New welfare law will mandate need to work

| 29/09/2021 | 77 Comments
Cayman News Service
PAC Chair Roy McTaggart at Wednesday’s hearing

(CNS): A government policy maker has indicated that when the new law dealing with financial support for those in need finally reaches Parliament next year, it will include a mandatory requirement for able bodied people to enter the workforce and find a job. At a Public Accounts Committee hearing last week, the former and current chief officers and other staff answered questions about the very long delays in addressing the auditor general’s concerns about social welfare policy and how spending is being accounted for. During the hearing some details of the long awaited future policy and legislation emerged.

Stacie Sybersma, the senior policy advisor in the new social development ministry, told PAC that some of the improvements in the draft legislation currently under review include a mandate that able bodied clients work, as that is not currently a requirement.

“It leads to individuals who could be in the workforce not necessarily pursuing employment,” she said.

Sybersma explained that the law would add stronger parameters around temporary unemployment relief, whether it is for medical reasons “or falling on hard times”, as well as defining who is permanently disabled and introducing more transparency over access to the assistance given by government to those who genuinely need it.

Eric Bush, the chief officer with responsibility for social development, explained the need to measure the success of welfare and for the government to better understand how much has been spent on the relevant areas of family support, child welfare and the elderly and what it has achieved.

He said the ministry is not re-writing everything from scratch since a lot of work has been going on over the last few years in this area, albeit very slowly. However, a strategy is now being formed to properly define government objectives when it comes to social support and development.

“We are evaluating all of the government services that are offered,” he said, adding that it was important to report on the spending aspect but also to introduce technology to make it more efficient. But the ministry’s key responsibility was not to lose sight of the main goals, he said. “Are we doing good and are we setting out to achieve our vision?”

Bush was speaking about the current situation and future plans to have legislation before Parliament during the first three months of next year, with the law enacted, regulations complete and the policies being followed by the summer.

But before that, PAC heard from Teresa Echenique, the chief officer in the community affairs ministry during the previous administration, who had answered questions on why the ministry had failed to act on recommendations made by the auditor general for more than six years.

The Office of the Auditor General has been raising the alarm since 2015 about government’s failure to have proper policies in place, as well as defined criteria and goals about the money it gives to those in need. While the OAG was clear that government should help people, there have been enormous problems with the delivery, which means that the most vulnerable in the community are not always getting what they need.

In a review about the issues surrounding welfare, the auditor general published a report last month which revealed that in more than six years, despite commitments to improve the situation, almost none of the recommendations by her office had been implemented and nothing had been done to improve the failing system.

Despite being at the helm of the ministry responsible since September 2017, after her predecessor took early retirement, Echenique failed to supply a definitive answer about the delays and failings in response to direct and pointed questions from PAC members, particularly from Chairperson Roy McTaggart and Kathy Ebanks-Wilks.

Offering reasons why the framework, strategy and legislation had all failed to materialize during her tenure, Echenique blamed a series of issues, such as the pandemic and not “wanting to rush things” in such a sensitive field.

See the PAC hearings on CIGTV (first video set to start where McTaggart’s mic kicks in):

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Comments (77)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Start by mandating that able-bodied person’s on welfare assist with the annual clean-ups and community services. They should also be required to attend classes if that’s an area that needs to be addressed to make them more employable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The extent of the discrimination that takes place in this country in unbelievable. The reality of the situation is that the cancers that metastasize and there is nothing that can be done at this stage. All you can do is continue fighting against evil and pray for a miracle.

  3. Anonymous says:

    All eligible caymanians should be in active employment and not the NAU.
    This is a great step forward.

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely and the Govt got to stop giving them $950 monthly to stay home and drink alcohol and smoke daily and give them a Cinico card its XXX ridiculous and some had jobs and quit their jobs after receiving the first month NAU money. They need to take away from a lot in West Bay as they just stay home and drink beer and smoke Rothmans all day and have lame excuses why tgey can’t work. All the kids going to Sunrise Center in West Bay should have a Cinco card its a shame and disgrace with these people that have them and killing themselves slowly daily.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also they could clean the beach or do things if on a stipend. Money should never be free.

