(CNS): Following the launch of a policy to promote the interests and protect the rights of pensioners and those over 65 years old, the Legislative Assembly has now passed the legislation to support the policy. The bill presented by Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden will pave the way for a council to advocate for the needs of elderly people, a volunteer register and to prevent discrimination. The law was widely supported by both sides of the House and was described as the first step towards a positive regime looking out for older folks, especially as their numbers grow.
Joey Hew, the government backbench member for George Town, pointed out that at the end of 2015 there were 4,040 Caymanians aged 65 and over, representing more than 6.7% of the population, and that figure was an increase on the previous year of nearly 6%, demonstrating the rapid growth in the numbers of people who will be classified as “older persons” by government.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush offered his full backing to the government legislation and pointed out during the debate that passing the legislation demonstrated how much older people were appreciated, a sentiment echoed and supported by most of the members.
There was considerable support on both the government and opposition benches for promoting a skills bank and seeing post retirement people who want to go back to work given the chance to do so and to share their skills and take up training if they wanted to. Arden McLean (East End) said they could start at the government building employing older local people who are still fit to escort visitors instead of paying foreign security guards.
Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said that the Department of Tourism was already employing local older people at the airport as ambassadors to assist tourists with general questions and information.
The idea of a discount package for over 65’s was also raised by several members and Finance Minister Marco Archer said he would be happy to sit down with the members and agree a way forward to try and cut duties or fees for older people, which would serve as an example to the private sector to follow suit.
Minister Bodden said that the goal was to formally protect older people and help them live with dignity. He said this was the first legislative step, after which his ministry and the council, which will be chaired by an older person, could begin implementing actions, and there would be more laws and regulations coming to shape the future for the growing demographic in Cayman.
The older person’s policy was launched by the ministry in November. Officials have said the main goals are to ensure older people get access to safe and secure housing, healthcare, leisure and education opportunities, that their basic needs are met, and they are protected from emotional, financial and physical abuse.
See full debate on the older persons bill on CIGTV video below starting at 1:02 and see the bill in the CNS Library