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Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Senator Floyd Morris has said that despite the initiatives put forward to enable disabled persons to function effectively, more needs to be done to protect their rights.
The State Minister, who was speaking at a regional consultation on the National Disability Act, held at the University of the West Indies on (July 31) said that some of the challenges faced by the disabled are deep and systemic.
“They come because of the stereotypical images that individuals in the society place on persons with disabilities. They do not see us as individuals who can offer a meaningful contribution to the productive capacity of our country,” Senator Morris said.
“Often times I hear people from the disabled community quarrelling that the government is not providing employment for them. But I want you to understand in the context of a market economy, the government is the facilitator in terms of providing the economic growth and therefore developing the economy,” he continued.
Senator Morris added that it “is the private sector that has the responsibility to create employment.”
“But what do we have? It is a situation where the majority of individuals who are disabled and are employed in Jamaica today are employed in the public sector. It is the government that is the largest employer of persons with disabilities in Jamaica today,” the Minister informed.
He challenged and appealed to the private sector to “take on more persons with disabilities in terms of employment.”
“No government can employ all or absorb all the labour that is associated with the disabled community,” Senator Morris stressed.
In addition he challenged the disabled community to make use of the training opportunities that are available, such as those provided by the HEART Trust/NTA.
“Make sure whatsoever training opportunities are available you make the best use of it, so when the job comes you can be amongst those with a certification to show that you are certified,” Senator Morris stated.
In relation to the Act, he said, “This piece of legislation will serve to protect the rights of disabled persons to participate in a meaningful way in the day to day activities of the society. We want to ensure that more disabled persons are employed.”
He said that the legislation will “assist in a far way in changing some of the negative perceptions and attitudes towards persons with disabilities.”
The National Disability Act is aimed at protecting the rights of and providing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities has organised a series of workshops designed to facilitate feedback on the National Disability Act. Among the areas that are being explored at the workshop are employment, accessibility, health care, education, and enforcement (of the Act).