada mark their 50 years of diplomatic relations, which coincides with TT’s 50th independence anniversary, Persad-Bissessar said that TT High Commission to Canada is currently in the process of printing a commemorative book on distinguished accomplished nationals of TT who have made their mark on the Canadian landscape in a number of areas including business, politics, medicine, education, media and literature.

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