Video: Minister Roban & Minister Hayward

November 10, 2020 | 1 Comment

[Updated] Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban and Minister of Labour Jason Hayward are holding a press conference this afternoon [Nov 10], and we will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 31-minute replay is below

Update 3.35pm: Minister Hayward’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public. Thank you for your attendance and for watching this Press Conference.

Introduction

In today’s press conference I will speak on four [4] topics:

  • 1. Introduction of a Living Wage;
  • 2. Execution of Financial Assistance Reform;
  • 3. Implementation of Unemployment Insurance;
  • 4. Introduction of an Economic Investment Certificate.

1. Living Wage

The Employment [Wage Commission] Act 2019 came into effect in October of last year. The Act provides amongst other things for the establishment of a Wage Commission.

The Commission is required to conduct studies, reviews, and analyses as necessary to determine the requirements for a basic standard of living in Bermuda and, to make recommendations on the minimum hourly wage and on the living wage rate to be prescribed by the Minister. The Current Wage Commission is chaired by Mr. Cordell Riley.

Upon receipt of the report from the Wage Commission, expected in the coming months, the Government will review the recommendations and considerations with an aim to table in Parliament a wage bill that will establish a statutory minimum wage and a national living wage.

The establishment of minimum and living wage rates will help support families that are struggling because of low wage rates that do not allow them to cover their basic needs such as housing and food. Bermuda’s high cost of living and decades of stagnant wages gives an even greater need for the establishment of a decent wage rate.

2. Financial Assistance Reform

The Financial Assistance reform strategy aims to chart a new course for Financial Assistance making it a more effective and efficient system that places emphasis on transforming those who have been unable to participate fully in the productive economy and realize their potential. There is a more vigorous motivation to move abled-bodied and abled-disabled recipients into employment opportunities as soon as practicable to avoid long-term dependency on the system.

The reform strategy will focus on the following aims:

  • increase the sustainability of the Financial Assistance System;
  • strengthen education, training, and employment services;
  • encourage individuals and families to be financially independent; and
  • reform the approach to better support people who are disabled.

To this end, Parliament will consider Financial Assistance Reform initiatives that will better place recipients on a pathway to employment, and, like most working people, allow them to save and build their assets. The financial assistance reform will be comprehensive and result in a whole new experience for current and future financial aid recipients.

3. Unemployment Insurance

Over the years, subsequent administrations have hesitated to introduce Unemployment Insurance. However, we can no longer take that stance. We must now take a progressive approach to introduce this crucial social safety net.

The precarious position of businesses and the potential for additional economic contraction have demonstrated a clear need to provide unemployment insurance.

Unemployment Insurance is a social policy instrument aimed at supporting individuals when they are displaced from the workforce. The Government offered an unemployment benefit to those affected by COVID-19 for a maximum of 18 weeks, spending upwards of $57 million dollars, and is currently offering a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit to support families in need. However, the current program is unsustainable as it is solely funded by the Government, which is experiencing fiscal stress.

Moving forward, the Government, along with a wide range of stakeholders, will consider the main issues in implementing an Unemployment Insurance plan for Bermuda including issues such as eligibility, contributions, benefit amounts, duration of benefits, funding, administration, staffing, and legal matters, to name a few.

The Government will ensure a strategy to transition into an Unemployment Insurance Scheme is developed so that this most critical social protection is provided to displaced workers, supporting them and their families allowing them to receive a basic income during their time of need.

4. Economic Investment Certificate

The Economic Investment policy is designed to stimulate economic activity, create the environment for job creation, and help market Bermuda as a place to reside and do business. The objective of the policy is to fully harness Immigration as one of many tools for creating economic growth for Bermuda while taking into account our limited space and ensuring that Bermudians fully benefit.

Affluent individuals around the world seek to live in places that meet certain criteria. They often seek safety, stability, sophisticated, connected places, with a comfortable climate, and the rule of law. Of utmost importance is they seek a place where they will feel comfortable with their children. These individuals and their families have the means to make significant financial investments, develop businesses, and create job opportunities, which can benefit Bermudians. Bermuda must take advantage of these opportunities.

Therefore, the Government will continue to protect the rights of Bermudians, while reforming policies to increase the residential population to support economic growth.

The Government will further revise the Residential Certificate policy to require those granted the right to live in Bermuda to make economic investments in the Island or to invest in the new Bermuda Trust Fund. The Fund will be set up to benefit those who have not had the benefit of historic, inherited wealth.

It must be noted that the current Residential Certificate Policy only requires an individual to prove that they have substantial means without any significant investment in Bermuda. The current policy does not serve the best interest of the Bermudian people and will be revised in the coming months.

Conclusion

The people of Bermuda have entrusted this Government to lead, and the progress and bold initiatives featured in the Speech from the throne will form part of the Ministry of Labour’s priorities over the next year. We cannot continue to do things the same. We must all work together and draw on both the lessons learned from our past and from the current crisis to ensure the future well-being of all our people.

Thank you.

Update 5.10pm: Minister Roban’s remarks:

Good Afternoon.

Following the November 6th Speech from the Throne, I would like to highlight upcoming initiatives which fall under my remit as Minister of Home Affairs.

The first is consumer protections for loans and mortgages. I will soon be introducing legislation that ensures new home owners and existing mortgage holders have enhanced protections for loans and mortgages.

In addition, the current landlord/tenant legislation will be modernized to provide further clarity regarding the rights of landlords and tenants, while also addressing the lack of legal protection for boarders, i.e. persons that rent rooms in homes and share common spaces. This is a timely initiative, as I am aware that during the early stages of the pandemic there were a number of complaints regarding actions by both landlords and tenants.

Another area highlighted in the Speech from the Throne is the subsea communications industry. I can confirm that a subsea cable fees regime will be completed in the near future, allowing Bermuda to not only position itself as the North Atlantic communications hub, but to reap the benefits of an industry that provides global connectivity and data protection in an increasingly online world.

Under my Ministry, The Department of Energy will be spearheading training for Level 1 solar installers – giving priority to those who have lost their jobs and are looking for new opportunities, as well as the introduction of a Green Energy and Environmental Justice Fund, which will encourage local and overseas investors to provide funding for:

  • installing solar for residential homes and small businesses;
  • additional training to develop solar installers and energy managers;
  • the initial investment to entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the renewable installers or energy management business.

Legislation to introduce a Regulatory Sandbox will also be finalized, allowing developers of new renewable technologies to build and test their technologies in Bermuda.

The Theme of this Throne Speech is, ‘Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at Heart’.

I have no doubt that these initiatives, once implemented, will fulfil that goal.

Thank you.

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  1. Crystal says:

    Minister Hayward needs to tone down the socialism.

    Attacking IB is not the answer right now, its all we’ve got.

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