Zane Desilva
Zane Desilva

At a recent breakfast meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Mr Brian Duperreault  spoke in his capacity as Chairman of the SAGE Commission and made some remarks in relation to the future welfare of our senior citizens which have given me cause for concern.

Mr Duperreault suggested that our seniors should be prepared to forego cost of living adjustments and that they should wait until the age of 68 before being eligible to receive a Government pension.

Whilst I fully appreciate the basis on which these remarks have been made and the gravity of the financial challenges which continue to face Bermuda, I also fully appreciate the immense contribution which has been made by our seniors to the development of Bermuda. 

Hard work 

The majority of our seniors were not born to a position of wealth but had to appreciate from a very early age that hard work was the only way forward.   How many older brothers and sisters had to work to help share the financial burden of sending their younger siblings through school? 

Over the years, many of our seniors have been able to purchase their own homes and finance their children’s education but this has required hard work, commitment and dedication. For many, this has been a long, hard road.

Most of our seniors were not fortunate enough to inherit wealth or be given family properties to fund their lives and those of their children. For them, hard work has been the only way.

Having a broad appreciation of our senior’s situation and their past contributions to our society is why during the fourteen years that the PLP were in Government, every effort was made to include our seniors and to ensure that they benefited from the buoyant economy.

FutureCare

The PLP Government increased pension payments to ensure they were at a respectable level and also took the necessary steps to  implement ‘FutureCare’ so that our seniors would not be put in a position where they had to make a choice between buying essentials like food or buying medicines when they are sick!

Unfortunately, there are still many seniors in our community who only make ends meet through the contributions of the Financial Assistance Department and for these people, FutureCare is essential.

This is why it is imperative that in any future policies it is essential that the welfare of our seniors is considered before the application of a ‘broad brush stroke’ approach.

Our seniors are an important part of our society and have contributed much to the success of our island nation and should not have to suffer any additional financial hardship. 

This is why great sensitivity must be shown when the Minister of Finance, Bob Richards, delivers the forthcoming national budget as further burdens should not be placed on those that can least afford it. 

Zane DeSilva is PLP MP for Constituency 29, Southampton East