The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents
The elderly (persons 60 years of age and older) amount to 12.6 percent of the population and represent a doubling of the elderly population over the last 40 years. Persons are living and working much longer than before. The average life-span of a Vincentian male at birth is now 74 years and that of a woman is 75 years. All of this has profound implications, among other things, for social policy, retirement benefits and social security, health issues, and the economy. The ULP government recognises the condition, nature, and status of the elderly; our government has as a central focus, the protection, appropriate employment, love, and caring of the elderly. We truly have a tremendous debt of gratitude to pay to the elderly on account of their selfless building of our nation, our families, our communities.
Since 2001, among the major achievements of the ULP government are: Increasing the number of elderly persons on the two non-contributory pension arrangements at the NIS, including the Elderly Assistance Benefit which we initiated to assist former small-sized own-account workers, increasing significantly the number of the elderly on the state-operated Public Assistance programme -- our government increased, too, the monthly public assistance payment from $50 to $225, removing the monthly water-meter charge for persons over 65 years, if they are on public assistance, instituting the Home-Help- for-the-Elderly programme which covers some 400 elderly persons through 90 Helpers, building two Golden Years Activity Centres, beefing up geriatric care at the hospitals and health centres/clinics, providing free health services, including pharmaceutical products, through the state sector, for elderly persons; building homes nation-wide and distributing huge quantities of building materials for the deserving elderly; instituting the “Lives to Live” programme for persons, mainly elderly, who are physically or mentally challenged, reforming and sprucing up the Lewis Punnett Home, better protecting the security and safety of the elderly, providing community supports for the elderly, and elaborating a National Policy on the Elderly/Aging.
Over the next five years, the ULP government will:
✔ Implement further the comprehensive National Policy on the Elderly;
✔ Renovate extensively the Lewis Punnett Home; this is a priority;
✔ Build two more Golden Years Centres: One in Kingstown; the other in Marriaqua;
✔ Increase payments to recipients under the Non-Contributory NIS programmes and Public Assistance by at least $50 monthly over the next five years, starting with an increase of $25 in January 2016;
✔ Train more persons in the area of elderly care;
✔ Facilitate in several practical ways the development of quality private sector/civil society care of the elderly;
✔ Make sure that the pension benefits of elderly persons are protected through a stable currency, low-to-moderate inflation, and appropriate fiscal measures;
✔ Comply with all relevant international treaties/agreements to advance the cause of the elderly;
✔ Extend the period for optimal retirement for workers and reform the state-pension and NIS arrangements accordingly;
✔ Emphasise “citizen security” for elderly persons through the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) of the Police Force;
✔ Coordinate the work on the elderly with relevant regional and international organisations.
FOCUS ON THE ELDERLY
The ULP government has an emphatic focus on the elderly (60 years of age and over) who number 13,811 or 12.6 percent of the total population. This number has doubled since 1970, and the category of persons over 60 years of age is the fastest growing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This group of persons faces especial challenges which the ULP government has been addressing; but, as always, more needs to be done. Those who are over 70 years old, “the elderly aged”, particularly those with no structured family support, are quite vulnerable and must be accorded very special attention by government in concert with relevant civil society organisations. The ULP is, and will, always be with the elderly!