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NCSC 40th Anniversary Awards Luncheon

Minister of Labour and Social Security

NCSC 40th Anniversary Awards Luncheon
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 @ Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, @ 11:00 am
Honourable Prime Minister, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, valued awardees, cherished seniors, members of the media… as Minister with portfolio responsibility for senior citizens, I recognize that much of the progress and growth we are enjoying today as a country was made possible through the tremendous effort and sacrifice of our elders in communities islandwide.
So, today’s Awards Ceremony is a marvelous opportunity to thank them for their sterling contribution, and also to recognize our valued partners and dedicated volunteers.
The records show that the oldest senior citizen being honored today is 100-year old Hazel Espeut from Kingston, while the “youngest” is 65-year old Lucy Gilchrist from Hanover.  
A round of well-deserved applause to these “active” agers (applause).
I am thankful that the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) has been working steadily over the past four decades placing older persons as a high priority on the social development agenda of the Ministry. We have approximately 341,200 Jamaicans who make up our elderly population (i.e. about 12.6%). 
And - in keeping with global trend - this number is expected to double by year 2050, so the Council will have to re-position itself to respond to changing demographics in coming years. So far, the NCSC has proven its worth through the myriad of health, educational and recreational programmes and activities it organizes islandwide. The Council advocated for a Drug for the Elderly programme, which today is now the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP).
The NCSC provides concessionary fares for seniors on public transportation. It also facilitates many seniors involvement in income generating activities, thereby adding to their independence, while recognizing their innate capabilities of making long-term contribution to national and personal development efforts and economic growth. And, in providing computer training for seniors, the Council is recognizing the institutional and cultural memory and varying abilities, which can be enhanced for continued contribution to nation building.
This training also ensures their adaptability and participation in a rapidly changing environment of active and productive ageing. The NCSC promotes healthy and active ageing through health fairs, sporting events, Bible Quizzes, Spelling Bee competitions in its day activity centres and clubs islandwide.  
Join me, therefore, ladies and gentlemen in applauding the hard work and dedication that the Board and Staff of the NCSC offer on behalf of this country (applause)
Numbered among our awardees today are outstanding volunteers who give of their time, talent and service to the NCSC. I am heartened by their dedication for it underscores the meaning of giving back unto others, as the Bible urges.
Ladies and gentlemen, with the busy lives we lead, it is so hard to find time to volunteer, but I know that the benefits are tremendous to you, your family, your community and the country. I use this occasion, therefore, to encourage Jamaicans to get involved with projects involving elderly persons in our communities and towns. Care for a senior today, whether they are your relatives or not.
I am thankful for the presence of our partners from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) who are collaborating with the Ministry in advancing the ageing agenda nationally, regionally and internationally. The Third (3rd) Five-Year review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) will coincide with a global review by the United Nations Commission for Social Development. A survey instrument to inform this review process was developed by ECLAC - and we thank them for their contribution.
Meanwhile, under the World Bank Social Protection Project in this Ministry, the PIOJ gives oversight to the Technical Review Panel for the revision of the National Senior Citizens Policy.
The Concept Note has already been reviewed by the Cabinet’s Human Resource Committee – and revision of the Policy is expected to be completed very early in the 2017/18 Financial Year.
This revised Policy will help us to re-visit issues as well as pinpoint future priorities surrounding ageing issues in keeping with global directions and country commitments.
It will also help us identify, additional policy responses and strategies for more meaningful participation of the elderly in the development process. 
Ladies and gentlemen - as we look to the next 40 years – let us work to incorporate more inter-generational exchanges with the elderly, in keeping with our Anniversary theme - “Showcasing Our Legacy, Promoting Inter-generational Solidarity.” More inter-generational connections can provide stability for Jamaica, so I encourage us to look into the NCSC’s Inter-generational Programme as a valuable chance to re-socialize our youth and build our country. 
We at the Ministry recognize the tremendous value of senior citizens to the history, culture and societal values, wisdom and celebrate some of them today for their distinctive contribution to the family and nation building
I take this opportunity to reassure our seniors that the Government is aware of the socio-economic realities you face, including: 
  • Inadequate pension coverage  and health benefits
  • Varying health challenges
  •  Financial exploitation of older persons by relatives or non-relatives
  •  Neglect by family, elder abuse among others.
With emerging issues, greater attention will be paid to implementing additional measures to improve the economic, health and social wellbeing of the elderly and the protection of their human rights.
We know it is not easy, but, we are embracing a Vision where Senior Citizens in Jamaica live and participate actively in a society that assures their rights, recognizes their capabilities and contributions, and facilitates their enjoyment of a fulfilling, healthy and secure life. I hope all of Jamaica will share this vision with me.
As I close, ladies and gentlemen, I urge us to use this Awards Luncheon not only to acknowledge the contributions of valued older citizens in our homes, workplaces and communities, but also to pledge create the enabling and favourable society for them and generations to come. 
Let us remember that the way we treat our elderly brothers and sisters speaks volumes about the kind of people that we are. And, as we prepare for our own senior years, let us strive to build a Jamaican society where they (and later ourselves) can be respected, rewarded and cared for.
Again, I salute all our Awardees – you are loved, appreciated and cherished!! 
I hope today’s celebration will be memorable for all. Thank you.

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