Minister of Health Addresses Concerns about Meeting with Health Workers
Also responding to the union’s concerns this morning was Health and Wellness Minister Kevin Bernard. Bernard says that he did not deny any request for a meeting.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “I will say exactly what it is. The people at the union did write the Prime Minister and myself some time in September, we were in the middle of September Celebrations activities. Right after I traveled to the World Health PAHO conference. I did say to the union representative who also by the way is a member of the KHMH board and part of their complaint is that the board is not listening so I find it very ironic to be sitting on the board yet the board is not listening. Well let me say this, I have never shied away or shun anybody away from wanting to meet with anyone but on the agenda they have some other things that needs the input of the Ministry of Finance and other people that has the pensions, the issue of income tax, I cannot go there and make decisions on my own unilaterally I have to consult. I have to be able to have the people that have that responsibility to be able to sit down. It’s similar to what w did with the nurses when we went and we had to involve labor, we had to involve Ministry of Finance because the Ministry of Health cannot make those decisions on its own and so there are things I believe that they have been requesting, they want to request, they have all rights to have their press conference I have nothing against that but I believe as well if you as a member of the union the union rep is saying that they have issues why hasn’t it gone to the board ? They have a board. Why has it not gone to management. I checked with management and these matters have never been raised by the union rep to the CEO or to the management level. It has never been raised to the board.”
According to the President of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority Union, Andrew Baird, they had presented the Minister of Health with the agenda for the meeting months ago. This was done back in August when health workers across the country publicly pled for GOB to address the long-standing issues they face. Baird says the agenda has not changed since then, yet the Minister of Health, Kevin Bernard, has not been able to deliver definitive answers. We asked Minister Bernard about this today and this is what he had to say.
Reporter: Those still haven’t been addressed with the Minister of Finance. We know he’s been traveling the world but there could have been a time where he could find and go on Zoom so that both ministries can tackle these issues so that a meeting could be held by now.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Let me answer this, pension is not just something that happened over night. It’s years and years. Thirteen years gone and I think it should have been addressed then you don’t think so ? Let us find a solution. I understand that the pressing question right now is that they want this addressed. This should have been addressed a long time not right now, it should have been addressed for years and years before. So I can just tell you that as the Minister of Health I am going to go in to meet with the people at Ministry of Finance and at the meeting when we have that face to face then the people of the Ministry of Finance will participate in that discussion.”