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Don’t block Bermudians from getting ahead

Diallo Rabain, Devonshire North Central by-election candidate for the Progressive Labour Party

While some claim the economy is in recovery, for far too many this recovery has not led to new jobs or new opportunities to earn a living, make ends meet and feed their families.

Out on the doorsteps of Constituency 13, the real stories of the real people affected by the One Bermuda Alliance’s real failure to keep their promise to create 2,000 jobs are heartbreaking.

One woman we met has been unemployed for three years and has been forced to go on financial assistance. During her time on financial assistance, she hasn’t stood idle. Instead, she has taken every opportunity to retool her skills via the courses recommended by the Department of Workforce Development and earned numerous certificates to demonstrate her successful completion of those courses.

To keep busy, she volunteers with the Mirrors programme and has tried to earn a few extra dollars by sewing.

Last month through hard work, she managed to earn an extra $250 through her sewing ability. She, of course reported this income to the Department of Financial Assistance. As a reward for her honesty, her Belco subsidy was slashed and no money was placed on her food card.

Like so many Bermudians, my constituent wants to work. She wants to pay her own way and she doesn’t want to be a burden on the taxpayer. She has been honest, played by the rules and sought to improve her condition through hard work. Yet she is still unable to get ahead.

This case, and others that my Progressive Labour Party colleagues and I have come across while canvassing, reinforces the need for comprehensive financial assistance reform. A financial assistance programme designed for a Bermuda of the past, with overemployment and a booming economy, does not reflect today’s reality and the needs of today’s Bermuda. Financial assistance, like all government programmes, must adapt to the times to maintain effectiveness.

We further believe that we must eliminate government red tape, further enabling people such as my constituent to start their own businesses, employ themselves and, with hard work and sacrifice, employ others.

We must also diversify the economy, create conditions that encourage investment and job creation, creating jobs for every Bermudian that wants to work.

It is stories such as the one shared by my constituent that strengthen our commitment to building a Bermuda that works for Bermudians; a Bermuda of fairness, opportunity and hope for everyone, and where the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves.