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WHO WE AREThe International Organization for Migration (IOM) is part of the United Nations System as the leading inter-governmental organization promoting since 1951 humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all, with 175 member states and a presence in 171 countries.
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IOM-Managed Temporary Labour Migration Programme to Canada Assists More than 12,000 Guatemalans
The IOM Labour Migration Programme from Guatemala to Canada, which
began in 2003 with 215 workers, recently assisted the 12,000th
Since 2003, the programme has become a success with employers as
well as Guatemalans signing up to participate. In 2009 a
total of 3,858 labour migrants worked travelled to Canada with IOM
assistance to work on 341 farms.
Stefan Mantsch, Manager of the IOM Labour Migration Programme in
Guatemala, says, "This time of year is high season for employer
requests. We receive an average of 10 requests daily.
This year we will easily surpass our target of helping 4,000
persons to travel to Canada."
IOM provides technical assistance to the Guatemalan Government,
carries out field recruitment for new participants, conducts
fit-for-work evaluations, helps new recruits prepare the necessary
documents and other requirements for travel to Canada, arranges for
medical clearance, provides pre-departure orientation sessions,
arranges flights, and provides assistance at the airport.
Mantsch adds, "This is a very dynamic programme driven by
requests from employers. From the moment IOM receives a
request from an employer to the time the workers are on the plane
bound for Canada is an average of 15 days."
Some 90 per cent of participants work in the agricultural
sector, but the programme has expanded to include poultry,
construction, dairy, landscaping, and laundry services.
At a recent field recruitment exercise in the village of
Panabajal, more than 120 new applicants were eagerly awaiting the
arrival of the IOM team that would check documents and perform a
series of aptitude tests.
Mantsch explains as a group of four migrants complete a numeracy
and literacy test, "We need to have workers in our database who are
tested and ready to go so we can respond quickly to the employers'
Forty-four year old Juan Chan Matzer has travelled to Canada
three consecutive years. He's hoping his Canadian employer
will request his service again in 2010 so he can accomplish some
unmet goals, although he has managed to buy land and a car.
The vast majority of participants tell IOM they invest their
earnings buying land, building or enlarging their home, and
providing a higher level of education for their children.
The programme began in 2003 after the signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between IOM Guatemala and the Fondation des
Entreprises en Recrutement de Main-d'uvre agricole
Étrangère (FERME), an employer association in
Montreal that represents hundreds of employers and coordinates the
seasonal hiring of temporary migrant workers in the Province of
Québec. But today IOM also receives request from
employers in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Nova
The success of the Programme is also measured in the very low
drop-out rates: only 2.5 per cent of participants do not
finish their contracts, and the rate of non-return stands at 0.2
The agreement stipulates that all migrants must return to their
country of origin at the end of their contracts, which range
between four and six months, and provide coverage under Canadian
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