Government Senator, Carlos James has called for greater focus to be placed on the elderly.
James made the call while addressing a ceremony to honour senior citizens in the North Leeward constituency at the Cumberland recreational site last Sunday.
James, while lauding the government’s efforts in increasing Public Assistance and implementing initiatives such as the Lives to Live programme, said that the country must double its efforts in providing the necessary support for seniors, particularly in rural communities.
He said the government spends over EC$18 million annually on varying forms of public assistance, but a number of seniors are still not able to benefit as the welfare programme is open to abuse.
“Close to 6,000 Vincentians receive Public Assistance and while that figure is appalling it is even more appalling that quite a number of those persons may not necessarily meet the criteria for the very assistance they receive or there are cases of double-dipping, and while we grapple with this we can indentify eligible persons who are having difficulty getting assistance,” James said.
James further noted that the flagship Lives to Live programme is one of the most important social programmes the government must find resources to continue.
“We have experienced vastly improved living standards and naturally we are going to see a growing ageing population. Our social development planners are now pressed to do more to grapple with these changes as the dynamics are very much different from decades ago,” he said.
James noted that despite people living longer and healthier lives due to significantly reduce levels of indigence there are still pockets of indigence particularly in rural communities.
“In the year 2017, there are still seniors using outside bathrooms. We must double our efforts and find the resources to resolve these inconveniences. We have to properly provide for our seniors because as a society we are measured by how we treat our most vulnerable,” the senator said.
The senior citizens Christmas luncheon saw over two dozen persons being recognised for their service and contribution to their respective communities in North Leeward.
“You have served your communities well and this luncheon symbolises our appreciation and love for you. We appreciate your contribution towards building stronger communities in North Leeward,” James said.