Recap Of 2016 Throne Speech Initiatives

November 7, 2016

[Written by Don Burgess]

If you like slowing down speeders, giving dads paternity leave; and ensuring seniors aren’t discriminated in employment, then the 2016 Speech from the Throne could delight you.

Overseas students could also celebrate as they said that absentee balloting will be introduced before the upcoming General Election.

The Speech also emphasized that Bermudians must come first in employment and chronic disease problems must be dealt with to stem the rising cost of healthcare.

Bermuda’s Acting Governor Ginny Ferson gave her first Throne Speech.

She said: “As a daughter, a mother and a wife I welcome the initiatives in this speech aimed at supporting families. There is good work already underway in Bermuda but I believe there is still scope for more sharing of best practice and ensuring a joined-up approach to complex societal issues such as child safeguarding and domestic violence.”

Slideshow of this morning’s Throne Speech:

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The Throne Speech emphasized four key themes for the coming year:

  • Caring for seniors and the needy
  • Safeguarding neighbourhoods and reducing traffic accidents
  • Locking in transparency and the accountability; and
  • Generating opportunities to help Bermudians make the most of their lives.

The Acting Governor said: “The overall goal is to enhance quality of life across the board and to build an island that meets people’s needs and supports their aspirations.”

She pointed out that the economy is recovering with the retail sector having grown 18 of the last 19 months; that Gross Domestic Product has six straight quarters of growth; Hotel developments are underway or about to break ground; air arrivals are on track to record the biggest number since 2008; and revenues exceeded spending in the first half of 2016.

One of the keys to the continued recovery in 2017 will be the introduction of a progressive payroll tax to “ease the pressures on lower income earners.”

The healthcare system will get a revamp over the next few years to provide basic healthcare at “the right care at the right time, in the right setting at the right price” for people.

A large part of this will rely on curtailing chronic non-communicable diseases, which are the leading cause of death in Bermuda.

The Acting Governor said: “Three in four adults are overweight or obese, which leads to long-term medical problems that not only debilitate the individual but also impose serious cost burdens on the health system. Lower-income individuals who lack access to appropriate care are the most seriously affected. The situation often leads to revolving door hospitalizations and inappropriate use of emergency services.”

The Premier’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition will be used to help combat children from starting on the wrong track.

90-minute replay of the CITV broadcast of the Throne Speech

A Long Term Care Action Plan will be introduced to meet seniors and people with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities. Government will strengthen regulation of care homes as a priority.

Government will develop a plan to help seniors afford appropriate home renovations.

With the backdrop of Canada set to decriminalize cannabis next year and California expected to overwhelmingly expect to vote in favour of recreational marijuana use on Tuesday, Government will consult with respect to the decriminalization for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The Acting Governor added: “To that end, Government reforms will preserve police powers to confiscate cannabis and to test whether road users are under the influence of cannabis. These reforms will complement our efforts to educate our youth about the dangerous effects of drug use, balancing the need to reduce the consumption of cannabis while avoiding the unnecessary criminalization of our young people.”

Medically, Government will consider allowing the importation of herbal supplements, which contain Cannabinol to allow for more options for treatment.

In Education, public school children will not be promoted to the next grade level unless they have earned it. Government will also increase scholarship opportunities for post-secondary studies. And will the world having a growing dependence on computers, a plan of action will be produced to improve the quality and prevalence of in-school Information Technology.

Government will look at ways to protect seniors against age discrimination in employment.

Legislation will be tabled to transform the Co-Parenting Mediation Council to the Family Mediation Council.

Artists will benefit as Government will support the participation in the 2017 Carifesta mega arts festival in Barbados.

The Salvation Army emergency housing shelter on North Street will be replaced when Government helps renovate the Bishop Spencer property.

Those seeking employment will benefit when a community services coordinator will be added to the Department of Financial Assistance to help unemployed person find work. In addition, Employers will have to confirm a work permit candidate meets minimum requirements for certification and secures the Department of Workforce Development authorization before any permit is granted and penalties for infractions and non-compliance will be strengthened to the National Training Plan.

A National Cultural Heritage Policy will be developed to help promote self-esteem amongst Bermudians.

The Ministry of National Security will re-engage Operation Ceasefire to conduct an intensive review of Bermuda’s anti-gang initiatives. In addition, to help stem gun violence, Government will add more qualified firearm officers to the ranks of the Police Service.

The Acting Governor said “Government will extend the effort to combat anti-social behaviour and violent crime to licensed liquor establishments, which often act as magnets for such activity. Accordingly, consultations will be held with the Senior Magistrate and the Bermuda Police Service for amendments to the Liquor Licensing Act to enhance the powers of a senior police officer to temporarily suspend a liquor license when warranted.”

