A Bill to amend the Health and Allied Professions and Services (Miscellaneous Penalty Provisions) Act, 2011, was tabled in the Senate on February 4, by Deputy Leader of Government Business, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson.
The Bill, which seeks to provide for an increase in fines for persons who provide medical and support services without proper registration, was passed with 12 amendments in the Lower House, on February 1.
Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, who piloted the Bill in the Lower House, had said that the penalties for violating the provisions have remained unchanged for decades, and no longer posed a serious deterrent against non-compliance.
"The purpose of the Bill is to amend the several pieces of legislation, administered by the Ministry of Health in order to increase the penalties under the legislation to a more realistic level, so as to deter persons from purporting to offer medical and support services without being properly registered or supervised by the relevant authorities," he explained.
Additionally, he said it is intended to encourage conformity with the statutory requirements, and allow the portfolio Minister to increase these penalties, from time to time, subject to affirmative resolution.
The Bill also makes provision for the amendment of certain "archaic and inhumane provisions" under the Leprosy Act.
Mr. Spencer had informed that a review of the legislation indicated that its provisions were mainly centred on the institutionalisation and treatment of persons with leprosy, also known as Hanson’s Disease, in a leprosarium. He informed that although there are still persons living in Jamaica with leprosy, the Government no longer operates a leprosarium.
Senator Nelson also tabled a Bill to amend the Protected Disclosures Act, 2010. The Bill seeks to protect individuals who disclose wrongdoing in organisations. This whistle blower legislation is intended to cover all forms of misconduct that can be reported within an organisation and will address incidents of mismanagement that has passed or is imminent.
This legislation is part of an overall initiative by Government to eradicate corruption, promote accountability and transparency, and reduce opportunities for improper conduct in the workplace.
CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH