Column: Benefits Of ‘Pathways to Status’ Initiative

February 23, 2016

[Opinion column written by the Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy]

Since I announced this Government’s plans for the ‘Pathways to Status’ initiative earlier this month, I have been approached by many people who all had the same [or very similar] question – that question being, “What’s in this for Bermuda?” or, “How will this benefit the economy and, more directly, me?” So, in this column, I will aim to speak exclusively to that topic.

This is the right thing to do; there is no question about that – providing stability and support to individuals who have served our community and helped it flourish for many, many years is long overdue – but our intentions regarding Pathways to Status are, admittedly, not solely altruistic. In truth, there is much to be gained for our island by enacting the proposed Legislative changes under Pathways to Status.

Michael Fahy text 160223

As the Finance Minister said in this year’s budget statement, opportunity for Bermudians to prosper depends on economic growth and today the scope of opportunity is narrowing because demographic trends are working against growth.

Put simply, the more people who are resident on the Island, the stronger certain aspects of our economy will be [such as GDP, Retail Sales, Capital Expenditure and the size of the workforce] and hence the greater the scope for personal opportunity.

And, in this regard, Bermuda has two things working against it – a decreasing birth rate and an aging population of baby-boomers, both of which are having profound effects on economic growth and on demands for Government resources. In 1996, for example, there were 2 babies born for every person that died. In 2014 there were 6 babies born for every 5 deaths. We are barely maintaining our numbers these days.

To put it another way, a woman on average would have to have 2.1 children in order to maintain current population levels. In 1950, the fertility rate was 3.43. Today, it’s 1.75, and is expected to fall to 1.54 in 2020. Bermuda has had below-replacement fertility since the early 1970s. This is reflected in the increase in our median age from 26 in 1960 to 41 in 2010. It is projected to rise to 46 in 2020. A stagnating population will likely result in a stagnating economy.

And this is not just the OBA Government saying this. Different reports from the Department of Statistics have issued warnings about this coming crisis. Prominent community commentators such as Larry Burchall have been a voice of clarity on this issue for several years now. The SAGE Commission warned of the danger of our shrinking population, especially as it relates to falling Government revenue and increasing Government expenditure.

Most recently, the Finance Minister commissioned the services of an independent, international Fiscal Responsibility Panel. In their 2015 Annual Assessment for Bermuda, the panel warned of Bermuda’s projected rapid population decline. In addition, they warned that Bermuda’s population decline would be “very rapid by international standards”. They specifically recommended a more liberal immigration policy.

Our new immigration policy will do the following:

  1. Broaden Bermuda’s tax base – this keeps our taxes low and keeps the level of public services that we enjoy.
  2. Increase the number of persons paying health insurance in Bermuda. Policy holders subsidize Government insurance. This will protect HIP and FutureCare benefits, which our vulnerable residents rely on.
  3. Broaden the number of people paying into Social Insurance and private pensions. The Contributory Pension Fund is underfunded by $2.07 billion. Without reversing our population trends, we will need to retire at a later age, pay more or receive less from our pensions.
  4. Encourage long-term residents to spend their life savings in Bermuda by purchasing real estate, renovating their homes, investing in local companies, spending on local goods and services – all of which improves the economy, creates more jobs and increases Government revenue; and
  5. Prevent Bermuda from losing out on the valuable skills, experience and expertise of long-term residents who have been fully integrated into our economy.

I also want to mention that this isn’t simply a case of ‘filling Bermuda with anyone who comes along’ for the sake of increasing our population. The people we are talking about keeping are already here; and they’re here because we needed them then and still need them now.

So far I have only made mention of the economic benefits of the Pathways initiative. There are also a number of social benefits.

First of all, many of these long-term residents are our friends, family members and work colleagues. Giving them the opportunity to stay here will protect the social networks that we and our children have in place.

Additionally, many long-term residents are heavily involved in philanthropic, sporting & leisure organizations, which in turn, contribute to positive improvements in the lives of many Bermudians.

Over the past few years as more and more expat workers left Bermuda to return to their homelands, charities have seen a drastic fall in valuable donor dollars; with many more charities now competing for fewer resources. Since non-Bermudians can work on a volunteer basis, charities depend on non-Bermudian spouses and children. These individuals are vital to the charitable sector’s future.

