During Thursday’s debate on vital new amendments to help people deal with the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 corona virus pandemic, Arden McLean, Leader of the Opposition, said now was the time to reset the clock when it came to giving Caymanians employment opportunities.
Amendments were discussed that would help ex-pats coming to the end of their work permit or term limit to extend their time in the Cayman Islands legally, should they be unable to travel back to their home country because of travel restrictions. Mr McLean said while he recognised the difficulties such ex-patriot workers were facing, he believed Caymanians should come first when it came to employment opportunities.
“Whilst we recognise the difficulties we are facing now, particularly businesses and employment, and we recognise work permit holders are also essential to our existence, we must also recognise that Caymanians are just as essential and, particularly now, we must start thinking about rebuilding this economy and it will take everybody on board to do it,” he said.
Mr McLean said that he was thankful that the government has listed how and under what conditions hiring would go forward from here, however as he had said before, Caymanians came first.
“I think it’s more important than ever in all our history because this economy has had to be shut down that there will be no excuses, none. Caymanians must be hired first and the excuses must stop,” he said.
His concern was how were Caymanians going to be put first, if the Government enforced the amendments that they were debating, and that work permit holders who were going to be out of a job were now able to be further employed.
“We are going to have to make provisions to make sure that those people are somehow taken out of the jurisdiction,” he said. “There must be no more reasons why Caymanians should not be able to work.”
Mr McLean went on to say that the provisions under debate had to ensure that employers understood that they could not flout the law and that they could not do what had been done in the past.
“If we are to bring our economy back up, they must learn that they will be charged and prosecuted. It’s Caymanians first,” he stated.
This was the time to do a paradigm shift, so Caymanians could benefit from the successes of the country, he advised.
Mr McLean said he wasn’t against immigration and recognised how immigrants had helped build the jurisdiction, but he said Cayman had lost its way.
“We lost the central piece which is Caymanians. I believe we can set this clock when it comes to opportunities for Caymanians at the same time welcoming people who are necessary and needed to help us rebuild,” he said.
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