Video: Ministers David Burch & Tinee Furbert

November 16, 2023 | 4 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Public Works David Burch and Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors Tinee Furbert are holding a press conference today [Nov 16] to “discuss their respective ministries’ initiatives, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne”. We will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the live video is below.

The 41-minute live video replay is below:

Update Nov 16, 3.00pm: Minister Furbert’s full statement follows below:

I am delighted to join you today to share about the work that our newly styled Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors will focus on during this parliamentary session. The Ministry now touches all of Bermuda’s population groups providing social safety nets for our children, adults, seniors and families. We will continue to empower our youth, establish personal and economic support for persons with insufficient financial resources and ensure the protection and social well-being of Bermuda’s seniors and persons with disabilities. I will start first with the 2023 Throne Speech Initiatives and then share about the ongoing work the Ministry is steadily progressing.

2023 Speech from the Throne The Independent Living Program [ILP] launched earlier this year, provides the opportunity for a maximum of two years of life skills, peer support and educational planning for those who have aged-out of the care of the Director of Child and Family Services on turning 18. To build on the success of this initiative, the Ministry will provide a Level Up component of the ILP extending the services to young people between 17 and 17 ½ year olds that remain in care.

They will now benefit from the life skills preparation in this transitional stage where they begin to assume the responsibilities of independent living. Feedback from stakeholders, including ILP participants, stated it would be more effective to expose those young people in the care of the Director to the life skills and the experience of living independently in a supervised environment such that they are able to make informed decisions rather than waiting until they turn eighteen.

While many are eager to become their own adult at eighteen, the immediate responsibilities of a grown-up is starting and can be confusing as they cannot pick and choose what they want to have control over and hope someone else will take on the areas that they may not have considered. While participants will engage in daily life skills, they will also slowly integrate into the weekly group sessions.

The topics covered in daily life skills will include but not be limited to the following: Money and food management, personal appearance/hygiene, health, housekeeping, housing, transportation, educational planning, employable skills, emergency/safety skills, community resources, interpersonal skills, legal issues and pregnancy prevention.

The MARAC Model In keeping with the promise made in last year’s Speech from the Throne, this year the Ministry established a Multi-Risk Assessment Conference [MARAC] Model to address the myriad of issues arising from domestic abuse and family violence. The UK agency SafeLives provided an invaluable review of the local services, identifying key priorities for the MARAC Committee to address.

The multi-agency represented committee will now develop a five-year domestic abuse strategic plan that will incorporate and continue building upon the key priorities identified in the SafeLives review. The focus will be to combat domestic abuse, mitigate against its familial and societal impacts and promote the safety of children and families experiencing this trauma. As a reminder the SafeLives review identified specific priorities that include:

1. A commitment to continue to increase domestic abuse awareness amongst professionals, focusing on developing shared understanding and language around domestic abuse and ensuring survivors feel believed when they seek support

2. Increase domestic abuse awareness amongst strategic leaders and political partners with the goal of making domestic abuse a key priority and awareness of the resources required to tackle it.

3. Specialized police training, to increase police awareness of domestic abuse in order to improve survivor experiences when seeking support

4. A public campaign aimed at raising awareness of domestic abuse and its impact island wide.

5. Improved networking and access to perpetrator programmes to support perpetrators toward change behavior.

In October, staff at the Department of Child and Family Services participated in a full day of training on domestic abuse facilitated by the Centre Against Abuse, a partner agency of the MARAC Committee. I participated in that training as well which was very informative and will help participants in identifying signs of domestic violence and how to be sensitive, compassionate and responsive to the needs of persons experiencing domestic violence.

The MARAC committee is also working towards hiring a domestic abuse liaison officer, a dedicated resource who will be based at the Centre Against Abuse to support clients. The Centre Against Abuse has assisted just over 100 clients since January this year. Cross-Border Adoptions This Government is committed to enhancing the lives of children and families through cross-border adoptions.

It recognises that growing up in a family is of primary importance and essential for the happiness and healthy development of a child. Hence, intercountry adoptions offers a permanent family for a child where a suitable family cannot be found in his or her country. The Department of Child and Family Services [DCFS] is responsible for any adoption affecting Bermuda under the provisions of the Adoption of Children Act 2006.

The Ministry will put forth amendments to the Act and the Adoption of Children Regulations 2013 to reform the process by which Bermudians adopt children from overseas, making it less complicated, less frustrating, and less expensive; but always in the best interest of the child. Legislative amendments would empower Bermudians who desire to adopt a child from another jurisdiction by eliminating existing obstacles to fulfilling their desire for a family.

Homelessness The Ministry will continue to collaborate with the charitable organization HOME and other private sector partners who bring their passion, energy and expertise to address homelessness in Bermuda. Homelessness is a growing problem in Bermuda. Current research by the Bermuda charity Home indicates the homeless population within this definition reached 650 persons by December 2022.

