OBA Press Conference: Ball, Kempe, Brunson

September 25, 2020

The OBA held another press conference yesterday [Sept 24], with candidates Vic Ball, Catherine Kempe, and Jon Brunson all delivering remarks.

Vic Ball’s remarks:

The real measure of a good society is the government’s ability to provide decent, affordable health care, a healthy environment and to protect its most vulnerable.

Indeed, the term ‘vulnerability of small states’ is one increasingly mentioned as countries like ours face threats from external, but real factors which see Bermuda facing more hurricanes, seeing changes to our sea life and general degradation of environments.

It is called climate change.

Sadly, too many Bermudians are currently faced with critical illnesses and they are beginning to lose hope as they struggle to survive. Many are beginning to question what is good about our Island as they lose hope and optimism.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that public healthcare and an effective social support system are matters of national security and the highest economic priority. In this respect, the Burt administration has failed.

Social provisions have moved on from just medical care. They also include wellness, healthy environments, ‘greening’ and more than basic support to prevent persons from falling through the cracks.

The OBA intends to provide a social platform that involves a properly regulated health care system that is affordable and efficient. We intend to provide the best small-island environment that emphasises the incorporation of green practices and sustainable development. We will enhance the promotion of physical and mental health. In addition, we will provide education on healthy consumption and a comprehensive support system for individuals and families.

Our aim is to have an equitable and socially just sector that is informed by data. No one should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford it. No one should be denied support for daily living because the government cannot afford it.

To achieve this goal, it will require extensive discussions and deep collaboration with all parties, private and public, particularly the insurance, medical professionals and those in the pharmaceutical discipline.

The OBA’s competence in the firm management of the economy is an overriding component in delivering the necessary social contract with the people. Our inclusive, consensus approach – as opposed to PLP’s arrogant and high-handed bullying – is also vital.

Before my colleague’s address healthcare and wellness, as well as our plans to protect our most vulnerable citizens, I would like to address another vital area: the environment.

The vulnerability of small island states is increasingly becoming a glaring reality due to environmental damage. Climate change and other impacts must be now factored in, as matters of policy, into every possible aspect of our planning.

Our environment is one of our greatest resources and it needs to be protected for future generations. Sustainable development must become more than a catchphrase or sound bite – it must reinforce the treatment of our natural environment. The OBA will demonstrate its commitment to that with the introduction of low impact inputs, including renewable energy components, that improve efficiency and combat environmental destruction.

We must also position our people and Island to benefit from the immense potential of the green and blue economies.

The OBA will:

  • Position Bermuda as a world green centre, working with BIOS [Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences], promoting it as a global leader for marine studies and as a leader in the green and climate change movements with a think tank and annual conferences.
  • Create well-designed policies that will strengthen social protection and support green investments that are financially viable and conducive to economic growth.
  • Create new markets by stimulating demand for green technologies, goods and services. This is intended to create new job opportunities.
  • Implement a community fish market, to assist fisherman with sales and make enforcement easier for fisheries officers.
  • Properly fund the fishery wardens and change legislation to ensure prosecution of those who violate environmental legislation.
  • Introduce legislation to first reduce and then eliminate single-use plastics.
  • Work closely with farmers to maximize their ability to utilize existing zoned agricultural land and consider tax incentives, payroll tax exemptions and planning changes to stimulate the local food production market. This would include:
    • Providing vertical farming loans and hydroponic farming support to entrepreneurs
    • Providing land tax reductions for food production gardens at our homes in proportion to land used for these gardens
    • Enhancing planning laws and making necessary amendments to make agricultural production as easy as possible
    • Re-examining cannabis growing legislation to ensure that any legalisation would provide real entrepreneurial opportunities
    • Supporting sustainable fish and shellfish farming

Thank You

Catherine Kempe’s Healthcare & Wellness remarks:

Healthcare costs have spiralled over the last two decades in Bermuda, changing from a system that was affordable to the majority of Bermudians to the second largest household expenditure each month.

Healthcare in Bermuda has become a business for many, rather than the service that healthcare professionals intended it to be when they entered into this field.

Healthcare in Bermuda is a complex system of piecemeal legislation and outdated models that need to be addressed in order to ensure a fair and equitable healthcare system with universal care coverage for all.

The changes to healthcare must look at the healthcare delivery systems, the costs of delivery, the makeup of our population, tackling chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure, with a long term focus on dieting, exercise, mental care and continual engagement of our seniors to stimulate their minds and keep them active.

The OBA believes that all Bermudians should have access to affordable, high quality healthcare.

Healthcare costs need to be fully transparent and linked to the quality and outcomes that we are receiving from our healthcare providers.

The OBA is committed to working with all stakeholders on healthcare reform with the interests of all Bermudians in mind. Bermudians need to be part of the collective process to control the Island’s healthcare costs.

The OBA will also:

  • Ensure that every Bermudian has health insurance coverage that is evidenced-based, managed by independent professionals and not by the Government as per the Burt administration’s proposed, but now on hold, unified scheme.
  • Implement a “Unique Patient Identifier” [UPI] for everyone in Bermuda. This will ensure that everyone has coverage, reduce duplication of services and drive down the cost of health care for all. It will assist in services being streamlined and have a true figure of those that are uninsured or underinsured to develop solutions to reduce this figure.
  • Create a National Physical Fitness Programme to encourage well-being, sound health, exercise, and personal diet, from primary school throughout life.
  • Enact a Health Bill of Rights so all Bermudians understand their health insurance coverage, even if sourced through their employer, and what exactly they are paying for both out-of-pocket and through insurance.
    • This bill of rights will also include the right to certain information such as your physician’s credentials, complaints against healthcare providers and the health outcomes from your provider.
    • Educating patients and consumers will allow them to vote with their feet and with their wallets for high-value plans and providers.
  • Work with healthcare providers to ensure that healthcare reform results in improved health and more affordable healthcare.
  • Allow supplemental health insurance coverage to move with employees who change jobs.
  • Legislate that insurance plans that offer mental health coverage must cover it as they do medical coverage and not discriminate or offer lesser coverage for mental health services.
  • Introduce mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions on policies above and beyond the government legislated plans
  • Ensure that children can stay on their parents’ health policy until at least the age of 25, regardless of whether the child is still a student.
  • Ensure funding for Bermudians to enter the healthcare field for employment, thus improving employment opportunities for Bermudians and reducing our dependency on work permit holders in healthcare.
  • Provide additional assistance to those who, for whatever reason, simply cannot afford insurance.
  • Introduce a programme that specifically targets non-communicable diseases underpinned with food cost reductions for healthy living.

Thank You.

Jon Brunson’s Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Citizens remarks:

The OBA’s mission is to provide as much support as possible to the vulnerable in our society in a way that ensures their dignity and pride remains intact.

The very first input in this is by leading economically prudent decisions that will maintain confidence in our country.

The reality is, unless there is a strong economy, everything else fails – and the most vulnerable feel this most.

Seniors, for instance, do not want loans at the age of 70.

The OBA believes that there must be the necessary guardianship of the hard work and worth of our seniors by protecting their earnings and incomes.

The only way to do that is with strong economic hands.

The OBA will offer a combination of legal provisions, direct support, community interaction, training and partnerships, the ultimate aim of which is to provide our people with the support, practical and emotional, tools and life skills to advance them from welfare to wealth.

Much of the assistance to the vulnerable comes from private individuals and the Third Sector – community and charitable organisations – and these will be fully engaged in the development of a comprehensive and flexible approach to assisting our vulnerable.

The OBA will:

  • Ensure the protection of seniors remains a top priority in light of our aging population, including matching the social insurance pension benefits for seniors to the cost of living, to ensure seniors don’t lose ground.
  • Establish a Seniors Advocate Office to protect the interests and needs of seniors.
  • Invest greater resources for social insurance enforcement to ensure that employers meet their required obligations for their employees’ pension contributions.
  • Promote the construction of transitional living residences for seniors.
  • Extend the renewal of driver’s licensing requirements, raising the age when seniors need a medical exam and driving test for renewal of their licence from 65 to 70.
  • Introduce mandatory training for teachers and community workers to detect child abuse.
  • Ensure that mandatory counselling is required for those convicted of violent or sexual offences as part of parole requirements.
  • Ensure that all allegations of child abuse reported to the Department of Child and Family Services are equally shared with police.
  • Strengthen the laws around workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Amend the Criminal Code to outlaw cyber bullying
  • Promote and facilitate the advancement of the differently abled by, among other things, ensuring physical access to buildings and transport, job opportunities and equal access to all things Bermudian.

Thank You

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  1. LOL says:

    The trash can at my job smells better than the bull $T#! above.