‘Insurance Is Necessary For Dangers We Face’

June 12, 2019

The Prison Officers Association “have the full support of the Bermuda Police Association,” the BPA said today, with the BPA noting that while most people can run from danger – their job requires them to run towards it — so “health insurance is necessary for the dangers we are expected to face.”

The Bermuda Police Association said, “We have been asked to comment on the recent public statements made concerning the Bermuda Police Association [BPA] and its Conditions of Service. These statements were reportedly made as a result of the current impasse between the Government of Bermuda [the Government] and the Prison Officers Association [POA].

“It is our view that Correction Officers are distinctly similar to police officers. We understand their struggle. The men and women of the POA have the full support of the BPA.

“We can confirm that the BPA has the same Government Health Insurance Benefit [GEHI] as the POA. To be clear, this benefit does not extend to our family members as recently reported. The benefit stops once the member retires. Government is now seeking to confiscate this benefit from us.

“We urge the Government to reconsider taking such a stance. Such a position would not be in the best interest of the public and would have a negative effect on how we carry out our duties.

“Every day the members of the BPA and POA put their life on the line to ensure Bermuda is safe. We are prepared to die for this country. It is only fair that if we happen to be lucky enough to survive, that our medical care is taken care of. It is this assurance that causes us to step in the face of danger without fear, while others are running away.

“In the same way that our vehicles require sirens and lights to respond to calls for service in the expected time, our health insurance is necessary for the dangers we are expected to face.

“For example; it is our duty to enter a house and arrest a suspect who is armed with a gun and has just committed a heinous crime, in so doing, would it be fair for us to bear the cost of our medical care if we are shot? We are of the view that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that the police officers who are serving the public are of the best health.

“An unhealthy police officer can be a danger to the public; hence, the affordability of the individual officer to pay health insurance should not be a factor in public safety. Consequently, our current benefit should not be changed. The public of Bermuda deserves a healthy Police and Correction Service.

“On the 7th of June, 2019 in the House of Assembly the Minister for National Security, Hon. Minister Caines made some unfortunate comments concerning our Health Insurance Benefit. He asked the question ‘What it is like to be fair for everyone?’. He mentioned that only two Government entities have this benefit and suggested that it should not continue.

“We asked the Minister the question, is it fair that those same Government workers can run away from danger, while the Police and Prisons have to run towards it? It is worth noting that in some instances if a police officer runs away from danger, he/she could be subject to discipline or criminal charges. Is that fair?

“We say it is currently fair that we have to run to danger while others are entitled to run away because of our health benefit. If that is taken away from us, then we should be allowed to run away as well. The question then would be who would keep the public safe if that’s the case. The bottom line is that the health insurance benefit is required to keep Bermuda safe.

“We strongly ask the Government to sit down with the POA and try to find a way forward to end the impasse, instead of trying to shoehorn them into arbitration. We are concerned that the role we now play as a result of the impasse is negatively impacting the welfare of our members and cannot be sustained.“

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Comments (16)

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  1. 2 Bermudas says:

    This is the biggest load of BS I’ve ever read.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    Well, it looks like the POA (and the BPA) want to negotiate terms of service in the press rather than at the negotiating table. If I represented the Government I would walk away from the negotiating table because of such tactics and not return until the POA was ready to deal in good faith.

  3. CHRIS says:

    THANK YOU all for your service. Please know the majority of taxpayers know the risks of your jobs and have NO PROBLEM paying your health coverage. It’s the entitled PLP lot who seem to think taxing you will make up for their mismanagement of our finances in other areas. Please remember this when it’s voting time again!

  4. Hopeful says:

    I agree that the police and corrections officers of our country have dangerous and very stressful jobs. I thank both departments for their service. I, however, do not agree that the medical insurance BENEFIT should continue being paid by their employer, the Government. Government are not implying that the corrections officers will not have medical insurance they are simply requesting that the corrections officers share in paying for their medical insurance like any other Government employee.
    I want to add that firefighters of our country also have dangerous and stressful jobs, but they DO NOT have the BENEFIT of not paying for their medical insurance. As I write, I hear the sirens of the Fire truck! Firefighters run into burning buildings whilst we the public run away. They are first responders on the scene of many faceted incidents. They are also trained EMTs dealing with trauma all of the time. Their demanding/stressful job takes both a physical and mental toll on them. The firefighters have medical insurance but they PAY FOR IT like most Government employees.
    With great respect to the corrections officers and police officers of our country, you have the benefit of not paying for your medical insurance, but please know that this benefit is not an entitlement.