  4. Wilf says:

    One reason for some Caymanians being long-term unemployed is that they have criminal records. You cannot force employers to take on people (even if they seem willing and have the basic skills) if they have done time at Northward. This probably applies to more than half of long-term unemployed Caymanian males aged over 25. Govt. is going to need to do more that actually works in getting these guys back to work (and not rely on a few charitable souls who’ll take a chance on them).

  5. Anonymous says:

    So they no longer fight for the security of Caymanian opportunitybut demand Caymanians are employed……just more PPM short sighted idiocy

  6. Anonymous says:

    A law to force people to work!! WTF has Cayman come to! Sold out and hand out! Entitlement mentality to the max! Young Caymanians stripped of pride, education and ambition – with nothing left but greed and envy of the successful ones!! Watch what’s coming next….burglar bars on every home!!

    Jim Bodden and his 1976 Team should all rot in hell!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you think young Caymanians have been stripped of pride, education and ambition you need look no further than the parents, the education system and politicians. All of which by the way are Caymanian. Any young Caymanian willing to get an education and willing to work can write their ticket to success. Lots of opportunities and lots of financial scholarships.

      And yes just like in a lot of other countries there is a serious problem with self entitlement fostered again by the parents and politicians.

      • Anonymous says:

        30/09 @ 10:46 am – what a stupid comment that “all” parents of “young” Caymanians are also Caymanian! That is utter foolishness and is far from the truth. I give you the benefit of doubt that you do not live in Cayman nor have lived here since the 1970s (as the timeframe referenced). If you actually have lived in Cayman for more than 1 day in the last 50 years you will know your statement is crap and lies!

        Perhaps the upcoming census could enlighten you if parental demographics were recorded. It would show clearly that a sizeable chunk of young Caymanians have one parent from elsewhere.

        But that is totally beside the point and of course someone xenophobe like you had to insert the well-loved and despicable “Caymanian vs foreigner” slant! My original point was not devisive – I spoke of “young Caymanians” in the broadest and most accepting sense – the reality – that young Caymanians, generally, have been stripped of certain values. If you choose to blame parenting and the lack thereof (quite true in many cases) then be realistic and truthful regarding that said parentage!!

    • Anonymous says:

      That is why it is important to get the people into employment to prevent the burglar bars on every home. The system is broken but it’s never too late to correct it.

  7. blowhard says:

    Former CO said she “didnt want to rush things”???

    Certainly achieved that by doing nothing!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey Roy, where is your mask?

    If CIG expects my six-year-old to wear one all day I want to see you all wearing one to see how you like it.

    • James says:

      They don’t wear them when speaking and presenting.

      • Anonymous says:

        No kidding. It was a rhetorical point to show how silly and unfair the rules are. I doubt he wears one at his desk either unlike the kids in daughter’s class. Or the teacher who has to wear one all day even when “speaking and presenting”…

      • Anonymous says:

        Interesting point though. Indoors. Accessible to the public. Regulation says you take your mask off when seated at your own desk or when eating, but not when talking. No exemption for politicians or presentations that I can see. Sure the speech’s may be a little mumbled and harder to hear, but they don’t make any sense anyway.

        • Anonymous says:

          Those rules (laws) do not apply in the Parliament, ever heard of Parliamentary supremacy. The Parliament makes its own rules and these are enforced by the speaker. Hence when one particular Gt Politician gave another GT Politician a RA$$ box some years ago he could not press charges.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Newsflash: it has been proven that it is easier to find another job than to find A job. It is also better to earn something, than live off public funds. Just saying…

  10. Anonymous says:

    talk is cheap….will wait to see if it is enforced.
    plenty of good laws in cayman with little enforcement.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree in theory but with so many employers who outright discriminate against locals the reality of this may make things even harder for those in genuine need.

    What about people who are unable to work due to medical conditions?

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense, why would any employer pay a work permit fee if there is an able caymanian to save them the costs. Also, when people say employers don’t pay fair wages here it is the market and your skill set that drive your wages, so they are fair, and most minimum wage jobs come with substantial tips and gratuities which if deposited regularly into your bank account are always counted by banks towards loan and mortgage evaluations.