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness which can be voluntary or involuntary. A person can be voluntarily homeless for a number of reasons. We know there is substance abuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse, family breakdown, poverty, unhealthy relationships or just plain apathy that could be the impetus for voluntary homelessness. Rough sleeping is the most known type of homelessness that Bermuda faces. However, the Government alone cannot end homelessness in Bermuda.

A long-term strategy and highly coordinated plan will be needed that involves the many service providers and stakeholders with a demonstrated commitment to ending homelessness. In this regard, the Ministry, the Executive Director of the charitable organization HOME, and community and business stakeholders will collaborate to develop a homelessness strategy for Bermuda. A homelessness community perceptions survey was launched on October 3rd and ended on the 31st. Nearly 300 persons responded to the survey.

The data is currently being reviewed and analyzed. The results will be critically important for informed and sound decision-making about homelessness as the strategy is developed. Short-Term Relief Benefit As part of the Financial Assistance Reform, the Ministry will ensure the establishment of a Short-Term Relief Benefit.

The government realizes that persons continue to experience financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances, and with the relinquishing of the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit that ended in November 2022, persons in these situations have no options in meeting their immediate basic needs while taking steps to rectify their financial predicament. These types of situations place a mental burden on persons as they are unable to maintain their normal livelihood.

The short-term relief benefit will serve people in need. I will speak more to this in the months ahead. 2022 Speech from the Throne Let me now take the opportunity to provide progress updates of previous Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors Throne Speech initiatives. National Seniors Strategy The development of a national seniors strategy is steadily progressing. The Ministry has partnered with the Bermuda Health Council to bring this strategy to fruition.

The Health Council has vast experience and subject matter expertise in the health care discipline and is a QUANGO of the Ministry of Health. A project plan has been developed. Currently, consultations are being held with both public and private sector partners. A survey has been designed to collect information about challenges that our seniors face, what data is currently being gathered relating to seniors, the various programmes and services offered to seniors and any planned initiatives.

This information will paint a picture of what services are currently in place for seniors and also what gaps exist and need to be addressed. The team will reach out to Government Ministries and Departments, non-profit organizations, quangos and for profit entities as well to ensure the data collected is comprehensive. A community survey is also forthcoming that will target only seniors. The Ministry is aiming to have the national seniors strategy completed by April 2024.

I plan to share more information with the public about the development of this strategy in a Ministerial Statement. Developing a Formal Register of Persons with Disabilities A National Disability Register is critically important for our vulnerable persons with disabilities. It will assist in identifying which essential services are provided and the extent of the services required by those living with disabilities in Bermuda. The Ministry continues to push forward in developing a disability register.

In October, the ministry team met with representatives from the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], Country Office in Jamaica who are lending technical support for the creation of the disability register. To ensure that the disability register reflects best international practices, UNDP put our team in contact with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities. Jamaica already has in place an established disability register and legislation. The team obtained insightful information from the Jamaica Council about where to start in setting up a disability.

The next leg of work will entail framing the structure of the disability register and collecting the data. Other Ministry Initiatives: Dementia care services pilot program [a Ministerial Statement will be read on this on November 24] Youth Affairs – National Youth Policy which has eight goals that will be executed. A directory of Youth Agencies is being developed in alignment with Goal one in the Youth Policy.

In January 2024, a formalized registration will be rolled out for youth organizations and bodies to register. The objective is to establish a one-stop shop for our families when searching for youth activities for their children. Additionally, as per goal one, a focus will be on safeguarding our children and ensuring all youth agencies and organizations have a child safeguarding policy.

On November 24th the Youth Affairs Section will be hosting a full-day workshop entitled “Safeguarding Across Borders” where all youth agencies and organizations are invited to participate. The workshop will equip the entities to establish a safeguarding policy which will ultimately be a requirement for requesting a government grant moving forward.

Human Right Act Amendment to the definition of family status Amendments to the Charities Act The Parenting Expo, which is an annual event, took place this past Friday, November 10th, and saw close to 20 organizations come together on the Front Lawn of City Hall to provide information on: Community Programmes Child Development Support and Services Mental Health Support and Services Parent and Education Support Extra-Curricular Activities Conclusion Bermuda, the Mission of the Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors is to protect all individuals during their lifetime and facilitate their well-being.

I will continue the work during this legislative year, and implement the needed social policies and services to protect, assist, inform, and empower the youth and most vulnerable within our community.

Update Nov 16, 5.51pm: Minister Burch’s full statement follows below:

Good morning,

Thank you for joining us today as we delve into two of the Ministry of Public Works initiatives outlined in the recent Speech from the Throne under the theme of ‘Serving the People’.

One of the paramount issues highlighted in the Speech is the challenge of affordable housing — a concern affecting the core of our island community.

The shortage of private-sector housing has led us to confront what can only be termed a housing crisis. This scarcity has increased rental costs and threatened our island’s economic development.

