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  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says $135 million will be spent to build new wards at the Manchester and Portland infirmaries, commencing this financial year.
  • He said the funds will be sourced from property taxes and the Equalization Fund.
  • He said the plan is to establish a proper shelter management system, rather than having to resort to schools and community centres during emergencies.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says $135 million will be spent to build new wards at the Manchester and Portland infirmaries, commencing this financial year.

He said the funds will be sourced from property taxes and the Equalization Fund.

The male and female wards at the Portland Infirmary will be designed to house 55 residents in a private-home setting, which will also feature a nurses’ station and an examination room.

Grab bars and ramps will be placed in all appropriate locations, to ensure access to all mobility aids, while energy efficiency will be promoted by the use of solar power and LED lighting.

The facility will cost approximately $80 million.

The female ward at the Manchester Infirmary, which will have similar features, will house 43 residents. It will be constructed at a cost of $55 million.

Minister McKenzie informed that improvements will be done to the administrative offices at the Santa Cruz Infirmary at a cost of $25 million.

“We are committed to the development of all our infirmaries as places where our people can live in and be cared for with dignity. Many of the occupants of these facilities have served this country, in the private and public sectors, for many years. They have worked for us; now, we will work for them,” he said.

Proper Shelter Management

Turning to disaster preparedness, Minister McKenzie told the House that the Ministry is reviewing the shelter stock across the island, especially in disaster-prone areas.

He said the plan is to establish a proper shelter management system, rather than having to resort to schools and community centres during emergencies.

Minister McKenzie called on residents who reside in vulnerable areas to obey evacuation orders issued, noting that applicable laws will be enforced to ensure full compliance.

Mr. McKenzie also expressed concern about the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) to which Jamaica has paid over $462 million annually, since its inception in 2007, but is yet to receive a payout.

He said he has asked the CARICOM review team to look at the issue and make an appropriate recommendation.

The insurance scheme involves CARICOM member countries and some other Caribbean territories, provides cover to countries hit by natural disasters.