Hayward gets labour portfolio in reshuffle
Backbench MP Jason Hayward was sworn in yesterday as the Minister of Labour as part of a surprise Cabinet reshuffle by the Premier.
Mr Hayward will take over responsibility for immigration, financial assistance and workforce development, earlier split between three ministries.
David Burt announced the changes at a swearing-in ceremony at Government House.
Jamahl Simmons, formerly the Minister without Portfolio responsible for communications, will leave the Cabinet, but he will become a junior minister and assist the Premier with communications.
Mr Burt took personal control of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission from Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister.
The Premier said the move was “consistent with my responsibilities for economic development”.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, was given authority over the two municipalities of Hamilton and St George.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, lost the Department of Immigration to Mr Hayward, but retained responsibility for border control, which will be amalgamated with Customs.
The Department of Workforce Development had been under the Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, which was held by Lovitta Foggo — now Minister of Community Affairs and Sport — and Financial Assistance was part of the health ministry.
Mr Burt said: “Make no mistake, the historic arguments and hardened positions on immigration in Bermuda may not have changed, but the economic impact of the pandemic means that there is an urgency in this area that demands the focus of a single minister and ministry.
“With the creation of this Ministry of Labour, I have determined to unite the areas of government that promote the training and employment of Bermudians with the unit that can serve to protect their interests when they seek employment for which they are qualified.”
Mr Burt added: “We must put our people back to work now and prepare those displaced by the pandemic to assume the jobs that will be created as we recover.
“Adding financial assistance to this mix will ensure that there is no gap between returning to work those able-bodied men and women who may have fallen on hard times.”
Mr Burt expanded on the changes at the regular Covid-19 briefing last night.
He said it made sense for the work-permit section of the Department of Immigration to be added to the same portfolio as the Department of Workforce Development.
He added: “Work permits are a regulation of labour matter and I think it works very well with the labour ministry.”
Mr Burt said the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office, intellectual property and the Cabinet Office policy and strategy section had been moved to Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, will also acquire the land valuation department and the land title registry from the Ministry of Public Works. Ms Foggo will take over charities and parish councils.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, will have social services added to her portfolio as Minister of Legal Affairs.
No changes were made to the portfolios of Diallo Rabain, the education minister, and Zane DeSilva, the tourism and transport minister.
The move marks a swift rise for Mr Hayward, formerly a senator, who was elected MP for Pembroke Central in a by-election only seven months ago.
The former president of the Bermuda Public Services Union highlighted economic development and “sensible immigration policies that balance the needs of Bermuda’s labour force and the best interests of the Bermudian people” in the run-up to the by-election.
Several of Mr Burt’s public statements since the start of the Covid-19 crisis have called for a rethink of Bermuda’s economy.
Mr Caines said last month there was a need to “review, reassess and re-evaluate our immigration policies and procedures in order to adapt to these unprecedented times”.
Mr Caines added that work permits would have to come under closer scrutiny.
Mr Burt said on Monday that the island’s hard-hit economy would be transformed, with some work-permit holders “returning home”.
•To read David Burt’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”.
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