Bermuda’s immigration doctrine dates back, at the very least, to 1959 at the height of the baby-boomer generation. Back then, we needed to keep people out of Bermuda to protect the potential opportunities for our burgeoning population. Fast forward to today, the demographics have reversed, but the doctrine hasn’t.

We need to update our immigration policy to better serve Bermudians today and tomorrow.

- Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy

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Comments (44)

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  1. Trisha says:

    So maybe you have been bringing the wrong people, the Canadians dollar is lower than the american because Canada takes so many refugees each year, you need to stop bringing people the cry for humanitarian help. Bermuda need the people that will put their money here and invest it, not the one who come and send it to their country.

    • How about Bulgaria.

    • Fact Checker says:

      If you think the Canadian Dollar is lower than the USD because of refugees, you have little to no comprehension of global foreign exchange markets and I question your right to comment on anything requiring intellect. Research things before you randomly spit out incorrect facts.

    • BermyL says:

      Huh??? The Canadian dollar decrease has everything to do with oil interest rate differences with the US.

      4 people were brought in for purely humanitarian reasons the rest come here for work.

      I’m not sure what your message is. Care to explain?

    • Double S says:

      You think the fluctuations in FX rates is intrinsically linked to the number of refugees coming into Canada?

      That is hilarious and sad all at the same time.

    • jt says:

      “The Canadian dollar is lower than the American because Canada takes in so many refugees each year”

      What the he!! are you talking about?

  2. Trisha says:

    But we still want to know how these specific expats are helping Bermudians get a job? Because one of my friend just lost her job over a expat who does half retail and have payroll for 3 employees.

    • Zzzz says:

      If this is the case then either you or your friend need to report the matter to the Department of Immigration.

      There are systems in place to deal with abuse of the system and we as responsible Bermudians have a duty to report abuse.

      On balance expats make a positive contribution to the island a few bad apples should not be allowed to spoil the bunch. It is unfortunate but generally abuse of the system is facilitated by unscrupulous Bermudian business owners.

      • Blacklisted says:

        Let’s make it simple. After you speak to Immigration about your concerns it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you’re the person who made the complaint. Next time you apply for another job and use the company that you called Immigration on as a reference! What do you think the owners and HR managers will say to the new company where your making application when they check your reference? It’s called being blacklisted trust me when I say this it has happened to a few friends of mine.

      • Sickofantz says:

        Hi ZZZ can you explain to me why if these people are PRC already, they now need to be given status, when they have specifically signed a letter saying they don’t?

    • brad says:

      these expats are helping Bermudians get jobs by keeping international business in Bermuda. they are usually able to stay so long because they compete better. they have better qualifications, they work longer hours, they actually show up for work at all, they don’t complain about all the crap ignorant Bermudians put them through, because they like Bermuda and they care about their Bermudian friends.
      and they make their companies successful, so that their companies can continue to afford to hire Bermudians who don’t work as hard, or as long.

      it’s not rocket science. if we have no expats, our finance and tech companies won’t get the talent they need to stay in business, so they leave. when they leave, all the Bermudians who used to be employed by these companies no longer have jobs.

      conversely, if we allow expats to stay, we allow our finance and tech companies to stay and to grow, and to be successful. and all the Bermudians who have worked their asses off to get qualifications can have whatever job they want.

      and again, the more expats are in Bermuda, the more money is spent on rent, on cars, on hospitality, on groceries, on construction and all the other services. and this means the better all the support companies will do, which in turn means they will be able to employ more Bermudians.

      • Sickofantz says:

        But if these people are PRC already and they have signed a letter saying they won’t ever want status why is it necessary to give them status? Is it just deliberately trying to upset Bermudians. Please explain why it is necessary?

        • True Lies says:

          So we can vote and have a say in the country that we have lived in for 20 years. We pay duty and payroll tax, pay rent, buy goods/services, etc. We deserve a vote, especially those of us that witnessed the PLP drive out many of our friends. Please explain why that is difficult to understand?

          • Sickofantz says:

            But how does your having a vote improve the chance of Bermudians getting jobs and bring new businesses to Bermuda?

          • Bermudian says:

            WHY IS “”"WE”"”" NOT IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY? DOES IT SUCK SO BAD IN YOUR COUNTRY THAT YOU HAVE TO PLACE A DEMAND ON US BERMUDIANS? DON’T ALL THE WEEee SPEAK AT ONCE!

