Social Issues While Living In A ‘Protracted Crisis’

November 13, 2021 | 3 Comments

Minister of Social Development and Seniors Tinee Furbert provided the House of Assembly with a report on “issues related to social development and social protections in a protracted crisis, which were presented and discussed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean.”

The Minister said, “According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean, Bermuda has been living a protracted crisis since March 2020 whereby our population has been facing heightened risk of death, disease, and breakdown of livelihoods over an elongated period of time.”

“The 2021 edition of The Bermuda Job Market Employment Brief highlighted that between 2019 and 2020 we have seen the total jobs filled decreased by 5.7%, which represents the largest year over year decrease since 2012.

“The social impacts of disasters are compounded by economic losses, there is a growing consensus that inequality is an enemy of productivity, learning and innovation. For Bermuda’s vulnerable population, unequal access to health and social protection services has meant a hard choice between livelihood and exposure to contagion.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to relay the issues related to social development and social protections in a protracted crisis, which were presented and discussed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean, at the Fourth Session of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean held from October 26th to October 28th, 2021.

Mr. Speaker, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean, Bermuda has been living a protracted crisis since March 2020 whereby our population has been facing heightened risk of death, disease, and breakdown of livelihoods over an elongated period of time. The

Covid-19 pandemic and damage spurring from our annual hurricane seasons require interventions that are framed as holistic approaches to development.

Mr. Speaker, The World Health Organization [WHO] have estimated that an additional 38 billion Covid-19 vaccines are needed to reach the aspirational 70% population coverage rate worldwide. Bermuda was commendably noted to be 1 of the 5 countries within the Latin America and Caribbean region who will meet the global Covid-19 vaccination coverage goal by the end of 2021.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda is amongst the region which has suffered the most economic and unemployment regression worldwide, and estimates show that only 5% of our neighboring countries will recover. The 2021 edition of The Bermuda Job Market Employment Brief highlighted that between 2019 and 2020 we have seen the total jobs filled decreased by 5.7%, which represents the largest year over year decrease since 2012. The social impacts of disasters are compounded by economic losses, there is a growing consensus that inequality is an enemy of productivity, learning and innovation. For Bermuda’s vulnerable population, unequal access to health and social protection services has meant a hard choice between livelihood and exposure to contagion.

Mr. Speaker, through cross-jurisdictional analysis conducted by the United Nations and regional governments, it has been determined that women and young people have been the most impacted demographic by the Covid-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters. It is estimated that by the end of 2021 79% of population within Latin America & Caribbean will earn revenues below the national and regional poverty lines. This an increase of 22 million people from 2020. Recent data from the Department of Statistics reveals that in the one year from 2019 to 2020, that the disparities gap between our demographics have widened. In 2019 the pay difference between men and women, was estimated to be 8.2%, this rose to 9.7% in 2020, further exacerbating gender related issues. On racial terms, in 2019 the pay difference between blacks and whites was calculated to be 36.3%, this has risen to 39.1% in 2020, deepening Bermuda’s wealth distribution gap.

Mr. Speaker, echoing the sentiments from the Fourth Session of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; recovery from a social development crisis requires a government to ‘build forward better’ with a ‘leave no one behind approach’ with equality and sustainability. Transformational approaches should focus on guaranteeing income, food access, expenditure reduction, and cash transfers.

Mr. Speaker, As we have all been impacted in one way or another by the Covid- 19 pandemic worldwide, there is an urgent call by the international community to encourage governments to take a mainstream approach to mental health in incorporating support systems into social protection frameworks.

Mr. Speaker, as we move to a post-pandemic state and attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change, governments within the Latin American and Caribbean region have recognized the need for creating a vulnerability index as a replacement for the Gross Domestic Product [GDP] as an indicator of development, inequality, and stability of social protection systems.

Mr. Speaker, the public should be made aware that the UN Women of the Caribbean extended an invitation to have an initial dialogue with Government of Bermuda. The aim of that meeting was to discuss strengthening the social frameworks that will build capacity, along with innovative financing opportunities to enhance Bermuda’s social resilience. I will provide updates as these discussions progress.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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Comments (3)

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  1. Loquat tree says:

    Interesting, particularly in the financing opportunity. Hopefully this will lead to some meaningful improvements in a short timeframe.
    Climate change is mentioned briefly. I wonder if any links will be made with the COP26 outcomes and promised financial support from the larger economies?
    Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel!

  2. DOUBLE DIP says:

    Bermuda needs to be number one on the planet to solve the covid 19 crisis which is facing the world as we see other big countries falling like dominoes.

    For us here it does not have to be that way .

    To day I am going for my third vaccination. not knowing what is in store for me in the long term, yet ,I do know its the end of the road for me if I don’t get that shot , and I am only 85. At my age I have been there I have seen what pandemics and epidemics can do, strip you of your love ones.

    The People of Bermuda you are I are both in the same sinking boat M.V . ” CATCH 22″.

    DO THE RIGHT THING.

    In my last job I was face with many catch 22 situations my solution was ” Dam if you do and Dam if you don’t ~~~ Dam it full speed ahead “. I got the job done. So ! Can you ?

    The vaccination system goes a long way to solving the problem as it’s working all over the world what is also working is Social distancing or Isolation or Quarantine and Cleanliness, that way, you don’t get to put you head in the Lions mouth.

    We have hundreds of people here we know who they are, who ,are putting them self in harms way for you and I they can’t do it alone, be part of the solution not part of the problem.

  3. Question says:

    The pandemic is over. We are now dealing with an endemic disease. If the crisis is ‘protracted’, it’s because that is what the government wants.

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