“Use Momentum To Keep Moving Forward”

September 1, 2015

[Opinion column written by Premier Michael Dunkley]

I am amazed at the capacity of a well-intentioned legislature to do good things for the people it serves.

The just-finished summer sitting is a good example of what I’m talking about.

In the weeks since it began in mid-May, MPs, Senators, Ministers and Civil Servants have progressed the people’s business on many fronts – supporting family health, reforming the justice system, insuring the underinsured, protecting privacy, planning our energy future, expanding economic opportunity and shielding people’s capacity to help others.

Let me touch on a few in no particular order.

Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell brought forward the St. George’s Resort Act for the construction of a new hotel above the Old Town.

It’s a project that will create hundreds of jobs and career opportunities for Bermudians for years to come, revive the East End economy and provide a big shot in the arm for our tourism industry.

I was pleased with continuing progress on changes to the Children’s Act to help children affected by parental separation.

The Co-Parenting Mediation Council, set up on August 1st by Minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin, is progressing the structure that will guide mediation. The goal is to keep parents who are separating involved in the lives of their children, to make custody and divorce proceedings constructive and less acrimonious. It’s important work, creating positive possibilities for many lives, young and old.

The Government’s decision in early August to waive fees that charities faced for Police security checks on their volunteers will help them get on with the business of helping people.

Two Bills brought forward by Attorney General Trevor Moniz initiated long-overdue reform of our antiquated legal system.

The reforms, which are in keeping with the concerns and objectives of Bermuda’s Chief Justice, are designed to ensure that justice is applied efficiently “without diluting fairness.”

The Health Minister, her staff and concerned people from across the Island are working hard to set the health care system onto a path we can afford.

The need to improve individual health and wellness is integral to this work, as was evidenced by a survey this summer showing 74.6% of Bermudians either overweight or obese, and 42% of the total population over 18 reporting three or more chronic disease risk factors.

To improve disease management, promote healthy lifestyle and more efficient use of services, Minister Jeanne Atherden announced four new benefits under HIP and FutureCare that take effect next week, September 1st. They are:

Personal Home Care Services enabling people to remain in their homes and reduce hospital stays

Increased specialist visits for better disease management

Preventive care management to stay healthy, and

HIP for young Bermudians up to 18 years of age with coverage for specialist, dental and overseas care.

These are all positive steps to help Bermudians live healthy lives and within our means.

Economic Development Minister Dr. Grant Gibbons has been busy fulfilling his broad responsibilities.

He has introduced draft legislation to protect people’s rights in the collection, use and transfer of their personal information – critically important protection in an age of instant communication and rapid technological change that has made all of us more vulnerable to inappropriate use of our personal information.

Dr. Gibbons also tabled a draft Electricity Act, which will revolutionize Bermuda’s energy industry by opening doors to independent power producers, wider use of renewable energy sources and competition in electricity generation.

The Act sets the stage for an energy future that is more sustainable, affordable and secure.

This summer has also seen evidence that more than two years of our work to make the economy strong again is starting to bear fruit.

Finance Minister Bob Richards announced Bermuda’s GDP grew 3.7% in the first quarter of the year. Unemployment is down to 7% from 9%. Our once moribund retail sector has recorded 11 straight months of growth, with June recording an astounding 7.1% rise. Real estate sales are up, signaling a return of value to the family home. Median gross annual employment income is up 5%. Air arrivals remain flat but visitor spending is up significantly, indicating Bermuda’s marketing is starting to connect with more valuable customers. Morgan’s Point got first phase Planning permission and America’s Cup preparations continue apace.

All of these initiatives and results point to progress on the many challenges facing the people of Bermuda.

There is much more to be done to bring relief to the many families that continue to struggle, but I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues, civil servants and the many agencies across the Island for an amazing job – getting it done for Bermudians.

Despite the terrible negativity that dominates so much of our public life, it doesn’t hold a candle to the good work Bermudians are doing every week to make the Island work better for one and all.

So let’s have faith in each other. Let’s keep together, and give good work a chance to work. Let’s use this momentum to keep moving forward. The future is looking bright.

- Michael Dunkley

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Comments (7)

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  1. Thank you Mr. Premier says:

    for your energy, dedication and unwavering committment to getting Bermuda back on its feet.

    Keep up the good work.

    Inspirational words that we need in the face of so much negativity!

  2. Mumbojumbo says:

    yes o agree inspiah away…dat is always good….you know what else is right in front of us?….Medical marijuanna and its’legal and licensed use thereof….whoever said money doesn’t grow on trees has onbviously never sold marijuanna….honestly…I would like to….I would love to sell legal meficinal marijuanna to people who have licensed medical need cards…both tourists ,guest residents…and Bermudians.But alas…it has not been made legal yet….well…when you decide to assist our needful…who …frankly…are afraid of side effects of pharmecutical meds…death being one of them…when freedom of choice is determine just that…besides…If I sell it it won’t have addititves innit…just pure unadulterated marijuanna…and that….never hurt anyone….unless laughfter…and munchies are wrong.

  3. Mumbojumbo says:

    I want to open a govt. regulated and taxed medical dispensery…and I need govt.s blessing to do so.So…please…see the way forward…

  4. Coffee says:

    Premier …. With all due respect …. Many Bermudians are leaving because they have no future here with you in charge .

  5. Very thankful says:

    Thank you and continue to persevere. Bermuda is rebounding under your leadership Premier Dunkley.

  6. DONALD says:

    If we carry on like we have been doing in the past we are never going to get out of debt.

    Do you want to make Bermuda great again ?

    Do you want to stop them throwing money away ?

    They are good at collecting taxes but not good at how to spend it because it is not their money.

    PRISON should not be a free ride, the country can not afford to feed and pamper these people. Why should we pay for them, charge the inmates $80.00 per day by way of a ” Note of Hand”. The prisons are a business which looses money at least they should break even.

    EDUCATION should not be a free ride after kinder garten, charge their parents who drive their kids to school in fancy cars and take luxury vacations etc, give Government and big business scholarships only to promising children.

    SOCIAL ASSISTANCE payments should be treated as loans to recipients they by keeping the fund in tack. Meaning recipients can only borrow against their own contributions.

    BUDGET. Cut the budget to all Government departments and stop the purchase of their vehicles.

    You have 300 days to get out of the RED.

    FOOD Reduce the import duty .

    GAS & FUEL Reduce the import duty .

    Don’t attack the people attack the system.

  7. Raymond Ray says:

    Mr. Premier I too have been somewhat please with your accomplishments yet I’m disappointed not getting a response when in desperate need of one,(since it was literally a matter of my life and yes, death…)
    I will be home after treatment, God be willing next week to elaborate further…