Implementation of Disabilities Act a priority for 2019/20

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THE focus of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities for 2019/20 is the implementation of the Disabilities Act, for which regulations and codes of practices are being developed.

This was stated by minister of state in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Zavia Mayne, in a message delivered by project director, Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), Elsa Marks Willis, at the first distribution of items from the Abilities Foundation Food Bank, at the entity’s location in St Andrew on Thurday.

“Implementation of the Act will create additional opportunities for persons with disabilities, and minimise discrimination against them. We are also striving to put in place the right conditions so that everyone can participate equally, as we are working towards an inclusive society,” the state minister said.

The Disabilities Act makes provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica. This legislation protects and promotes the equal rights of the disabled and prohibits discrimination against them.

Mayne urged all Jamaicans to play their part in creating equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, so that they will be able to take care of their families and make meaningful contribution to the growth and development of Jamaica.

“More needs to be done to further integrate persons with disabilities into our workforce and to help them to positively contribute to the productivity levels of the Jamaican economy,” he said.

He noted that the ministry continues to provide support for the disabled community, with more than $12 million granted during the 2018/19 financial year for medical care, education, and assistive aids such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses, prosthesis and hearing aids.

“We have grants of up to $150,000 for persons who are interested in starting or expanding micro businesses. Other benefits provided by the ministry include therapy sessions, concessionary bus fares with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), and income tax exemptions in specific cases,” he said.

The Abilities Foundation Food Bank was officially launched in December 2018 by Kiwanis Division 23 East, and aims to address the challenge of food insecurity impacting persons with disabilities and their families.

Mayne commended the service club for the undertaking, noting that approximately 150 persons will benefit initially.

“Your act of kindness is, in fact, championing the cause of persons living with disabilities in Jamaica… Your tremendous effort has helped to make our Jamaican society a better one, and we look forward to a long-standing, successful cooperation,” he said.

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