MPs debate economic disparity
The impact of economic disparity was at the heart of debate in the House of Assembly on Friday.
During an often impassioned series of speeches, MPs said that action must be taken to address the issues facing the island.
The Motion to Adjourn discussion was launched by Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, who said that more must be done do give young Bermudians an opportunity to turn their lives around.
And he called on those who have succeeded in their lives to serve as mentors, saying: “Allow them to see success and opportunities though mentorship.”
Progressive Labour Party backbencher Rolfe Commissiong noted the economic challenges faced by the less fortunate in the community, particularly blacks.
While he noted that the teachers and public service workers unions had both accepted a 2.5 per cent pay increase, Mr Commissiong referenced figures by Craig Simmons that showed the cost of living had increased by 12 per cent since the organisations last received a rise.
“Imagine what that level of income inequality is doing to those with low incomes,” he said. “Imagine what that income inequality is doing in those economically vulnerable communities and the families within them.
“Unless we take on the underlying issues behind economic inequality, we are setting ourselves up for more of the same.”
Mr Commissiong added: “The status quo is not serving all of our people so we need to address this issue.”
Leah Scott, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, urged her fellow MPs to lead by example and become mentors, noting her own son’s fall to drugs.
“My son’s mentor was a drug dealer,” she said. “I had him on the list for Big Brothers, Big Sisters at the age of five, but by the age of 18 he still didn’t have one.”
She urged MPs and the public to get involved, saying: “We cannot get change if we are not doing anything different.
“For the men of this House, if you are not mentoring anybody, find someone to mentor. Get out there and do something with our young black men so it’s not the drug dealers making deposits in their lives.”
Michael Scott, PLP backbencher, responded that he was not “prepared to engage in ineffective window dressing”, arguing that members need to address the root cause of the problems.
Mr Scott said half of the island is living paycheque to paycheque with the cost of living continuing to rise, and black families disproportionately affected.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin of the OBA said that she appreciated Mr Scott’s reasoning, but said we should not wait until economic conditions improve to act.
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