In the book of Deuteronomy, mention is made of a “...nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young.”

Over the past six months, the OBA have turned Bermuda into a 21st century version of that, “nation of fierce countenance,” turning from care and compassion for our seniors to callous disregard.

Since taking office the OBA have:

Allowed BELCO rates to rise;

• Increased the cost of vehicle licensing for seniors;

• Raised insurance rates;

• Raised FutureCare rates on vulnerable seniors;

• Refused to protect Seniors from age discrimination.

Each of these moves have impacted substantially on many Bermudians and had a real and dramatic effect on the quality of life of our seniors.

Many who were just getting by before on a fixed income are now seeing their savings eaten away, their bills mounting and being forced to decide between food, keeping their lights on and essential medicine.

In the midst of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, it is understandable that each of us should be willing to contribute towards getting Bermuda’s economy moving again. Real, shared sacrifice represents the best and fairest way for all of us to survive.

Unfortunately, the OBA’s version of shared sacrifice so far, has been One Bermuda that gets all the support, all the benefits, all the perks and pockets the profits, while everyone else sees our wages, benefits and opportunities slashed and burned.

In the One Bermuda that the OBA is building, compassion for our young, our seniors and our island’s most vulnerable is fast becoming a thing of the past.

A clear choice

We believe that how we treat our seniors and our youth, says a lot about us as a people. We can either be a land that views ourselves as our brother’s keeper or one where it is every man for himself. The choice is clear.

Standing on our seniors instead of standing up for fairness, justice and equality will lead to a Bermuda that is unworthy of being passed on to the next generation.

We can reverse this trend by speaking out, making noise and fighting to get the burden of shared sacrifice more evenly spread around. First, we must pass an amendment to the Human Rights Act protecting our seniors from discrimination and stop them from being forced out into the street when they are still capable of contributing. Then, we need to increase the prescription benefit on FutureCare as the current rate is simply too low to meet the needs of many of our seniors. To fund that increase, we could look at holding the OBA to their promise to reduce the size of Cabinet, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be better spent on the people.

Premier Alex Scott once said, “Bermuda works best, when Bermuda works together.” In these difficult times we cannot expect the burden to be borne only by certain segments of our society. Let us speak out and fight for real shared sacrifice and a Bermuda that makes caring for our seniors a priority. 

Zane DeSilva is Shadow Health Minister