Bermuda Post

Sunday, Jul 05, 2020

Premier Burt announces changes of ministerial responsibilities

As a community, our collective attention has been diverted to managing the change that Covid19 has forced on us. It sometimes feels that all our energies are focused on making it through the various Phases to achieve some return to normality.
After months of doing all that we could do to protect Bermuda and shield our most vulnerable, the priority of work for the Government is to shift our operation to a mode that urgently delivers on the socio-economic package needed to renew this country’s future.

Early in this pandemic I determined that our communications strategy had to be one that exerted the greatest possible reach to ensure the saturation of every media available with the information required to keep people safe. That challenge was issued and the assignment has been carried out with an energy and innovation that has rivaled larger countries attempts at doing the same things. The team that delivered on this imperative has been led by Minister Jamahl Simmons.

In spite of the fact that he leaves the Cabinet today, he has accepted my invitation to remain as a Junior Minister to continue assisting me via the Office of the Premier in this invaluable role of communications. His insight and shrewd advice about how to distill messages for the consumption of busy, hard-working men and women is an asset to the important task of informing the public of their Government’s work on their behalf. I thank Minister Simmons for making the sacrifice and continuing on as a Junior Minister to ensure that the size of the Cabinet is not expanded in this era of tight budgets. His willingness to continue to serve epitomizes the sprit required of all of us.

Make no mistake, the historic arguments and hardened positions on immigration in Bermuda may not have changed, but the economic impact of the pandemic means that there is an urgency in this area that demands the focus of a single minister and ministry. With the creation of this Ministry of Labour, I have determined to unite the areas of government that promote the training and employment of Bermudians with the unit that can serve to protect their interests when they seek employment for which they are qualified. We must put our people back to work now and prepare those displaced by the pandemic to assume the jobs that will be created as we recover. Adding Financial Assistance to this mix will ensure that there is no gap between returning to work those able-bodied men and women who may have fallen on hard times.

I have asked MP Jason Hayward to take on this considerable challenge and I am confident that he brings the necessary combination of labour experience, energy and acumen to what might be considered the lynchpin of building a new economy for Bermuda. MP Hayward also has the empathy and balance required to preside over the culture shift that will be part of what must be done in immigration. Thank MP Hayward.

We are in Phase 2 and I expect to signal later today when we will move to Phase 3 next week. With Covid19 set to be a part of our lives and the requirement to keep up an enforcement regime that is itself more than a full time job, I have asked Minister Caines to devote his full attention to this effort and the inevitable enhanced border protection that will result.

At this afternoon’s Press Conference I will set out further alterations to ministerial responsibilities but I can indicate now that consistent with my responsibilities for economic development I have assumed responsibility for the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission. Additionally, responsibility for Municipalities will now be that of the Minister of Public Works.

More than a ‘new normal’, there is harsh reality. The changes made today will allow the Government to tackle that reality. We must prepare to move beyond Phases and Regulations to the work of redefining how we create economic activity and grow this economy. People without jobs need to have hope that we as their voice will do more than advocate for them, but that we will make laws and adopt policies that build the fair and equitable society so desperately needed for a brighter future.
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