MINISTER of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, says the Government is fully committed to improving the living conditions and quality of life of persons living with disabilities in Jamaica.
He said that in this vein, he will be working assiduously to ensure that the National Disability Act is passed in Parliament during the 2012/2013 legislative year. This, he said, will seek to provide the regulatory framework to protect and support the rights of persons with disabilities in all spheres, including education and training, health services, employment, access to the built environment and participation in public life.
Kellier was speaking at the opening of the 6th annual Special Needs Conference and Expo at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.
The four-day conference is organised by the Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) and endorsed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), and the Jamaica Paediatric Association.
The event, which is being held under the theme: ‘Building the Road to Independence for Children with Disabilities in Jamaica’, aims to increase awareness about the rights and access to social and economic services by persons with disabilities.
Kellier said the ministry will continue to work tirelessly, along with its private sector partners, to reduce poverty levels among persons in the disabled community by ensuring greater access to education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as income support where required.
The minister said international statistics indicate that persons with disabilities are disproportionately represented among the poor and unemployed. World Bank estimates indicate that 20 per cent of the poorest people globally, have some kind of disability and are viewed as the most disadvantaged in communities.