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Minister vows to put needs of children first

Minister Glenn Blakeney has vowed to help strengthen Bermudian families by putting the needs of children first.

The Minister of Youth, Families and Sports has today highlighted the Throne Speech initiatives that focus on “healthy families reflecting healthy communities”.

The scope of the Bermuda Family Council, which serves in an advisory capacity to the Government, will also be expanded. It is to be made into a statutory body to investigate all areas of family life, including what is happening in “dysfunctional” homes.

Mr Blakeney said the Council would also put forward solutions for areas of concern.

He said: “Good parenting skills are a cornerstone to family stability … One of the key priorities of the Council will be to develop and promote effective parenting skills as a means to help and strengthen the Bermudian family”.

The Council will be asked to recommend a way to bring in shared parenting which refers to a “collaborative arrangement in which the care of the children is equal or substantially shared between the parents”.

It has to be decided whether shared parenting is introduced under amendments to the Children Act 1998 or as stand-alone legislation.

Mr Blakeney also pointed out that the Department of Human Affairs would “examine the feasibility” of introducing an Equality Act to address sexual orientation discrimination.

As for age discrimination, Mr Blakeney said a review of how widespread the problem is was underway and research into how it is outlawed in other countries is being carried out. He said age discrimination legalisation would be included in Government’s national strategy on ageing.

Mr Blakeney also discussed the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) to help the unemployed aged 17 to 25 and the review of the eligibility criteria for financial assistance so that over 65s are not automatically excluded due to property ownership.

At the same press conference, Health Minister Zane DeSilva said his Ministry was focusing on insurance reform so that “no insured person should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford to pay the healthcare provider up front and then wait to be reimbursed by the insurer”.

Mr DeSilva said two meetings had already been held between insurers and health service providers and there was “broad support for this reform”.

The Minister also said they were transforming the Standard Hospital Benefit to the Standard Health Benefit. This will include services at the hospital and outside.

He said: “We want a Standard Health Benefit that will be able to stand alone as a health insurance policy and provide the policy holder with viable health coverage”.

The Health Ministry is also looking at whether Government Clinics can be used for primary care, including dentistry.

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Published November 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm (Updated November 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm)

Minister vows to put needs of children first

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