Regional body for elderly
From early next year, elderly people across the entire Caribbean should have a regional body to speak on their behalf.
President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), Ed Bushell, yesterday announced the formation of a regional association to lobby governments on issues affecting the elderly.
“We need to look at ageing policies by the various governments. The fact that the elderly population will outstrip the under-15 population by 2050 means there is a greater part of the population to be catered to,” Bushell said at a Press conference at BARP’s offices in Collymore Rock, St Michael.
He said regional governments needed to make adequate provisions for the changing demographics and the new association would look at how it could advise on needed policies.
BARP’s executive manager Elsa Webster said the level of unpreparedness for seniors in the population was a global problem.
“The world is not ready for the rate at which the ageing population is increasing and that will bring with it a number of challenges and opportunities. What affects us here in Barbados will affect those across the region. If we can have policies that are of a regional nature, it might be more helpful,” Webster added.
The decision to establish the regional body came out of last week’s inaugural regional conference of associations of retired people, hosted by BARP at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
Webster explained that at that conference issues such as portability of pensions, affordable health, national policies on ageing, job opportunities and gender equality policies were discussed.
She said an increasing percentage of elderly people were looking for employment. Therefore, she added, there should be policies aimed at hiring or contracting older workers, particularly women.
She said the issue of portability of pensions should be discussed for the benefit of those who worked in several other countries and who would like to collect their pensions in the country of their choice, without too much hassle.
BARP also announced a new-look membership card offering more security, ease of use and the ability to gather data on its usage. Webster said the card, to be launched December 1, would include a photograph, barcode, magnetic strip and quick reader code. (LK)