  12. Anonymous says:

    About damn time!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Perfect! Now include enforcement of the maintenance act with the individuals needing to go back to court. The minute a payment is not made, it is easy to provide information online and the court will automatically send a bailiff for arrest or garnish wages. If the person is overseas, automatically put in for their arrest upon their arrival. Contact the party not receiving the maintenance to find out what country they moved to and register the maintenance in that country for that country to assist with recovering the maintenance.

    Enforce that every work permit holder should be actively training a Caymanian for their role. Enforce that no entry level or mid level manager positions are granted to anyone on a work permit. If at the end of the work permit term the work permit holder cannot provide evidence that they provided training for a Caymanian, then the work permit will not be renewed. This is for the majority of work permits. Of course there are always a handful of occupations that are specialized, but that is truly a handful. Corporate administrators, lawyers and accountants are a dime a dozen. They all learned from somewhere. They can come here and teach. They couldn’t make it in their own countries which is why most people are here. The other reason is because the money is good in Cayman. Well the money is supposed to be good for locals and not just foreigners. Once upon a time, Caymanians did not have the opportunities we have now. Online school is bridging a huge gap. Foreigners are equally upgrading their skills while here and mostly on the company’s dime. Why is that not only afforded to Caymanians if the company wants to remain here. People can say the company’s will up and leave and go remote. There is nothing stopping them from doing that when Covid and lockdown happened. Yet they are still here. So train the Caymanians just as you have the silly Caymanians train the expats that come here and then become the manager.

    For the absolute bums, they seem to make it whether govt is giving them money or not. They supply the white collar workers with their ‘energy food’ to work long hours. Leave them to continue. Make them pay their way.

    The only ones should be the elderly and that should be restricted also. If we are seeing a pattern of the elderly needing resources and these were work permit holders/PR/paper Caymanians granted Cayman status, why are we not removing Cayman status at that point?

    Add in a mandatory class in the government high school for personal financial planning.

    • Anonymous says:

      “They couldn’t make it in their own country which is why they are here”
      While you are busy being ignorant please be mindful of the following facts:
      1. Plenty of ppl here were actively recruited from their home country.
      2. Some persons where begged to come out of retirement to join the workforce in cayman.
      3. Plenty of persons here were very established in their home country.
      4. Some persons working in cayman, despite being established in their home country, wanted a change; hence the move to cayman.
      5. Some persons here only came to join loved ones and along the way picked up a job.
      6. Professionals who come here with their expertise and education help to further develop the economy. So you should be happy to have them.
      7. No reputable business would hire a person who was trained on the job to the position of a financial accountant, practicing lawyer or doctor, without the formal education as foundation. Sorry to break it to all the caymanians with high school level education looking for employment as head of marketing and so on.
      If it’s for a corner shop, then by all means mentor a Caymanian. But not reputable organizations. More than on the job training is required, they need formal education too. Even to be an electrician requires a license and some places will not take you without that license.
      O that class for personal financial planning, it exists. It’s called life skills. They learn more that personal financial planning tho.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you really think so little of Cayman that your only explanation for why a lawyer or accountant might come here is because they couldn’t make it elsewhere?

      I came here despite having a broad range of high paying positions as options because it is a wonderful place to live with warm welcoming people (subject to certain xenophobic exceptions).

      Cayman is not some sort of runner up prize despite what your view on it may be.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have tried, but found it almost impossible to “train” Caymanians who can barely read or write, who have basic knowledge and critical thinking skills gaps and who are … let’s just say, not very ambitious in attending to their job tasks. Then there’s a unreliability factor and the fact that we have accept an automatic 10 days sick leave and that at one second after 5 pm they are out the door – even if they arrived late and left critical work unfinished. We have therefore decided it’s better to hire Caymanians who don’t need what I would call remedial “training.” Of course, we also hire educated Caymanians who only require the same basic company training that our educated expats require, but on average, they stay about two years before they jump to a new employer because they tend to expect executive salaries at a younger age and with less experience. Similar aged expats stay with us for an average of about 5 years and while there are of course issues with dedication with these employees, they seem to take a little more pride in the work they do.

