Labour Minister Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said the government must take steps to ensure that the benefits and allowances of seniors and government retirees match inflation.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on October 25, Turnbull highlighted that many seniors and government retirees who left the workforce decades ago are struggling to meet their daily needs. He said the government must improve the allowances given to these residents who’ve played a pivotal role in building the society.
“If you look at persons like the educators of the past — principals and teachers who walked from East End to Cane Garden Bay then take a boat to Jost Van Dyke for $10 weekly or monthly; those people are now retired and the cost of living is going up but their benefits don’t go up. We expect them to survive? How?” Turnbull asked.
He said by raising the benefits and allowances paid to seniors and retirees, the government would be honouring them.
“I know we would have to consider how we implement something like this but we are talking about our history, our heritage. Our seniors are asked to live on retirement allowances and benefits way below even the minimum wage that we have in this territory,” Turnbull stated.
The government member pointed out that when asked, many seniors don’t speak about their financial struggles as they would prefer to stress how thankful they are.
However, Turnbull says if elected leaders listened closely, they’d realise that there is a need that must be filled to improve the lives of seniors.
Turnbull’s call comes amid a recent complaint from Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley that funding the Commission of Inquiry
) proposed reforms has proven to be a financial challenge for the government of the BVI.