          • Ian says:

            You chose to be here. And what you pay in duty an taxes doesnt hold a candle to what you pay back home. You came here, got drunk on our world, got entitled and now you want our vote when you already have one in your country?! We dont owe you ANYTHING. And youre nobody’s victim so stop trying to convince yourselves otherwise. Where the hell you get off thinking you should have OUR VOTE in OUR COUNTRY?

    • wahoo says:

      That is what I was wondering so I went to the meeting but a bunch of people got up and started yelling a whole lotta noise so I could not ask my question…they were very rude.

      My friend just gotta job with one of the big exempt companies and they will help pay for her to take more classes so she can move up the ladder.

  3. Trimonious says:

    Senator, often it is *how* you do something that makes all the difference. I completely agree with you that this is correct and just from a human rights perspective. However, I believe you could be much more effective if you considered other people’s point of view more often. For example, in the article you begin with “when *i* announced…” This isn’t about you. You are a public servant who was appointed by elected officials. This is about “we”. It sounds like semantics but it will go a long way to soften the perceived egocentricity. The second example is how you say “there is no question” this is the right thing to do. Just saying that doesn’t make it true and ignores the valid concerns others in Bermuda have and address their fears. There *is* clearly some question about whether this is the right thing to do and others have articulated those questions (for example, this will likely introduce a disproportionate increase in new voters who would statistically be likely to vote OBA… This cannot be ignored given Bermuda’s history. It is a valid human right concern emanating from another valid human rights concern). I still completely agree with you that this pathway to citizenship is correct and just but if you want others to listen, the argument must allow for some empathy with those who do not agree.

    • True Lies says:

      So because you think you know how PRC’s will vote, that makes it ok to deny human rights? Maybe he should have said ‘there is no legitimate question’.

    • Truth (Original) says:

      please produce those statistics that you are referring to

  4. Its me again says:

    The concerns he answered are not the concerns of the average black bermudian.

    We want to know why in the 1960s and 1970s blacks from St kitts were not being allowed residence in this country.

    We want to know why the immigration policiy in those days represented the intrest of the white minority.

    Yes this was done years ago but this was one by the SAME PARTY! Dont let the red fool you these OBA folks are the same and represent the same interest of the UBP.

    We also want to know why 85 percent of these people who are elidgeble for status are white and why when the numbers where more evenly situated by race did the OBA/UBA make policy than?

    Why now after Andrew Simons got worked over by Diallo Rabain?

    Doest this all seem fishy?

    Answr those questions Fahy and Ill be fine with listening to your answers but until then the Black Bermudian will say “No No No”

    • wahoo says:

      St. Kitts? 1960s? WTF does that have to do with anything?

      How did it represent a white minority?

      In 2004 Diallo would have won by a bigger margin.

      UBP never took this island into debt and your situation only got worse under the plp.

      You bring up questions from 55 years ago but forget 1998- 2012 how convenient.

  5. John E. Thorne says:

    A very good outline as to why his initiatives are important to Bermuda and Bermudians.

  6. ALVIN WILLIAMS says:

    This from the man who told Bermudians that they have no birthright; it is clear where his interests lie and that is not on the side of the Bermudian.

    • Double S says:

      There is no birthright citizenship in Bermuda as there is in the USA.

      So he was absolutely right whether you agree or not.

    • Ed Case says:

      How ironic that you would say this Al. It is true that people born in Bermuda don’t have an automatic birthright – you can be insulted all you like and blame others for saying it – but it is absolutely 100% true. The pathway to status will CORRECT THIS.

      And you are against it. That makes you anti Bermudian. Or too blind to see how it will solve this issue.

    • Sickofantz says:

      What is birthright? Please explain?

    • Bermy for democracy says:

      Well I am as Bermudian as anyone and I would like to hear what has to be said. Why did your friends deny me the right to ask questions and hear answers the other night. It might be clearer where your interests lie.

    • Sickofantz says:

      I have looked up your use of the term ‘birthright’ and it usually means that the first born son in a family gets the greater share of his parents possessions. Is this what you mean?

      • duh says:

        he means receiving Bermudian citizenship for no other reason than being born in Bermuda, regardless of the nationality of one’s parents.

    • jt says:

      So funny. So you feel those born in Bermuda automatically have a “Bermudian birthright”?
      Who knew? Alvin Williams is prepared to grant status to even more people than the PLP or the OBA!!
      You’re a free thinking humanitarian Alvin. I admire your progressive views.

