The Canadian government has designated local carrier Air Transat to operate scheduled international air service between Canada and Jamaica.
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent made the announcement last Sunday at the Word of Truth Christian Centre in Pickering.
Jamaica is Canada’s 13th largest bilateral air travel market and the new designation will facilitate new air services from cities across Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton and Quebec.
Under Canada’s international air transportation policy, all Canadian air carriers may apply to Canada’s transport minister for designation to operate scheduled international air services. This designation was made possible by the 1985 Air Services Agreement – it was amended two years later – between Canada and Jamaica.
“This new service highlights Canada’s continued action to provide more options to Canadians when choosing an air carrier to Jamaica and it will encourage competition, we hope, and growth in the Canadian airline industry while promoting international travel alternatives for consumers of both countries.
“It also gives Canadians another option to travel to Jamaica and by that we are increasing our people-to-people connection and allowing ideas, people and economic benefits to flow freely between our countries.”
The Canadian government has negotiated open, new or expanded air service agreements with nearly 50 countries in the last four years.
Canada and Jamaica has had a healthy relationship since the two countries established diplomatic relations when the Caribbean country secured independence in 1962.
“Jamaica is a very important and longstanding partner and neighbour of Canada,” said Kent, the Member of Parliament for Thornhill and former deputy editor of Global TV News. “We have a rich, warm and shared history, one that encompasses robust political and commercial ties and relations and strong people-to-people ties fostered with the large and dynamic Diaspora that binds our countries.
“You (most of the church’s congregation are Jamaican Canadians) are representative of the dynamic Jamaican-Canadian community making valuable contributions to our society. The influence that Jamaican-Canadians have had in business, the arts, sports and of course culture has greatly enriched Canadian society. Canada views Jamaica as a key partner on many issues, including security, good governance, justice reform and co-operation in so many ways and in so many multilateral organizations.”
Word of Truth Christian Centre’s founding pastor Bishop Joseph Fisher thanked Kent for taking the time out of his busy schedule to attend last Sunday’s worship service and make the important announcement.
Kent is the second high-ranking federal Conservative Party member to visit the church in the past two years, following Jason Kenney.
The church established a Community Resource Centre five years ago that administers the Skills Link Employment program that helps immigrants and young Canadians obtain useful career information, develop skills, find suitable jobs and remain employed.
The program, which boasts an 80 per cent success rate, was cancelled last year when the federal government cut funding. Last month, Service Canada reinstated reduced funding for the program that re-starts on March 1.
Fisher said the program has helped to turn around the lives of many young people.
“The church must change with the times because it will become irrelevant,” he said. “We have to come up with things that will interest them. Our children are hip-hopping and perhaps we need to provide them with a space for them to do their thing. The church must broaden its vision and that’s what we have done.”
Fisher is the centre’s program director.