    • Portia says:

      It absolutely IS an entitlement. If the firefighters do not have their medical coverage paid for it is because they have not negotiated for it. I strongly urge them to demand it. If you are putting life and limb on the line every day your employer should be paying for it!

      There are some exempt companies that cover health insurance 100% for senior executives. Yet our police and prison officers who do our dirty work and protect us do not deserve the same? How is that fair? Prison officers do not get paid that well, it is not a six-figure job. They are also forced to retire at 55 and how many companies are willing to take a 55 year old who is burnt out and only knows the prison system? Covering their health insurance allows them to save that little extra money for the future when they need it.

      • 2 Bermudas says:

        I strongly urge you to look up the compensation packages for NYC police officers. Bermuda truly is another world!!

    • And there it is says:

      Well said! There should be no negotiations on this especially in the media!

  5. Beware the False Equivalency says:

    Emegency personnel face health risks not found in administrative positions. Office staff are more likely to make health claims for illness or injury not caused by the job (eg diseases unrelated to work). Where there is a work related injury, regular employees can sue for the additional expenses if the injury is deemed to be the employers fault.

    I can accept that desk based personnel working for emergency services are at no greater risk to injury and therefore should receive benefits comparable to other government departments.

    However comparing police officers, firefighters, and prison officers to office workers is not logical or fair.

    Emergency service personnel should be separated into operational and non operational staff.

    Operational staff should include anyone who is required to put himself or herself in danger as part of their job, and only they should continue to receive complete medical coverage.

    I would also suggest that for staff to be classifued as operational and receive this benefit, they must spend a specified amount of time on duty each year in an operational role, and not just be available if needed.

    And more importantly I would only allow staff to be classified as operational if they passed an annual fitness test, proving they are fit for duty.

    This would ensure Bermuda taxpayers are receiving maximum benefit for the cost.

  6. question says:

    elections have consequences. The PLP have no intention of making life less expensive for anyone.

  7. Sparrow says:

    So the honorable Minister of National Security wants to open up this can of worms? If this happens, expect many to quit for the private sector. Expect fire arms officers to down their weapons. Everyone should have medical insurance, but those in Emergency Services should not have to worry about their coverage – period. “oh look, two masked men are robbing a store…I better step back because I can’t afford to get shot or stabbed”

    • 2 Bermudas says:

      So should the landscaper not step on another step ladder (dangerous!!)
      because they have to pay half their health insurance?! Get real!! Nobody is saying they will not go without health insurance! Instead, why can’t these professionals pay their half just like everyone else?!

      • Right?! says:

        @ 2 Bermudas as if they also didn’t take a oath to perform those duties. Last I checked the oath doesn’t specify insurance. They knowledgeably signed up for the dangerous job and now expect us to cover the insurance for it. I’m all for injury comp but not for general dentist visits… I’m a landscaper as well, using dangerous machinery in sometimes sketchy situations. Don’t hear us crying about it. We knew what we signed on for…

        • watcher says:

          You are absolutely right the BPS and POA officers knew exactly what they were signing up for which was a job that covered full medical benefits, its in their conditions of service and contracts. gov’t are now trying to move the goal posts, and it is not just paying their half it is also the co-pay so should an officer be stabbed or shot on duty they could be liable for half of the medical bills for their treatment and recovery. How possibly can that be fair or right for those who run towards trouble while others are running away. Watch Jon Stewarts recent speech at congress on his support for the NYPD officers.

    • Um.... says:

      Quit and go where? There are that many private security firms or prisons? This is entitlement. Whether is was bargained for or not. If everyone is being asked to sacrifice because of the economic times then you can’t have a group that is not. Regardless of their job.

      No one was conscripted into the police, prisons, or fire service. In fact, there were applicants who were/are qualified but were rejected simply due to the number of vacancies available. If we needed 100 police officers tomorrow, we’d have at least 80 applicants who are qualified who would apply. And that doesn’t mean 80 unemployed persons either.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Sparrow, no is suggesting that anyone have their health insurance taken away or that anyone should “have to worry about their coverage”. The only suggestion is that prison officers make a contribution of a few hundred dollars per month toward the cost of their (GEHI) health insurance.

      For the record, the current rate of contribution to GEHI is slightly more than $400 per month.