Exodus – movement of our people
Often, far too often, during canvassing over the past few years when we are looking for fellow Bermudians we are finding out that they no longer reside in Bermuda.
We do not yet have exact government figures. However, by our own canvassing figures we have found out that more than 3,000 or close to 10 per cent of born Bermudians have moved abroad to Britain.
During a recent trip to Britain, we had an opportunity to speak to several Bermudians who have resided in England for quite a few years. In speaking to these persons, they shared quite a bit of valuable insight into the demographics and reasons why persons are migrating that way.
These are some of the preliminary findings that stand out about those who have moved to Britain:
• Bermudians of all ethnicity
• Bermudians of all ages and social classes
• Bermudians of all professions and technical ability
• The clear majority of those now residing in Britain live in areas such as Birmingham, Manchester or Warrington
When asked why did they leave Bermuda, a variety of reasons were cited:
• Cost of living in Bermuda
• Employment opportunities
• Better education options for themselves and their children
• Work experience
Upon further examination, we did some price comparisons between “Great” Bermuda and Great Britain:
• One month of 5GB cell service in Bermuda: $160 v $40 in Britain
• One week's groceries in Bermuda for a family of four: $300 v $100 in Britain
• One month of rent in Bermuda for a two-bedroom: $2,000 v $1,000 in the North of England
• One month of internet in Bermuda: $100-plus v $50 in Britain
• One month of healthcare costs in Bermuda: $600 to $1,500 v $0 in Britain
Clearly the cost of living in Britain is a fraction of the cost of living here in Bermuda. Bermudians can gain employment, albeit at a lower pay scale, yet still live a comfortable life.
The unfortunate fact is many of those who have emigrated to Britain will not be returning to Bermuda. As such, we must ask ourselves some pertinent questions:
• How is this affecting Bermuda? Prime example, a massive drop in public school population
• What is the drain on our financial and human capital over the next few decades?
• What must we do to reverse this precarious situation?
Here are some suggestions going forward:
• Accurate numbers of Bermudians emigrating must be taken via departure forms
• Beyond the annual Premier's reception in London, we must send representatives to meet Bermudians in the northern regions
• Support via the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, and the Department of Tourism for the Annual Bermuda Day events held in London and Liverpool
• A possible study done to gather pertinent and quantifiable information from those who have emigrated to Britain
Clearly, we are on the cusp of an irreversible exodus that we can no longer ignore.
If we do not address the root causes of this emigration, we could quite possibly find ourselves losing up to 20 per cent of our born population over the next decade.
This will not bode well for several key issues such as our birthrate, retail sales, landlords with apartments to rent and our payroll tax base.
This Progressive Labour Party government was elected to look out for the concerns of all Bermudians. Those at home and those abroad.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at email@example.com