PLP offers free day care to needy

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The Progressive Labour Party unveiled its election manifesto yesterday with pledges to provide free day care for Bermudian families, free bus and ferry rides for all and improved health insurance for seniors.

Premier Ewart Brown told party supporters gathered at Alaska Hall that the Patterns of Progress platform contained no "grandiose promises", but set out a vision for keeping the Country on the right track under the PLP.

He said the 48-page document contained "two bold initiatives designed to significantly enhance the quality of life for Bermudians at their earliest years and during their golden years".

  • <B>Promises: </B>Deputy Premier Paula Cox addresses Progressive Labour Party supporters on the party's platform at Alaska Hall yesterday as Premier Ewart Brown (left) applauds.

    Promises: Deputy Premier Paula Cox addresses Progressive Labour Party supporters on the party's platform at Alaska Hall yesterday as Premier Ewart Brown (left) applauds.


The Progressive Labour Party unveiled its election manifesto yesterday with pledges to provide free day care for Bermudian families, free bus and ferry rides for all and improved health insurance for seniors.

Premier Ewart Brown told party supporters gathered at Alaska Hall that the Patterns of Progress platform contained no "grandiose promises", but set out a vision for keeping the Country on the right track under the PLP.

He said the 48-page document contained "two bold initiatives designed to significantly enhance the quality of life for Bermudians at their earliest years and during their golden years".

The first is the free day care scheme which would be Island-wide, means-tested and would use existing facilities and churches. Asked how much it would cost, Dr. Brown said: "We do not have a figure but guess what? Whatever it costs we will do it."

He said the idea was to take away the financial burden of paying for day care from young Bermudians.

The other initiative is Future Care, a scheme which Dr. Brown said would provide comprehensive health care and insurance beyond what's currently offered by HIP for seniors aged 65 and above.

He said it would give "access to effective, safe and affordable health care coverage at a time when it's needed most".

"We are confident that Future Care will represent one of the most progressive initiatives ever undertaken by a Bermudian government," he said. "A PLP government will introduce Future Care in the next year. We intend to make the dreaded prospect of healthcare insecurity a thing of the past for our senior citizens."

Other key promises from the party included interest-free down payments to 500 first-time house buyers, a framework to allow the number of hotel beds to rise to 10,000, the possibility of reintroducing a technical school, an anti-gang initiative and tax incentives for businesses which promote economic advancement for Bermudians.

Dr. Brown was joined on the stage at Alaska Hall by Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler, Education Minister Randy Horton, Deputy Premier Paula Cox, Public Safety and Housing Minister David Burch and election candidate for Smith's South, Jane Correia.

Ms Cox told the audience that free bus and ferry transportation would be introduced in the next term if the PLP wins the General Election on December 18.

The Finance Minister also said the party would introduce a green paper on energy to explore how Bermuda could reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Lt. Col. Burch promised that the party would meet the demand for single-person apartments, upgrade landlord and tenant legislation, make serving in the Bermuda Regiment an "increasingly attractive option" and introduce a "homegrown anti-gang initiative".

Mr. Butler said the successful Mirrors programme for "at risk youth" would be expanded, a youth strategy to help all young Bermudians prosper would be unveiled and a careers centre would be opened.

He also pledged that a national drugs strategy to reduce supply and demand would be launched in the next term, that buildings and landmarks would continue to be renamed after the Island's heroes and that work to improve race relations — including the Big Conversation initiative — would carry on.

Mr. Horton said work to overhaul the public school system would continue and that an annual review of every school would be carried out and the results published.

He reiterated promises to provide a free Bermuda College education for all Islanders and to increase university scholarships. And he said that a technical vocational school would be reintroduced.

Ms Correia told the meeting that the PLP had delivered on promises made before the 2003 election.

"The forward momentum is undeniable," she said. "The motivation of this party is based on progress. Progress for the people."

The United Bermuda Party – which releases its full manifesto today – said the PLP's promises would require increased taxation.

A party spokesman said: "People need to be reminded that there is no free lunch. For every dollar the PLP Government gives away in freebies, they need to collect a dollar in taxes.

"This is a platform that will certainly raise taxes. It also has the potential to dramatically increase Bermuda's debt. The United Bermuda Party is committed to reducing people's taxes.

"This is a basic difference between the two parties that people should keep in mind as they go to the polls."

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