Video: Minister Rabain & Minister Furbert

March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Education Diallo Rabain and Minister of Social Development and Seniors Tinee Furbert are holding a joint post-budget press conference this morning [March 3]. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 24-minute replay is below

Update 1.48pm: Minister Rabain’s remarks:

Good Morning and thank you for coming.

Today, I am pleased to give an overview of the Ministry of Education’s 2021 – 2022 fiscal year budget.

The Ministry of Education’s 2021-2022 budget allocation was reduced by just over $9 million from the originally budgeted sum last year. However, the budget is $3.6 million less than the revised budget resulting from the impact of the pandemic.

Although this figure may seem large, it is important to note that ALL primary programmes and services will continue to be funded. The bulk of this reduction, roughly 90% or just over $8 million: $3 million is attributed to the reduction in salaries due to the Government’s 10% austerity measures agreement with the Unions that will expire later this year, and $5 million deduction in salaries due to the removal of funding for vacant posts of which the hiring could be delayed for the next fiscal year. The balance of the reductions will be achieved through operational efficiencies.

Since 2018, the Ministry has consistently looked within its current budget to identify areas of efficiencies and savings. This is even though the cost of salaries and wages accounts for close to 70% of our current expenditure. This exercise was continued this year in preparing the 2021-2022 budget. All Departments, inclusive of Bermuda College, have submitted lower budgets, understanding the Government’s fiscal position. As already noted, the majority of savings were sourced from vacant funded posts in the Department of Education after first ensuring that critical staffing needs in schools would be met for the current upcoming year. Operational grants for Aided Schools were mostly retained at the previous year’s budget levels, while the remaining cuts were in operational expenditures for Departments.

Highlights of Reduced Operational Expenditures

  • Ministry Headquarters – The value of external grants awarded were maintained at the COVID revised amounts used for the last fiscal year
  • Department of Education – Travel costs, electricity costs, staff uniforms, external services
  • Department of Libraries – Travel costs, books and periodical subscriptions
  • Bermuda College – Salaries & wages, travel costs, marketing.

The Ministry has been careful in its efficiency exercise not to sacrifice the delivery of critical programmes with reduced spending. We have been very intentional and focused on continuing the delivery of services and programmes that support the education of our children and adults. Additionally, it was important to honour the agreed salary adjustments that will be given to our Paraeductors and Educational Therapist Assistants, scheduled for September,

Budget Highlights

I would now like to provide a brief snapshot of our proposed initiatives for the upcoming fiscal year.

Bermuda College – the merit-based “College Promise” programme for public school graduates to attend Bermuda College tuition free will still be offered. The College will still receive the annual tuition assistance grant of $300,000 to assist students with financial need which goes a long way to ensuring that no student is prohibited from attending Bermuda College due to limited household incomes.

Department of Education – will continue to execute adaptive and technical strategies in Plan 2022 that align with Education Reform. These include:

  • continue the implementation of a Standards-Based Education System
  • strengthening the literacy programme to focus more on student’s reading skills
  • continue Foundation Year training for the Lower Primary Years
  • review the system curriculum.
  • updating the Social Studies curriculum to be more culturally relevant
  • Review of other curriculum subject areas such as PE and Visual Arts
  • Improving the delivery of mathematics curriculum
  • introduce foreign languages at the preschool level.
  • continuing professional development and training for teachers

Department of Libraries & Archives – several innovative new services that stemmed from the impact of the pandemic will continue and include:

  • Curbside / Walk-up Pickup
  • Virtual Programmes
  • Webinars
  • STEAM – Grab & Go Kits at the Youth Library

Ministry of Education – the scholarships and awards offerings have been maintained at the pre-pandemic levels and are currently being advertised with a deadline in April are still in train. Education Reform will advance with work continuing in all four domains of Reform:

  • I. investigative work on the development of an Education Authority.
  • II. completion of the consultation process on the proposal to introduce parish primary schools; and,
  • III. the execution of the Learning First Programme focusing on the six national core priorities for education; and,
  • IV. establishment of legislation to change the structure of the public school system from a 3-tier to a 2-tier system; that is, the removal of middle schools and the introduction of signature schools.

Summary

The global pandemic has required this Government, like Governments around the world, to rethink its approach to budgeting to adjust to the new fiscal realities we are facing. While this budget was extremely difficult to arrive at, I want to thank the technical officers for their hard work. We truly sharpened our pencils and found the necessary efficiencies to achieve our fiscal goals without sacrificing service to our students.

Thank You

Update 2.05pm: Minister Furbert’s remarks:

Good morning Bermuda, thank you for joining us today.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share the plans and initiatives of the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors for the 2021-2022 budget year.

I want to take a moment to express that the Government recognises that while Bermuda’s economy has provided opportunities and a comfortable lifestyle for many, this is not the reality for all.

The reality is, there are individuals in our community who have not had equal access to opportunities or a comfortable lifestyle. They have struggled and needed support for the basics of housing, food, education, and health care.

Additionally, due to Bermuda’s economic disruptions this past year, we have witnessed families experience further financial hardships. While it may seem that ‘more money’ is the solution, economic challenges also have social consequences.

With this in mind, our focus for the Ministry is ensuring social policies and services are in place to address the challenges associated with supporting and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

For the fiscal year 2021-2022, our Ministry has received a budget allocation of $23,733,000, and we are responsible for:

  • The Department of Child and Family Services
  • Ageing and Disability Services
  • The K Margaret Carter Centre
  • The Human Rights Commission
  • and Charities.

