Jamaican Government commit to assist vulnerable citizens impacted by COVID-19

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Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda says Government is committed to assisting the most vulnerable persons who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

He said that up to the end of March, more than J$9 billion (US$58.6 million) was expended for cash grant payments under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), representing a 40 percent increase over the fiscal year 2019/2020.

Minister Samuda told the House of Representatives that in keeping with the Government’s commitment to protecting and providing nutritional support for children under PATH, additional benefits were also provided to families in April, June, October, and December 2020.

He said that for April 2021, PATH families with school-age children would again receive additional benefits.

“PATH is determined to ensure that our children succeed. During the 2020/2021 fiscal year, 4,223 students received tertiary bursaries from pursuing undergraduate programs…and another 1,598 students received grants to pursue a certificate, diploma, and Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) courses,” Samuda told the House.

Regarding supporting persons with disabilities, the Minister informed that approximately 1,990 children with developmental disabilities and their families received therapeutic services under the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP).

He said that three mobile intervention service units have also been acquired and retrofitted, which will now take services directly to affected children and other clients in rural Jamaica.

The Social Security Minister added that the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) expanded the Meals on Wheels Feeding Programme from the Corporate Area to the rural poor and elderly.

An additional 3,132 older persons across the island were assisted with food packages under the program, bringing to 3,632 the total number of older persons benefiting during the financial year 2020/2021.

“We plan to continue this assistance as the Government endeavors that no one must be left behind,” he said.

Samuda said that the Ministry now has Cabinet’s approval to move with the implementation of the Social Pension Scheme for persons over age 75 who are not in receipt of any retirement income, pension disability benefit, and not living in a government institutional care facility.

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