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The government is making available, a grant of J$10 million to the Combined Disabilities Association, to boost the organization’s loan programme for members who want to establish small businesses. A further J$5 million is also being provided to assist with the provision of medical support for the disabled.
The disclosure was made by Prime Minister Bruce Golding on Thursday (Feb. 21), during a meeting with representatives of the Combined Disabilities Association at Jamaica House. He said details of the arrangement and structure of the assistance package would be worked out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
Amidst concerns raised by the Association about the difficulty members experience in meeting their medical expenses, Mr. Golding said the National Health Fund would be asked to examine the possibility of creating a special programme for the disabled, given their peculiar health needs. He has also mandated Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, to address concerns that a number of disabled persons have problems registering for the PATH programme.
Mr. Golding has proposed the appointment of a designated officer within the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, to deal with issues relating to job retention for persons who are disabled and the retraining and redeployment of those who become disabled because of work related injuries.
Minister Audley Shaw has been asked to ensure that the matter is given special attention as it relates to the public service. The CDA representatives noted that the disabled are sometimes among the first to be affected in redundancy exercises and that, persons who become disabled on the job, are often faced with unemployment.
For their part, the Combined Disabilities Association has been asked to provide the Ministry of Labour and Social Security with a registry of the skills and qualifications of persons with disabilities. Minister Charles said he would be approaching the HEART Trust/NTA and the Jamaica Employers’ Federation, to see what support could be forthcoming in terms of training and employment.