Disability law promised

| 17/03/2009

(CNS): People with disabilities are being promised far reaching legislation by Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin, who has said that at the earliest opportunity in the next administration a law will be drafted to enable people with disabilities to enjoy the same rights, freedoms and protections that others take for granted. Tabling a report by the Legal Subcommittee for Persons with Disabilities commissioned by his ministry, McLaughlin said it was the most comprehensive assessment ever undertaken of the needs of the disabled.  

“God and the electorate willing, it is my intention that a bill to protect and promote the rights and interests of persons with disability will be ready for discussion by this House very early in the next term,” the minister said in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

McLaughlin explained that the report lays the foundation for the implementation of new legislation aimed at transforming current provisions to have a positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. ”It will be a helpful instrument in mainstreaming disability in the Cayman Islands’ development agenda so that our society may be as inclusive as possible for all,” he said.

The minister noted recent attention regarding services and provisions for persons with disabilities as a result of the constitutional talks, and said the report showed that a great deal of care had gone into developing new provisions for a comprehensive continuum of care for the disabled.

He explained that in 2007 his ministry established a Steering Committee for Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities in the Cayman Islands. “Their work culminated in a report which outlined the limited provisions that existed for persons with disabilities, and detailed the areas needing improvement. This initial report established that, in order to provide the requisite improvements and grant long overdue protections for persons with disabilities, a new legal framework would need to be put in place to underpin the progressive revisions that were clearly required,” he said.

McLaughlin described the woeful inadequacies of current legislation pertaining to disability issues and said the sub-committee had turned their attention to international research and to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He said the committee also identified areas in the convention that could be improved upon to fit the specific needs of persons with disabilities living in the Cayman Islands.

“To augment the new Cayman Islands legislation even further, sections from other pieces of legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (UK) were incorporated. This Act specifically addressed the formation of a National Disability Council and went into greater detail on issues such as discrimination in the areas of employment, education and transport,” the minister explained. He went on to say that the Cayman Islands legislation will be sturdy, comprehensive and effective as a result of the extensive research done by the committee.

He said the report outlines each of the Articles from the UN Convention and provides relevant recommendations for amendments to bring about equal rights and a continuum of care for persons with disabilities in our islands.  “It also goes as far as specifying which areas should be addressed in law and which should be dealt with at the policy level. 

He said it was the first time that there has been a full and comprehensive review of all legislation pertaining to persons with disabilities in the Cayman Islands. “At long last, with this report in hand, Legislative Drafters will be able to create a customized, wide-ranging disability law, and once this work is legislated; this comprehensive disability law will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean – and for most of the world – making the Cayman Islands Disability Law a model framework for other countries.”

He noted however that the law would affect every aspect of life from education to healthcare, to building regulations and recreational participation, to employment, housing and safety.

“This law will bring many challenges with its implementation, and some of these challenges will be at a legislative level where other laws may have to be revised to fall in line with the new Disability Law. Additionally, its implementation will require large scale public awareness about the specifics of what has changed and who will be affected. Notwithstanding these challenges, this day is a historic day for persons with disabilities in the Cayman Islands.  This report is an expression of this Government’s unswerving dedication to proactively address the needs of all sectors of our population, and is a resounding assurance of our commitment to facilitating equal opportunity, full-participation and the wholesome development of persons with disabilities.”

He said it was coincidental that it had arrived when there is heightened awareness on the subject of disability, because of the Constitutional discussions and the draft Bill of Rights. “This new customised legislation will complement the draft Bill of Rights by having the potential to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities will be factored into the social and institutional operations of this country. Further, the provisions in the report relating to equality and non-discriminatory treatment provide protections that should allay any concerns about the absence of a free standing non-discrimination clause in the Draft Bill of Rights,” the Minister added.

McLaughlin said that the report goes to great lengths to ensure that everyone with a disability can live an independent, meaningful, socially connected life in an environment that is both accessible and understanding of their needs.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish the previous posters would actually contribute something positive instead of just critizing the efforts of a hard working committee. THIS is an example of negative**** . I worked on the committee whose efforts are so minimized, and it took this long to get consensus. Of all the previous goverments, this is the only one to take the task in hand to DO SOMETHING besides talk! The issue has been around a long time, has any other government walked the talk? I think not. The link above is one created to add positive input from people who want take part in positive change.

  2. anon says:

    Promises, promises, promises. The PPM is all about promises.

    Poor sad things.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a pile of that thing.!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is the perfect example of why Cayman needs a REAL bill of rights in its constitution. 

    All previous governments in the history of Cayman never cared enough to pass meaningful and comprehensive laws that would protect the disabled. The PPM did not care enough to do it in five years. If the UDP takes power in May, they almost certain they won’t do anything (They didn’t when they were in power before the PPM)

    Thanks a lot Cayman Ministers Association, Rev. Sykes, SDA, and Chamber of Commerce. Your bigoted or selfish interests (wear whichever shoe fits) successfully influenced the PPM to draft a hollow constitution, one that could have served all the people but sadly is so weakened it cannot.

    We could lock 13 drunken chimpanzees in a room and they would come out with a better draft than this one. Oh wait, we already tried that.

    Next time we try to write a constitution maybe we should exclude radio talkshow hosts, preachers and airheads from the process. Just a thought.

    Vote no

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another giant step forward for the disabled being held hostage by political rhetoric! This man SERIOUSLY thinks that Caymanians as a whole are stupid!! If this “committee” was formed in 2007 then why hasn’t anything been done until now? Simple: because he was already in office and the easiest way to pacify the electorate is to form a committee and act like you are actually doing something useful. We will only see this go forward if Mr McLaughlin is re-elected…bullcorn!!!

    Had it not been for the HRC and the families of disabled persons coming forward to challenge the constitution / bill of rights would anything have been done? Issues are “real” and “pressing” during elections because that is what the people want to hear. Come May 21st, thoseissues die a slow death and yet the people they represent continue to live and breathe…and suffer!! We are still here. Caymanians are so accepting and passive. Now we are breeding a new generation who either feel completely abject about their future or develop the attitude that they will take what they feel is rightfully theirs at any cost.

    Continue with the current and all you will get is what have long gotten.

    If Mr McLaughlin’s intentions are noble then I expect to see him continue to fight for this even if he is not re-elected. That’s when the true mettle of a politician is seen.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes, please pass the buck because if we have anything to say about it you wil not be part of the next administration!

  7. Anonymous says:

    i agree it is a load of bull!  trying  to save face now with all kinds of eloquent words and speeches right before they are shut down out of the Legislative Assembly to get ready for new elections!  Never to humble onself and admit when they err!  It takes a good man to be able to humble oneself and admit they erred.  I guess he is not a good man then?

  8. Anonymous says:

    they would say any garbage to get re-elected! now that he noticed that everyone wants to have the rights for the disabled, he know wants to pretend that he cares just to get back in!

  9. noname says:

    I completly agree with the previous posters.

    This is why we need full consitutional protection from discrimination.

    As it stands and as it will continue to with the current draft Bill of Rights – laws and policies that protect the disabled, eldery, poor, mentally ill, children, women etc will be left to the whims of future Governments – which change every four years. 

    With a free standing right to non-discrimination in the Bill of Rights – Government would be oblidged to provide these services.

    How can Alden make such a promise? He cannot. He will almost certainly not be re-elected.

    If he had ensured that free standing rights to non-discriminiation was in the Bill of Rights – he could say – ‘with the passage of the new constitution (if it passes) and the work which has already been done by our Ministry – I am confident that, regardless of political outcomes in May, comprehensive Disabilities Law will shortly come into effect’.

    But this is a promise he cannot, now, make.

    The only thing that he (and the PPM) CAN do to redeem themselves at this point – is to listen to the people and allow us to vote on whether we want a free standing right to non-discrimination.



    • Anonymous says:

      "How can Alden make such a promise? He cannot. He will almost certainly not be re-elected".

      He is obviously doing what politicians do, make promises in order to get elected. He may surprise you yet.   

      "If he had ensured that free standing rights to non-discriminiation was in the Bill of Rights – he could say – ‘with the passage of the new constitution (if it passes) and the work which has already been done by our Ministry – I am confident that, regardless of political outcomes in May, comprehensive Disabilities Law will shortly come into effect’.".

      He would also be obliged to say that any special protections for Caymanians not specifically provided for, e.g. tertiary education scholarships,  would be in imminent jeopardy.For that, every sensible Caymanian would vote against him.  

  10. anonymous says:

    What a load of bull.

    Nice quote: "Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin, who has said that at the earliest opportunity in the next administration a law will be drafted to enable people with disabilities to enjoy the same rights, freedoms and protections that others take for granted." 

    If he cared he would have stood up to the Cayman Ministers Association and fought to put the necessary rights and protections for all, including the disabled, in the draft constitution. 

    To promise action "at atthe earliest opportunity in the next administration" is meaningless. What if he is not elected? If that happens, we can be sure the next party in power will sweep away every plan and idea McLaughlin’s party ever had. 

    This looks a lot like showboating and pre-election posturing. I hope Cayman’s disabled people and their families don’t fall for it. They should ask McLaughlin why they can’t just have a free-standing right to nondiscrimination in the new constitution. 






  11. Anonymous says:

    Promises Promises … the only way to secure this is through a solid constitution. People do not be fooled by all this last minute legislation.