In response, the Government has pledged a substantial commitment of $15 million dollars over the next three years towards renovating more affordable public housing units.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Works, in collaboration with the Bermuda Housing Corporation, continues to make significant progress in renovating and retrofitting 137 older residential units. To date 68 units have been completed and are either occupied or in the process of being occupied. These efforts will increase the availability of affordable housing options for Bermudians.

60 of these units are presently occupied and will undergo necessary refurbishments, while the remaining 77 units, which comprise the entire vacant and derelict units owned by the Corporation, are slated for significant retrofits.

These 77 units will increase the BHC rental inventory to 777 units upon completion, significantly augmenting our housing resources.

We understand that the fluctuating nature of the market fails to consider those who require assistance in attaining homeownership or ensuring a stable living environment for themselves and their families.

I’m proud to highlight the successful refurbishment of several housing units, including the Rock Oven housing apartment in St David’s, designed for a disabled family and which was formally opened a few weeks ago; the first phase of the refurbishment of the former hotel rooms at Harmony Club in Paget into apartments in September; and the completion of the 5- bedroom rooming house at Beacon Hill in Sandy’s in October.

Other properties include #5 Aunt Jinny’s Lane, which has been completed and is now occupied; 22 Battery Road, which is near completion; Regent House in St. George’s, which has been completed; the 13-unit Chelsea Apartments in St. George’s, and the 12-unit Battery Road Lofts refurbishment in St. David’s,, both of which are awaiting planning approval.

These projects mark significant progress in our commitment to ensuring suitable accommodation for our people. The concentration has been on multiple units to provide housing for several families at a time.

We are actively promoting housing developments within designated residential zones outlined in the Bermuda Plan and other specified geographical regions.

According to the Department of Planning, 582 parcels or 181 acres of unoccupied land are classified under Residential 1, Residential 2, or rural categories without conservation development constraints.

An in-depth analysis of housing supply and demand reveals a substantial availability of land within current residential zones, Mixed-Use Zones, and the City of Hamilton. Consequently, if required, there’s no immediate need to designate new lands for residential zoning.

The Bermuda Housing Corporation’s Private Sector Rental Programme, provides for the Corporation to manage the property, pay the rent on time and return the property in the condition it was originally rented – all at slightly below market rates.

Landlords grappling with renting their properties can now find support through this initiative which removes the day-to-day burden of managing properties.

The Government’s Mortgage Guarantee programme has already paved the way for forty-nine applicants to secure mortgages through local banks, empowering them to own homes for the first time.

The provision of housing in the country cannot be the responsibility of the Government alone – we have made provision for private developers to gain concessions by building in the Economic Empowerment Zones and the City of Hamilton.

Another critical aspect for the Ministry highlighted in the Throne Speech is our focus on improving our public highways.

To be perfectly frank – this year has been a trying one for road paving as the equipment and plant have not been in the best shape. Several months of repairs to the plant have still not brought it back into service. We have been collaborating with the supplier of the plant, who currently has a representative on the island reviewing the state of the plant and options for its replacement.

We acknowledge the inconvenience caused by delays due to island-wide trenching, and we are committed to upgrading road conditions for the benefit of all motorists as soon as possible.

The repair and maintenance of our roads remain a top priority for the Ministry of Public Works. It’s crucial to emphasize that while the current inconveniences might cause frustration among the motoring public, the eventual benefits will be significant.

The ongoing infrastructure projects, such as BELCO’s $250 million capital plan and our Water and Wastewater Masterplan, involve:

  • Excavating our roads.
  • Safeguarding our freshwater supplies.
  • Fortifying our electrical infrastructure, and
  • Ensuring proper sewage disposal.

The public will recall the very wet start to summer and the work our Ministry has been doing to fix potholes on our roads.

We have successfully filled more than 100 potholes spread across twenty-one different areas across the island. Once again, I encourage residents to continue to report potholes to us via our email address — All reports will be promptly attended to and rectified.

The Ministry has allocated a budget of just over two million dollars for road works this year, plus an additional $900,000 from the previous fiscal year, bolstering our capability to undertake more substantial capital roadworks within this period.

While work continues on assessing our plant, we are working closely with East End Asphalt to both assist us with paving as well as providing our paving crews with asphalt. This process will run in parallel with the plans for a new plant so that paving work can continue whilst we source a new plant.

Efforts to increase funding for paving are also underway as we review our capital spending for the balance of this year.

The Ministry is committed to delivering on these two main Throne Speech initiatives while also managing the variety of other tasks that fall under the Ministry of Public Works.

Thank you.

click here Bermuda 2023 Throne Speech

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Comments (4)

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  1. Ringmaster says:

    Won’t be long before the vast green colored pamphlet paid for by tax payers will be dropped in mailboxes. Tax funded electioneering, illegal in most modern islands/countries, but not Bermuda.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    Beauty and the Beast?

  3. Steve says:

    Another joint press conference or a joint before the press conference ????

  4. Steve says:

    Anyone seen flip flop?

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