If you’re an adult who allows minors alcohol in your home or elsewhere, Government will introduce legislation that will make you liable for your actions.

Government will study parental leave to include maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

She said the longstanding problem of parents being in arrears for child payments “needs to be resolved for the sake of children disadvantaged by parental obligations not met.”

The Acting Governor added Government will table a framework for Fair Debt Collection Practices which will introduce rules on “debt collection activities such as the time collection calls can be made, restrictions on how and to whom debts are communicated and prohibitions on deceptive, threatening and abusive collection tactics.”

Rent Control will also be examined and amendments to legislation will be made to address deposits, progressive enforcement, repairs, tenancy rights for boarding house residents and other areas where the Act is silent.”

In addition to the already announced 16 scheduled cruise ship calls to St. George’s and 23 to Hamilton, Government is in talks to extend the season at Dockyard.

The National Parks Act will be amended to provide opportunities to entrepreneurs to enhance the beach going experience by providing more services.

Government will introduce speed cameras and set up roadside testing for alcohol reduce the number of road fatilities.

Bermuda’s minibus industry will get more regulation to enhance service.

She said the debate on the new airport will be brought forward.

Acting Governor Fersun was full of praise as the upcoming America’s Cup events include not only the finals in June but the Qualifier Series, the Challenger Series, the Semi-Finals, a Super Yacht Regatta, a J Class Regatta and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.

The second phase of telecom reform will be debated with an emphasis on modernizing broadcasting policy, legislation and regulations.

During this coming Parliamentary session, the Legislature will be asked to consider:

  • Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act 1998 to facilitate reporting of suspicious activity in relation to tax evasion,
  • The Bribery Act 2016 to establish a National Anti-Corruption and Bribery Committee with provisions to uphold the highest standards against persons using bribery or allowing themselves to be bribed, and
  • The Fraud Act 2016 to broaden the scope of fraudulent activity in keeping with a global definition more conducive to apprehending the sophisticated strategies being employed by today’s criminals.

New amendments will also be created to include new offences relating to misconduct in public office and requiring all public officials – Ministers, members of the Legislature, public servants to declare in writing any outside interests they or close family members may have; To ensure compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, Government will push for the adoption of a Code of Conduct for members of the Legislature. At present, only Government Ministers and Public Servants are subject to codes of conduct.

The voting act will be changed to allow for students studying overseas and voters abroad for medical treatment to vote in advance by absentee ballots. The Acting Governor said: “It is expected this inclusive measure will be in place before the next General Election.”

Leigislation to settle dormant bank accounts long abandoned by owners will be tabled. She said: “The objective is either to reunite unclaimed money with original owners or, failing that, to have the money invested in the community through measures such as grants and loans.”

Government will introduce a Green Paper to identify ways to reduce the use of, and the toxic effects of, plastics on the Island as well as in the surrounding waters. In addition, the Ministry will continue to take measures to protect the environment from invasive species such as the Lionfish.

West End residents should be happy that White Hill Field will be turned into a first class sports facility. This initiative will follow a recent contract award for the construction of bathroom facilities at the field.

Other infrastructure upgrades and plans include:

  • Build and upgrade restrooms at public beaches to support the development of the beach economy,
  • Continue the sale of surplus government property, generating a diverse range of opportunities for local residents and an estimated $10 million in revenue to government over the next three years,
  • Support the growth and sustainment of small businesses by ensuring that an appropriate amount of contracts or subcontracts for construction, maintenance and repairs are placed with small businesses, and
  • Demolish the old Devonshire Recycling Facility on Devon Spring Road and transform the site into a community playground.

click here Bermuda 2016 Throne Speech 1

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  1. BS on any other day is still BS, Bermudians have been waiting a hell of a long time to be put first, and what is the likely hood of that happening under this administration who has more foreigners working in their private establishments and not to mention their private homes.

    Job’s for Bermudian’s that they promised is a far off joke, affordability to our living expenses and wages are still a far cry, spending money like drunken sailors and making investments to the America’s cup and giving away our airport to Foreigners, well that makes our future so secure.

    The very fact that they are still using the P.L.P as the fault finding excuse to why we are still were we are, because they are not making the progress they promised, is a weak ass excuse for leadership.

    Politic’s , Politric’s , A joke to say the least, Maybe Bermuda needs 40 Independent politicains to really turn this ship in the right directions, because the old U.B.P just ain’t doing it under the Old Boring Association.

    Give us the people what we want as a people, because if we don’t get it, the protest on the hill will only look like a dress rehearsal for when this Island really get’s brought to it’s knees.

    Yes we can do it without violence, because we know how to survive without your riches, but you can not last a week, when hit in the pocket, imagine a month of shutting this whole thing down, from the International sector through every Establishment, you sit up and pay attention.