    • Anonymous says:

      You truly have no idea. The most twisted inaccurate post i have ever seen. The lawyers and accountants desperately invest millions in dollars and time it make caymanians succeed. Sadly most leave.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There are many able-bodies applying for jobs and not getting it anywhere. Why? Work permits being granted – thousands. There are bums in Cayman and everywhere else that I have travelled so don’t come on here making believe majority of Caymanians are lazy and don’t want to work. Remember when it was easy to find a job and start working soon? There was the Caymanian Protection Board. Employers knew that the work permit would be denied hence many Caymanians can be grateful for today they have jobs decades on and looking forward to retirement soon. What happened? A Govt that no longer cared about its own people. The Govt’s wanton granting of work permits and leaving its people out and now Govt want to make law so that these people need to find work if they resort to NAU? How Ironic?!

    Perhaps NAU can start by asking these applicants how many jobs they have applied for and to what companies then investigate how many work permits these companies have been granted by the Govt.

    • Anonymous says:

      Heres what people aren’t understanding, No matter where you go in the world you will find imigrants who will work harder than the locals its not a cayman thing. What has changed is that it is now (was) an international , travel easy world. Everyones job everywhere in the world is up for grabs to the person that will work hardest for it, which is a good thing. People don’t deserve job because thir race they deserve them because their work ethic. 92% percent of sick days at my workplace are taken by a certain demographic of employees where I work with 100 people thats not a generalization, its a fact. Why should an employer suffer, I won’t, they won’t and the officials at the top know this. The work permit thing isn’t going anywhere until people face accountability or loose your job to someone else who wants it more. that simple

  15. Anonymous says:

    The National Minimum Basic Wage is CI$6.00. Hmm, let’s see:
    If I want to rent a simple one bedroom apt. I have to pay $1,200 a month plus utilities (IF I am lucky enough to find an apartment in that price range)
    To drive to work, one gallon of gas costs me CI 5.12
    To buy a gallon of milk I need almost $6.00
    An outfit for work costs me about CI 100 (if I want to look decent)
    Lunch is about $40 a week if I keep it simple.
    Maybe it is time to reassess that minimum wage…

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of those minimum wage jobs comes with tips.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you tip the people at fosters who stock the shelves? What about the person who pumps your gas? The employee who takes your order at Burger King? All these people make minimum wage and are not tipped. All the well tipped jobs in the restaurant industry are going the way of the dodo the longer we keep our fortress Cayman

        • Anon says:

          They don’t earn sox dollars are an hour … they earn a lot more.

        • Anonymous says:

          It feels like there is some closeted racism, classism and a sense of colonialism here that some are simply waiting for a Trump type figure to make it socially acceptable to be hateful.

    • Anonymous says:

      Income inequality is a major issue here that the wealthy neither want to actually acknowledge nor constructively address.

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny that Americans, Canaidians, UK are happy to work for it….. entitlement *cough…. excuse me

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely agree, it needs to be at least CI$10 but too many employers here with lots of influence in Govt. mean it aint gonna happen.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been saying this for years!
    If the applicant is not ready to work when they apply for assistance then, according to their ability, WORC places them in a six-month trainee program – F/B service, cashier, A/C, electrical, plumbing, bank teller, mechanic, etc. At the end of the six months they should be prepared to hold a full-time job and pay their own way. I would fully support that approach.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry but I would not want the person wiring my house or fixing my car to only have some sort of remedial 6 month course offered by the civil service. Yikes. Those are extremely specialized fields that require not only schooling but also apprenticeships, for safety reasons.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if they are preparing for mass unemployment.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Big-up CNS for posting the videos with the time-stamped start.

    CNS: I don’t always have the time but will do that when I can.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “Stacie Sybersma, the senior policy advisor in the new social development ministry, told PAC that some of the improvements in the draft legislation currently under review include a mandate that able bodied clients work, as that is not currently a requirement.

    “It leads to individuals who could be in the workforce not necessarily pursuing employment,” she said.”

    Geez…..ya think? How the hell was working not always a requirement?????? Definitely explains all the people that are able to sit around all day drinking beer and playing dominoes.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why not just get any able bodied person collecting welfare to pick up trash? They will just say they can’t find a job instead.

    Everyone wins with less garbage and it prevents any excuses.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The private sector should take on Caymanians and train them – just like they did years ago. Those same Caymanians stayed with those companies for 25, 30,40 etc. They did excellent work. I was one of those people that was hired right out of high school and trained. I was with the company for 28 years until they closed down in 2014.

