FRIDAY, FEB. 24: Good afternoon Madame Premier, colleagues, and members of the media. I will briefly share a few highlights of items contained in our Ministry’s budget, based upon the national budget allocation for fiscal year 2012-13.
The Government recognizes that there is a continuing need to provide assistance to members of our community who find themselves in a financial deficit in their day to day lives. Accordingly, the budget allocated for financial assistance (including child day care allowance) for FY 2012-13 is $39.8 million.
As at December 2011, the key statistics for financial assistance were:
- Number of persons on financial assistance - 1363.
- Seniors – 522; Persons with disabilities – 523; Earnings low – 188; Able-bodied unemployed – 130.
- 21% of seniors on financial assistance live in a rest or nursing home.
- Average caseload per financial assistance worker - 143
- Number of parents receiving child day care allowance – 300
- Number of children in child day care allowance programme - 359.
Amendment to Financial Assistance Regulations 2004
Some seniors are experiencing financial hardship because they are ineligible to receive financial assistance benefits due to the fact that they are property owners. The November 2011 speech from the throne indicated that government would review the eligibility criteria for financial assistance in order to ensure that the mere fact of home ownership by seniors does not justify denial of financial assistance.
It has been observed that the amended regulations have had an adverse impact on seniors who are homeowners or who have an interest in real property, even though it was not intended to disadvantage such persons. Consequently, Government will amend the financial assistance regulations 2004 to allow seniors who are homeowners or who have an interest in real property to be eligible to be assessed for applicable financial assistance benefits. It is estimated that this may result in additional financial assistance costs of up to $250,000 in FY 2012/13 (accounted for in the budget allocation).
Lime Carifta Games
Bermuda will have the honour to host the 40th Lime Carifta Games at the National Sports Centre from April 6-9, 2012. This will be the fourth time that Bermuda will host these prestigious games, having hosted them in 1975, 1980 and 2004. The games will showcase some of the best youth track and field athletes from the Caribbean region in under-17 and under-20 categories. Many Bermudians who attended the 2004 Carifta Games will remember the superb performance displayed by Usain Bolt of Jamaica when he broke the under-20 record in the 200m sprint in a time of 19.93 sec, a record that still stands today. The Carifta Games promotes qualities of sportsmanship, fitness and friendship among youth from different countries and helps to build strong character. The Ministry has been allocated $416,000 in FY 2012/13 to support the Lime Carifta Games.