In recognition of the importance of this Ministry, and that this Government prioritises social development, we have been allocated a budget that has increased funds available for this financial year.

However, the exercise of allocating to stay within budget was not an easy task, especially when we are being asked to stay within a certain ceiling. Then we have to evaluate whether the services in our Ministries are providing value to our community, this can be a very daunting task. Knowing that defunding can be the reason why organizations fold, is a heavy decision but sometimes necessary.

However, with many third sector organizations knocking on our door for funding as they assist with helping the most vulnerable, we have managed to still provide to our third sector. Please recognize that not all of our third sector is financially covered so as a community we still have to do our part by giving to help our community when we can.

At this time, I will share some of the Ministry’s priorities for the next fiscal year.

Grants and Contributions

Seventeen percent [17%] of the Ministry’s budget, or $4,031,000, has been allocated to invest in programmes and services that align with the Ministry’s mission, display a genuine financial need, and ensure value for our money. This includes:

  • Fifteen thousand dollars [$15,000] for Age Concern.
  • One Million three hundred and fifty thousand dollars [$1,350,000] for rest homes including Packwood rest home.
  • One Hundred thousand dollars [$100,000] for the Women’s Resource Centre to provide support services for disadvantaged women and their families as part of their transformational support services program.
  • Fifteen thousand dollars [$15,000] for care of the blind.
  • Forty eight thousand dollars [$48,000] for meals on wheels.
  • Five hundred and fifty thousand dollars [$550,000] for the Salvation Army to provide an emergency shelter on North Street.
  • Six hundred thousand dollars [$600,000] for Summerhaven.
  • Thirteen thousand dollars [$13,000] for tomorrow’s voices to provide early intervention services to children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.
  • Eight hundred and ninety thousand dollars [$890,000] for foster fees.
  • Three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars [$375,000] for Teen Services
  • Seventy Five Thousand dollars [$75,000] for cross Ministry initiative on housing and treatment of families in crisis.

A National Seniors Strategy

In recognising that we have an ageing population, we are passionate about developing a National Seniors Strategy that emphasises Dementia care and a prevention plan for Seniors’ abuse.

Ageing and Disability Services [ADS]

We have allocated $1,013,000 to help seniors and persons with physical, cognitive, or developmental disabilities by connecting those who need help with relevant services and resources.

Ageing and Disability Services also play a critical role in mitigating senior abuse. They investigate senior abuse cases and enforce the Senior Abuse Register Act 2008.

Children’s Commission

We will bring legislation forward to replace the Child Placement Board with a Children’s Commission.

The Commission’s remit is advocacy for children in care by promoting programmes, services, and best policy responses to meet their needs.

Child Safeguarding Act 2019

We have allocated $216,000 to meet the requirements of the Child Safeguarding Act 2019.

This Act is crucial to children’s well-being as it provides physical and psychological assistance to a child victim of a sexual offence and a child who is the perpetrator of a sexual offence.

Independent Living Coordinators

We are happy to announce that children in our care will no longer ‘age out’ of our support once they turn 18 years old.

In fact, $600,000 has been allocated to support children in our care that may still require our assistance with housing, post-secondary education, career guidance, and physical and mental healthcare.

Referral, Assessment, and Counselling Services

We have allocated $1,210,000 to continue strengthening and supporting families at risk who are experiencing challenges related to behaviour, trauma, social, family, school, and/or substances.

Residential Treatment Services

We have allocated a total of $7,643,000 to provide residential services to children to reduce their risk level, increase positive coping skills, reduce problem behaviours, and increase reunification options with family or appropriate alternative placement.

Presently, there are two [2] community-based group homes and clinical services designed to respond to adolescents at risk between the ages of twelve [12] and eighteen [18] years old.

We have included $2,325,000 for these homes to provide care and protection to young people who need residential care and intervention due to abuse/neglect.

All Residential Treatment Services are driven by a comprehensive individual service plan that includes intervention and clinical strategies for all aspects of the young person’s life.

Case Managing Bermuda’s Foster Children

We have allocated $2,634,000 to support the 100 children who will receive foster care services this fiscal year due to abuse and neglect.

The programme’s overall aim is to provide foster children with a standard of living equal to their Bermudian peers.

The Happy Valley Child Care Centre [HVCCC]

We have allocated $1,030,000 to provide quality child care in a safe and positive atmosphere that promotes healthy development for the whole child.

The Happy Valley Child Care Centre’s overall aim is to provide stimulating activities for children aged 3 months to 4 years old, which encourages learning through exploration, discovery, and creativity.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

We have sought an extension of this Convention to Bermuda to reaffirm that all individuals can enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms, irrespective of their type of disability.

K. Margaret Carter Centre [KMCC]

We have allocated $1,751,000 for the operational costs of providing daily living skills, social functioning coaching, and vocational training for adults with various intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

The K. Margaret Carter Centre empowers adults with the tools required for an independent and supported living while also enhancing their ability to be more productive members of society.

Homeless Strategy

We have a group of senior managers assigned with developing a homeless strategy that focuses on individual circumstances. The initial goal is to assist those at the acute end of the spectrum of homelessness first.

Complex Multiple Treatment Programs

We have allocated $509,000 for the provision of treatment and support for persons with complex multiple disability treatment needs.

In closing, we want to reassure you that the Government recognises that our Country’s success is contingent on our residents’ well-being.

Our Ministry is committed to ensuring that all of our residents have opportunities to reach their full potential and maintain their well-being. However, please keep in mind that this mission does not stop at this Ministry, or the Government alone, we all have a part to play.

Thank you Bermuda.

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