Health Minister: Achievements In Past Year

July 27, 2018 | 4 Comments

Legislation to introduce a Sugar Tax, providing local radiation therapy coverage for HIP and FutureCare clients, the Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Amendment Bill, establishment of an obesity and diabetes framework, and creating Child Care Standards were some of the Ministry’s achievements in the past year, Minister of Health Kim Wilson said

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [July 27] Minister Wilson said, “I rise today to provide for this Honourable House and the listening public highlights of my Ministry’s achievements in the past year of the Progressive Labour Party Government.

“Legislation to introduce a Sugar Tax is the most recent accomplishment, with the new regime to increase duty on sugar, candies and sugary drinks in October of this year.

“In addition, the Government committed to provide local radiation therapy coverage for HIP and FutureCare clients. This was accomplished promptly in October 2017, demonstrating our commitment to improve access to life-saving treatments for Bermuda’s residents.

“The Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Amendment Bill was passed in December 2017, which improved the regulatory framework for care homes to improve standards of care.

“This legislation had not been updated substantially for nearly 20 years, so upgrades were well overdue. However, as we well know, legislation alone is not enough, and my team then went on to develop and publish the Code of Practice for Care Homes, which sets the minimum standards for the operation of care homes.

“I must also highlight the establishment of an obesity and diabetes framework, following the Symposium held in January 2018by the Department of Health.

“My Ministry also showed its commitment to Bermuda’s health and wellbeing by creating Child Care Standards to protect children in day care.

“The new Child Care Standards educate providers and parents on what is safe and expected in child care settings. They provide guidance on child care and ensure our children are given the best start in life.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker

I rise today to provide for this Honourable House and the listening public highlights of my Ministry’s achievements in the past year of the Progressive Labour Party Government.

To begin, Mr Speaker, I wish to highlight the completion of a number of 2017 Throne Speech initiatives over the past year.

Legislation to introduce a Sugar Tax is the most recent accomplishment, with the new regime to increase duty on sugar, candies and sugary drinks in October of this year.

The Throne Speech committed the Government to begin a consultation for the introduction of a sugar tax, but my Ministry and the Ministry of Finance together were able to exceed this expectation and put the tax in place following a lively public consultation and dialogue on its introduction.

Importantly, the legislation allows for local producers of food to be exempted from the tax. This means local vendors like bakers, snow ball stands and so on, won’t be impacted. In fact, local food producers are better off, because the new concession can be used to purchase their equipment as well, not just the sugar.

However, the initiative contributes to the Government’s commitment to incentivise the public to choose healthier options in order to battle Bermuda’s overweight and obesity problem.

Mr Speaker

In addition, the Government committed to provide local radiation therapy coverage for HIP and FutureCare clients. This was accomplished promptly in October 2017, demonstrating our commitment to improve access to life-saving treatments for Bermuda’s residents.

The Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Amendment Bill was passed in December 2017, which improved the regulatory framework for care homes to improve standards of care.

This legislation had not been updated substantially for nearly 20 years, so upgrades were well overdue. However, as we well know, legislation alone is not enough, and my team then went on to develop and publish the Code of Practice for Care Homes, which sets the minimum standards for the operation of care homes.

The Code of Practice states clearly for providers, residents and the families, what the mandatory requirements are, the criteria homes need to uphold, and guidance on how to meet the standards. These new requirements serve to provide further safeguards for those in care, whether seniors or disabled.

Importantly, the Code of Practice includes the Bill of Rights for Persons in Care. These are fundamental rights deserved by any person in a care setting. They commit providers to treating persons with dignity and respect.

The Code of Practice for Care Homes is available on the gov.bm web site.

Mr Speaker

I must also highlight the establishment of an obesity and diabetes framework, following the Symposium held in January 2018by the Department of Health.

This Throne Speech initiative was born from the Government’s recognition that our community must take drastic action to reduce habits that lead to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

These chronic diseases are all preventable with healthy eating, active living and maintaining a healthy weight. Of course, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are also vital lifestyle choices to avoid these conditions that plague Bermuda and have pushed our health costs to the brink.

The Obesity and Diabetes Symposium harvested many commitments from a broad range of community organizations that will help Bermuda halt the rise in obesity and diabetes.

Mr Speaker

On the matter of health costs, I stress that although the standard premium rate was increased by 6.4% this year, this was not due to any fee increases.

We have been accused of reneging on our promise to contain healthcare costs, but I think all informed parties understand very well that the 6.4% rise in the standard premium was due to increased use of services in the previous year. That is utilization that could not have been prevented by this Government.

Going forward, we have demonstrated our commitment to containing health costs by not increasing standard benefit fees, in particular for the largest provider: the hospital. And, rather, we have undertaken the difficult work to modernize BHB’s fees to be based on an international standard of relative value units with a local conversion factor.

This work is in its final stages and will be brought to the House in the fall, showing our commitment to our Throne Speech initiative to review healthcare costs.

Finally, Mr Speaker, my Ministry also showed its commitment to Bermuda’s health and wellbeing by creating Child Care Standards to protect children in day care.

The new Child Care Standards educate providers and parents on what is safe and expected in child care settings. They provide guidance on child care and ensure our children are given the best start in life.

The years from birth to 3 years are an extremely important stage in life when a critical amount of brain development occurs, which has a profound impact on a child’s future; on their learning abilities and their behaviour. During these critical years, any one caring for children, whether parents or formal child care providers, play a vital role. The Child Care Standards provide guidance to ensure safe and healthy development for our children.

The Child Care Standards were put together with input from a wide range of local child care professionals, and are available on the gov.bm web site.

Mr Speaker

Before closing I want to acknowledge the good work of the previous administration, which established some great initiatives that we are happy to continue, such as the review of the mental health act and the Long Term Care Action Plan. And they also advanced many initiatives that were started under the previous PLP Government, such as FutureCare and the Bermuda Health Strategy, which have become central parts of our health system.

This shows that bi-partisan agreement and collaboration serves to achieve the country’s best interest and is an effective way to bring about long-term improvements in health and healthcare for Bermuda. I definitely look forward to continuing collaboration because, ultimately, I know we share the same vision for Healthy People in Healthy Communities.

And, lastly, Mr Speaker, I want to end on a happy note to wish all of Bermuda a healthy Cup Match holiday.

Without wanting to rain on the parade, Mr Speaker, I do have to pause and remind us all that drunk driving and sexual indiscretions increase dramatically during any public holiday. We relax, over-indulge and take risks… Risks that can cost us our life, Mr Speaker.

Accidents go up during any public holiday, and visits to the Communicable Disease Clinic go up immediately after such holidays. So let us take heed of past experience and celebrate this Emancipation Day by freeing ourselves of thoughtless decisions that hurt us and our families.

I wish everyone a happy Cup Match of healthy choices!

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Click here banner of health related matters 3

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. redrose says:

    Accomplishments to date – increased health care costs and introduced a sugar tax with no mention of how much money will be ringfenced for health initiatives as promised ..

  2. What about the NATIONAL DEBT says:

    Ministers.

    Can you please give a report on the progress made to date in reducing the country’s national debt please?

  3. Synch says:

    Increasing the cost of medical imaging in Bermuda. A few of their supporters seemed very excited to see that.

  4. I would see energy drinks banned asap , red bull… it is on our shelves…why is that?
    Seriously…how can this occure?
    More importantly…and this is fundimental too…why haven’t we signed the United Nations human rights Accord?
    Apparently other island dependant territories have…why haven’t we?
    I want human rights and I want them NOW!

Leave a Reply