CITIZENS SURVEYED AND MINISTERS QUESTIONED AHEAD OF LA
With attention focused on the Domestic Partnership Bill in Monday’s sitting of the Legislative Assembly, there is a further series of questions that the Official Opposition has tabled on a range of pressing issues.
Hon. Alva Suckoo, Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition and MLA for Newlands, has submitted four questions on matters pertaining to the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff, health insurance premiums and land usage and public safety.
Regarding PPE, the question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour.
“Can the Honourable Minister say what steps are being taken to ensure the Cayman Islands has adequate current and on-going supplies of masks, gloves and necessary PPE considering the stated hope to re-open to international travel, re-open schools and further lift restrictions related to COVID-19?”
A second question also directed at the Health Minister raises the issue of the government’s pledge to cover the health insurance for persons out of work due to the COVID endemic and unable to pay their premiums.
The issue came up recently when the government had to reassure policyholders as some payments had been late raising concerns that some policies were at risk of defaulting.
There was also some doubt over the validity of the arrangements which were said to have been in place and whether they had been properly formalised.
In that respects, the question from MLA Suckoo asks: “Can the Honourable Minister say whether there is a formal agreement/contract in place between the Government and local insurance companies with regard to the Government initiative to cover health insurance premiums for persons who have been impacted by COVID-19?”
The other two questions are in part directed to Health Minister Seymour and the Hon. Minister for Lands, Julia O'Connor-Connolly.
In the first of the two, Mr Suckoo poses this question on behalf of the Official Opposition:
“Can the Honourable Minister say, what are the Ministry’s plans regarding the numerous LPP (Land for Public Purposes) parcels across the Cayman Islands that are not maintained, not fit for purpose and, in some cases, have become health and safety concerns for our communities?”
A related question asks: “Can the Honourable Minister say if the Government is in compliance with Section 41 of the Public Lands Law (2020 Revision)?”
With extensive debate expected on the controversial Domestic Partnership Bill, MLAs have been highlighting the matter with their constituents and the public over the past weeks.
There was a question over whether the degree of public consultation on the bill would have been achieved in the allocated time.
Up to this weekend community contact and feedback was in full flow ahead of Monday’s meeting including a survey by the Official Opposition.
In its rationale for the survey, the group of MLAs state:
“ We also note that there was no public consultation prior to the bill being Gazetted and the Government has now launched the consultation period but has provided very little information and guidance to the public. They will proceed to debate and vote on the bill starting on July 27th, 2020.
“We feel that with the lack of input from the public and the fast-approaching debate in the Legislature it is imperative that we gather the views of our constituents as quickly and effectively as possible.”
In a statement, they said they’d reached 500 responses and were urging people to participate before the survey closes at midnight Sunday.
“Our survey on the Domestic Partnership Bill, 2020 is still open and will be closed at midnight tonight. So far there have been over 500 responses and I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to respond. If you have not yet taken the survey, please consider doing so today as the feedback is very much valued and will guide me this coming week when the bill is debated and voted on.”
The bill which is intended to recognise ‘domestic partnerships’ between same-sex couples is hugely contentious across both sides of the Legislative Assembly and in the community.
MLAs have been taking soundings from their constituents and the community at large in advance of this week’s debate and vote in the LA.