Saturday 22 September, 2018

Don't keep us waiting Mr. Minister, says disabled community

Minister of Social Care and Constituency Empowerment, Steven Blackett (center) in conversation with members of the Calvary Movarian Church.

Minister of Social Care and Constituency Empowerment, Steven Blackett (center) in conversation with members of the Calvary Movarian Church.

President of the Barbados Council of Disabled Persons, Maria Holder-Small is hoping it does not take years for government to lay legislation in Parliament which would see equal employment rights for those with disabilities. 

Holder-Small spoke to Loop News on the sidelines of a church service to mark the start of the month of the disabled at the Calvary Moravian Church on Sunday. 

She said with the issues of rising unemployment, it has become increasingly difficult for disabled persons to secure gainful employment. Further to that, she also said unequal pay was another area of concern for those who do find jobs.

"You hear of abled bodied persons complain that it is hard for them to find jobs, it is even harder for the disabled. When you acquire a disability, you are no longer looked at as an employee having an asset, you are looked at as a liability. So we have the other side of the coin where persons are dismissed because they develop a disability." 

During his address to the congregation, Minister of Social Care and Constituency Empowerment, Steven Blackett said some business places have made efforts to incorporate members of the differently abled community by engaging them in full time employment however he added there was still much more work to done. 

Though not giving a timeline, he said the Ministry is on the cusp of laying two key pieces of legislation, Employment Rights (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill and Building Standards Bill.  

Referencing the recent amendment to the Road Traffic Act, Holder-Small noted it took 14 years for the amendments, to allow parking for disabled persons, to be passed in Parliament. She said the members of the disabled community are hoping for a speedier process this time around. 

"We have that [legislation] there waiting to be looked at. So we are hoping that this one doesn't take that long."

Holder-Small said there are a total of 18 organizations within the Council who are counting on the much needed relief from government in regards to the country's labour laws.