Vote OBA, if you care about...
Our Social Contract
The real measure of a good society is the government’s ability to provide decent, affordable healthcare, a healthy environment and to protect the most vulnerable.
Indeed, the term ‘vulnerability of small states’ is one increasingly mentioned as countries like ours face existential threats from external, but real, factors which see Bermuda facing more hurricanes, seeing changes to our sea life and general degradation of environments.
It is called climate change.
Today, sadly, too many Bermudians, faced with critical illnesses and beginning to lose hope as they struggle to survive, are starting to question what is good about our Island.
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that public healthcare and an effective social support system are matters of national security and utmost economic priority. In this respect, the Burt administration has failed.
Social provisions have long moved from just medical care to include wellness, healthy environments, ‘greening’ and more than basic support to prevent people from falling through the cracks.
The OBA intends to provide a social platform that offers an affordable, efficient, properly regulated healthcare system; the best small-island environment that emphasises the incorporation of green practices and sustainable development; the promotion of physical and mental health; a war on non-communicable diseases through education and healthy eating and a comprehensive support system of monetised and institutional support for individuals and families.
Our aim, simply, is to have an equitable sector that is informed by data. No one should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford it or not have support for daily living because the government cannot afford it.
It will require extensive discussion and deep collaboration with all parties, private and public, particularly the insurance sector, and medical and pharmaceutical professionals.
The OBA’s competence in the sound management of the economy is an overriding component in delivering the necessary social contract with the people. Our inclusive, consensus-driven approach – as opposed to PLP dictatorial bullying – is also vital.
Healthcare & Wellness
Healthcare costs have spiralled over the last two decades in Bermuda, changing from a system that was affordable for the majority of Bermudians to one where the cost represents the second largest household expenditure each month.
Healthcare in Bermuda has become a business for many, rather than the helping service that healthcare professionals intended it to be when they entered into this field.
Healthcare in Bermuda is a complex system of piecemeal legislation and outdated models that need to be addressed in order to ensure a fair and equitable healthcare system with universal care coverage for all.
The changes to healthcare must look at the healthcare delivery systems, the costs of delivery, the makeup of our population, tackling chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure, with a long term focus on diet, exercise, mental care and continual engagement of our seniors to stimulate their minds and keep them active.
The OBA believes that all Bermudians should have access to affordable, high quality healthcare.
Healthcare costs need to be fully transparent and linked to the quality of service and outcomes that we are receiving from our healthcare providers.
The OBA is committed to working with all stakeholders on healthcare reform with the interests of all Bermudians in mind. Bermudians need to be part of the collective process to control the Island’s healthcare costs.
The OBA will also:
- Ensure that every Bermudian has health insurance coverage that is evidenced-based, managed by independent professionals and not by the Government as per the Burt administration’s proposed, but now on-hold, unified scheme.
- Implement a “Unique Patient Identifier” (UPI) for everyone in Bermuda. This will ensure that everyone has coverage, reduce duplication of services and drive down the cost of healthcare for all. It will assist in services being streamlined and produce a true number of those that are uninsured or underinsured to develop solutions to reduce this figure.
- Create a National Physical Fitness Programme to encourage well-being, sound health, exercise, and good personal diet, from primary school throughout life.
- Enact a Health Bill of Rights so all Bermudians understand their health insurance coverage, even if sourced through their employer, and what exactly they are paying for, both out-of-pocket and through insurance.
- This Bill of Rights will also include the right to certain information such as your physician’s credentials, complaints against healthcare providers and the health outcomes from your provider.
- Educating patients and consumers will also allow them to vote with their feet and with their wallets for high-value plans and providers.
- Work with healthcare providers to ensure that healthcare reform results in improved population health and more affordable healthcare.
- Allow supplemental health insurance coverage to move with employees who change jobs.
- Legislate that insurance plans that offer mental health coverage must cover it in the same way as medical coverage and not discriminate or offer lesser coverage for mental health services.
- Introduce mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions on policies over and above the government-legislated plans.
- Ensure that children can stay on their parents’ health policy until at least the age of 25, regardless of whether the child is still a student.
- Ensure funding for Bermudians to enter the healthcare field for employment, thus improving employment opportunities for
- Bermudians and reducing our dependency on work permit holders in healthcare.
- Provide additional assistance to those who, for whatever reason, simply cannot afford insurance.
- Introduce a programme that specifically targets non-communicable diseases, underpinned with food cost reductions for healthy living.
The vulnerability of small island states is increasingly becoming a stark reality due to environmental damage. Climate change and other impacts must be now factored into every possible aspect of our planning, as a matter of policy.
Our environment is one of our greatest resources and needs to be protected for our future generations. Sustainable development must become more than a catchphrase – it must underpin the treatment of our natural environment and the OBA will demonstrate its commitment to that with the introduction of low impact inputs, including renewable energy components, that improve efficiency and combat environmental destruction.