  7. Young Bermudian says:

    Let’s be clear…we know the there is an Emigration of qualified Bermudians that have left the island. Let’s discuss how to get them back to the island first.

    Secondly,whenever population management has been discussed in the past it has been about exporting slaves to the West Indies or through sterilization or implementing other birth control methods to the black population. Research in past newspapers will highlight these facts. So take a moment to understand the pot of water you have stepped into with this discussion Minister Fahy. Learn from the past so that your new policy is sensitive to the mistakes of colonial Bermuda.

    Thirdly, let’s talk about the short, medium and long-term impacts (not just economically please). A policy that fails to address the concerns of the common Bermudian will always seem forced.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      Oh, I thought you were going to discuss getting those Bermudians to come back first? Easier said than done. That would be a long term assignment which should be worked on but let’s deal with an achievable outcome right now. Long term residents are here. Some will choose to stay some will not. Let’s encourage the ones that would like to stay to stay.

  8. history says:

    To Brad above who states :- (they compete better. they have better qualifications, they work longer hours, they actually show up for work at all, they don’t complain about all the crap ignorant Bermudians put them through, because they like Bermuda )

    Go back to wherever you come from and F—off !!

    • Sally says:

      History- it sure sounds like Brad struck a nerve there. Judging by your last comment , it appears you lack sensibility, education and manners.

    • brad says:

      i’m a Bermudian too you racist

      just because you don’t know how to work for a living doesn’t mean everyone else must suffer your fate.

  9. average Bermudian says:

    Who is this guy fahy and what are his bermuda roots ,if any?????

    Enquiry minds want to know

  10. Ian says:

    And I will say it again. Michael Fahy, point blank you’re an arrogant, deluded, egomaniacal hatchet man for the OBA/UBP. You’re a dream come true for folks who were granted status on a discretionary basis, never fully integrated into the Bermuda lived by average real Bermudians, and planned/prayed for the day they would have one of their own calling the shots in my country. You somehow believe “lawyering” your way through everything you attempt to shove down our throats somehow prevents us from seeing the blatant method and pattern in the actions of your government, largely executed by you furthermore. Congratulations for your brazen approach to “sticking to the game plan” through your subsequent stabs at playing people on this island for a bunch of fools. You have single handling worsened relations on this island along racial, national and socioeconomic lines to levels we haven’t seen since the 60s. I hear a lot of rhetoric these days as a result of your actions that is nothing short troubling. Hope you’re proud of yourself in the event the proverbial crap hits the fan.

  11. Support common sense policies says:

    Bermuda is in a global competition for capital (both human and financial). Companies need to employ the best people to run their business to stay in business. Bermuda walks a very, very fine line in encouraging companies to employ locals and not suffocating companies with too restrictive policies.

    The current government is trying its very best with common sense policies to rescue the sinking ship. PLP is exclusively playing the race card (the only card they have) and don’t give a sh*t about where the country is going.

    Guys, this is not about race, this is not about who has a few more voters, who wins the next election. This is about how to avoid a total disaster that the PLP has (almost) brought upon Bermuda.

    Do you want folks that have contributed to BDA for many years and continue to sustain the current economy to stay here, invest their (sometimes very substantial) live savings here in Bermuda or do you want them (including me) to leave (we have and exercise options…). You may want to visit Haiti before you suggest expats should exodus Bermuda!…

    • Sickofantz says:

      So are you saying you will leave if you don’t get your vote?

      • Support common sense policies says:

        I don’t care about voting – I care about Bermuda. But if the schizophrenic, only race focused, entitlement spoilt, with a unwarranted pride and tunnel vision limited “sons of the soil” (and this includes white folks) sink this island and continue to be hostile toward the companies and individuals that fund the island I will certainly not be the last one that is left on the rock to switch the light off. As much as I love Bermuda I can’t ignore the responsibility that I have for my family.

        I know that BDA is politically in a nightmare situation due to racial injustices in the past and present and the unfair distribution of wealth, education and opportunity but forward looking policy making has to totally ignore racial aspects and purely focus on what is best for the county. OBA is trying its best in this respect. I wish a more common sense fraction of the PLP would split off to form a new party and a more credible opposition.

    • Ian says:

      We already know how Bermuda contributed to your well beings so you can take your one-side world view of the Bermuda/expat dynamic and shove it… We dont owe you ANYTHING.

  12. Pravda says:

    Collaboration with the PLP would have been a very smart move on something as important as this. It is not too late to be smart.