    What about the immigration law – years ago, that said – there has to be 60% Caymanian and 40% work permit holders in a work place. Is that still being enforced?

    Now it seems – that these companies bring in their friends and family and take out work permits to give them the jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Caymanian unemployment debacle started around 2008, when the first slave-driver Caymanian business owner decided to apply for work permits for a particular nationality out of Southeast Asia, paying roughly 6 dollars less per hour than a Caymanian employee – and the immigration board approved the said permits. It went downhill from that, until we hit approximately 10% Caymanian unemployment c. 2011 or 2012.

      • Anonymous says:

        Correction. It started in 1989 with Hyatt.

        • Anonymous says:

          Nail on the head….and in every other field it has followed and wages growth has slowed to a crawl. It was happening in the US and UK and elsewhere. They called it GLobalization. Well eventually, the voters got tired in the UK and US and the immigrants got turned away and guess what is happening, soaring wages and labour shortages as the market rebalances. Inflation is also picking up too but mostly the wages are going up.

        • Anonymous says:

          Hyatt opened in ’86 and was staffed mostly by Americans and Irish, with some South Africans. The immigrants from the Southeast Asia country referred to did first came in the ’80s to work on a failed development in Newlands, but were hired in numbers by a local grocery store as checkout clerks. When other employers discovered that they were friendlier, were generally more educated, had better work ethic and better manners than Jamaicans, and would work for the same if not lower wages, the floodgates were opened. The number of jobs being created far exceeded the numbers of immigrants, so it wasn’t a matter of not enough jobs for Caymanians. It was, however, a case of employers wanting better employees for less money, so in that sense, it did have a negative effect on the employment of Caymanians. Keep in mind, though, that most of these jobs weren’t ones Caymanians aspired to, especially at a time when so many were taking advantage of tertiary educations.

      • Anonymous says:

        It actually started with Jacans in 1980’s. They were allowed permits (which they paid for + airfare) and sat by Flowers old block factory looking work.

  22. Anonymous says:

    What we are looking at here from the responses (or lack of adequate responses) provided by Ms. Echenique is a failure of leadership on her part and/or a failure of leadership on the part of the senior executives within the ministry. As this is the CIG there will be no accountability and we can expect national awards and bonuses to be handed out in short order.

  23. Anonymous says:

    We have tried something similar but it often ends up with the “human rights” lawyers having a field day with cases of people claiming that they are being forced into servitude 🙄

  24. Anonymous says:

    NO-NO-NO, this is not fair at all. How can you make us work as no one wants to pay the right salary.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Any chance of enforcing the Maintenance Act?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Sounds good on paper, but here’s how that will work:

    Caymanian bum in Kirk Market parking lot: I’m really hungry. Can you give me some money so I can buy some food.
    Me: Let’s go in the store and I’ll buy you some food.
    Bum: I don’t like the food here. Can you give me some money so I can go to Mango Tree?

    Caymanian bum to NAU: Can you give me some money so I can buy some food.
    NAU: You look like you’re able-bodied, so you need to get a job.
    Bum: I don’t like those jobs. Can you just give me some money?
    NAU: We can’t do that.
    Bum: You know that I vote, right? I’m calling (fill in MP name) and complaining about you.
    NAU: Ok, here’s some money.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have our own version in the UK where the workshy person calls their solicitor who claims that their client is being forced into servitude in a breach of their human rights …

    • Anonymous says:

      with all due respect what other Bum would you expect to find in Cayman? certainly not someone on a work permit right! You can hear the racism and cynicism in your comment. No need to elaborate on the nationality of the bum.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, all those expat bums begging at the supermarkets and wanting to go eat at Mango Tree are very annoying. How clever of you to figure out they can’t be Caymanian.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Suggestion: let the department granting the assistance mandate a needed govt job to qualify for the assistance while the able-bodied person is actively looking for permanent employment. For e.g., road/cemetery/park cleaning, job not done, then assistance done too.

    • Anonymous says:

      How about making sure you really are Caymanian before we give you any money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jobscayman should start listing all the job positions held by CIG firmament not currently attending to their duties: such as the 6 figure gatekeepers that still don’t think they need to keep financial controls, and the full-time website teams that haven’t updated government dept sites from 2006. Let’s try someone else for those positions.

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