WEDNESDAY, NOV. 7: It’s too bad an approaching election is the only thing that seems to get the Government focused on the people’s business.

The recent announcement of a Jobs Corps youth work programme is a case in point.

The programme, which aims to help young people develop the skills needed to engage in full-time work, is very much the people’s business. It’s a good idea that needs a strong and genuine commitment to make it work. But is that what we’ve got — a genuine commitment? One has to wonder given the history.

The Government announced the Jobs Corps plan on October 19, the day after a labour survey reported an unemployment rate of 36% for young Bermudians between the ages of 16 and 24

At first, the announcement came across as a quick and sound response to a very serious challenge for young Bermudians.

But the idea of a Job Corps was first raised by the Government in the summer of 2010 – more than two years ago. But nothing more was heard about getting this much-needed programme up and running until two weeks ago when the programme was announced — or should I say “re-announced” — as if it was a new idea.

My colleagues and I have often been critical of the Government for its lack of urgency on the business of the people. The Job Corps re-announcement is just one more thing to add to a list that includes:

Education Reform: It took five years to bring the recommendations of the 2007 Hopkins Report before the House of Assembly.

Crime: We have long recommended Operation Ceasefire be brought Bermuda to combat rising crime. We are still waiting for Government to implement its programme, despite a promise by the National Security Minister a year ago he would do so.

Public Safety: It took nine years after a tragic accident for Government to amend the Motor Car Act to improve public safety.

Jobs, education, crime, road safety – these are all issues that impact the lives of Bermudians each and every day; yet in each case Government did not move with any urgency to get jobs done.

Regiment

I suppose you can add the Bermuda Regiment to the electioneering list given that after years of inaction it recently announced its intention to review conscription.

It is time Bermuda had a Government focused just on the business of the people, and doing so with a sense of urgency.

That means creating jobs, improving education and making neighbourhoods and roads safer — and doing so immediately, not waiting two, or five, or nine years to act.  

Bermuda doesn’t need an election-time government. It needs a full-time government focussing on no other business but the people’s business.  Our situation is urgent. Thousands are hurting, opportunity is vanishing and hope is disappearing. We simply can’t afford another five years of drift and inaction. The challenges we face today are far too serious.

The OBA is ready to do the people’s business, moving us forward together, with both hands on the wheel, leaving no one behind.

• Craig Cannonier is Leader of the OBA.