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Minister of State for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, says that a progressive approach is being taken to dealing with persons with disabilities, as the Government moves to create opportunities for them to contribute to the society.
He said the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all facets of the society makes both practical and good business sense.
“We cannot build a country where 10 per cent of the population is unemployed or unengaged in any meaningful activity. The social and economic implications are far-reaching for the country,” Mr. Gallimore argued.

(L-R) Public Relations Manager at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ann-Marie Dobson (seated left); Jamaica Special Representative, World Bank, Badrul Haque; and Broadcaster, Patrick Lafayette, admire craft items produced by persons with disabilities that were on display at Abilities Day, held today (June 11) at the Abilities Foundation in St. Andrew.

He made the point in a speech read by Public Relations Manager at the Ministry, Ann-Marie Dobson, at the opening ceremony for Abilities Day held today (June 11) at the Abilities Foundation of Jamaica in St. Andrew.
Citing initiatives being undertaken, Mr. Gallimore informed that the finishing touches are being put on the Disabilities Bill to be taken to Parliament, shortly. The legislation is expected to influence how the country treats with persons with disabilities in Jamaica.
He noted further that the Abilities Foundation, through a number of training programmes, has also been preparing persons with disabilities to match the skills sets required for the job market.
Acknowledging that, regardless of their efforts, some persons with disabilities will still require assistance from the state, Mr. Gallimore said the Government is working to increase the number of such persons enrolled on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).

Public Relations Manager at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ann-Marie Dobson (left), makes a presentation on behalf of Minister of State for Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, at the opening ceremony for Abilities Day, held today (June 11) at the Abilities Foundation in St. Andrew. Looking on is Chairperson for the Abilities Foundation, Iris Soutar.

He informed that the number of registered PATH beneficiaries with disabilities is currently 7,831 and that the Ministry is working to increase that figure. For 2009, the Government expended $89.4 million to persons with disabilities and the budget has been increased to $92.4 million for the 2010/11 financial year.
Abilities Day is being used by the Abilities Foundation to raise awareness about the work of various organisations serving the community of disabled persons as well as the training programmes provided by the Foundation.
This year’s theme is ‘Motivation for Empowerment’. The day featured displays, a barbecue and a lunch-hour concert.