We must also position our people and Island to benefit from the immense potential of the green and blue economies.
The OBA will:
- Position Bermuda as a world green centre, working with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), promoting it as a global leader for marine studies and as a leader in the green and climate change movements, with a think tank and annual conferences.
- Create well-designed policies that will strengthen social protection and support green investment that is financially viable and conducive to economic growth.
- Create new markets by stimulating demand for green technologies, goods, and services, thereby creating new job opportunities.
- Implement a community fish market, to assist fishermen with sales and make enforcement easier for fisheries officers.
- Properly fund the fishery wardens and change legislation to ensure prosecution of those who violate environmental legislation.
- Introduce legislation to first reduce and then eliminate single-use plastics.
- Work closely with farmers to maximize their ability to utilize existing zoned agricultural land and consider tax incentives, payroll tax exemptions and planning changes to stimulate the local food production market. This would include:
- Providing vertical farming loans and hydroponic farming support to entrepreneurs.
- Providing land tax reductions for home food production gardens in proportion to land used for such production.
- Enhancing planning laws and making necessary amendments to make agricultural production as easy as possible.
- Re-examining cannabis growing legislation to ensure that any legalisation would provide real entrepreneurial opportunities.
- Supporting sustainable fish and shellfish farming.
Protecting our most vulnerable citizens
The OBA’s mission is to provide as much support as possible to the vulnerable in our society in a way that ensures their dignity and pride remains intact.
Foundationally, we will make economically prudent decisions that will maintain confidence in our country.
The reality is, unless there is a strong economy, everything else fails – and the most vulnerable feel this most.
Seniors, for instance, do not want loans at the age of 70.
The OBA believes that there must be the necessary guardianship of the product of the hard work and worth of our seniors by protecting their earnings and assets.
The only way to do that is with strong economic hands.
The OBA will offer a combination of legal provisions, direct support, community interaction, training and partnerships, the ultimate aim of which is to provide our people with practical and emotional support, tools and life skills to advance them from welfare to wealth.
Much of the assistance to the vulnerable comes from private individuals and the Third Sector – community and charitable organisations – and these will be fully engaged in the development of a comprehensive and flexible approach to assisting our vulnerable.
The OBA will:
- Provide a tax regime for donations to a special fund, the proceeds of which will be dedicated to assisting the vulnerable.
- Provide special support to community, church and other volunteer groups so that they can keep executing the vital interventions they deliver, whether food baskets or counselling.
- Advocate for the establishment of a non-governmental organization (NGO) that would act as a liaison between the helping government departments, schools and the third sector organisations to triage the needs of our most vulnerable.
- The OBA would ringfence an annual grant amount to be paid to this NGO, in an amount to be determined following the relevant data analysis of what is needed by the Third Sector as a whole.
- Promote the development of plans to encourage the Civil Service to give more time in community service as part of their own development.
The OBA will also:
- Ensure that the protection of seniors remains a top priority in light of our aging population, including pegging the social insurance pension benefits for seniors to the cost of living, to ensure seniors don’t lose ground.
- Establish a Seniors Advocate Office to protect the interests and needs of seniors.
- Invest greater resources for social insurance enforcement to ensure that employers meet their required obligations for their employees’ pension contributions.
- Promote the construction of transitional living residences for seniors.
- Extend the renewal of driver’s licensing requirements, raising the age when seniors need a medical exam and driving test for renewal of their licence from 65 to 70.
- Promote cohesive solutions by establishing a Domestic Violence Council, with representation from Social Workers and the Vulnerable Persons Unit of the Bermuda Police Service.
- Establish a special crisis facility for victims of domestic abuse.
- Introduce mandatory training for teachers and community workers to detect child abuse.
- Create a Caregiver Resource Centre to provide guidance and support on issues of stress management, training, available resources and education on subjects such as dementia.
- Provide caregiver allowances to assist with meal support, home visitors, cleaning services and household renovations to improve accessibility.
- Work in partnership with the Third Sector, e.g. charities, churches and social entrepreneurs, to create more long-term care opportunities and seniors’ social centres.
- Ensure that Bermuda has a proper emergency and transitional housing facility for individuals and families in need, preferably in conjunction with an operator in the charitable sector.
- Ensure that mandatory counselling is required for those convicted of violent or sexual offences as part of parole requirements.
- Widen the prohibited jobs for registered sex offenders.
- Ensure that all allegations of child abuse reported to the Department of Child and Family Services are equally shared with the Bermuda Police Service.
- Strengthen the laws around workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.
- Amend the Criminal Code to outlaw cyber bullying.
- Promote and facilitate the advancement of the differently-abled by, among other things, ensuring physical access to buildings and transport, job opportunities and equal access to all things Bermudian.
- Examine a special regime for family care givers.
- Introduce a Home Help programme for seniors without other support systems.
- Establish a Poverty Alleviation Committee
- Execute a Families First programme, which will include job preferences for unemployed parents and advanced parental training for young parents.