CHRISTMAS WISH LIST
Jamaica’s public servants share their wish for the Yuletide season
DR BRIAN JAMES
President, Medical Association of Jamaica
It is hard to come up off the cuff with a wish list but the most important things are, one: the population becoming cognisant of the reality of COVID-19 and how easy it is to actually put in place all of the things to mitigate it. These include the protocols that have been put in place and have been shown to work. If we can just adhere to them, that would be a wonderful Christmas present for the health sector. What it would mean is less of a crush when the various waves pass through.
The second wish would be regarding trauma in terms of the number of deaths from trauma. It is much higher than the effect of COVID-19 at the moment. We would feel so much better if people were more careful on the road, driving carefully and defensively, as well as if they would resolve their disputes in non-violent ways.
Another wish is that it would make the medical staff much happier if the compensation that the Government agreed to in the beginning is forthcoming in a timely fashion.
CORPORAL ROHAN JAMES
Chairman, Jamaica Police Federation
There are so many things on my wish list, but my primary wish is for the Government to understand the importance of national security and ensure resources are made available to police officers to effectively police this country. I wish for the Government to compensate police officers. You cannot be working people without compensating them. Police officers have been working and they are not being compensated. They are being deprived of their vacation leaves and are being told that they are losing leaves. Time is money, time is property, and you cannot apply austerity measures and deprive members of their salaries. I wish that they would stop tying the hands of the rank and file members.
President, Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA)
If the JTA was to provide a wish list, it would include completed negotiations with teachers receiving at least a double-digit increase on basic pay as well as allowances. It would be that every teacher receives a very good quality laptop and that schools receive high-speed Internet for effective teaching from school, should the pandemic further prevent face-to-face interaction.
Also, all students should have the opportunity to attend classes in a country where there is full control of violence.
I also would wish to see a general reduction in the cost of living, and the elimination of corruption at all levels. We want to see better care for the old, poor, and indigent among us, and also payment for teachers who worked during summer school as well as those who have been engaged traditionally.
Any JTA wish list would include significant improvements in school plants at all levels and greater input on the part of parents to provide the necessary support to allow for children to be fully engaged and benefit from the quality education available to them.
Managing director, Civil, Environment and Coastal Solutions
Certainly, we want to get back to pre-COVID or higher levels in terms of governance. The work-from-home as it relates to government functions has not been good. There has been lower and slower decision-making and hopefully, as we return to normal, the productivity will come back and we get to higher productivity levels and better decisions are made faster.
I also hope that the interest rates come back down to the pre-COVID levels. Increasing interest rates plus extended logistical delays for things from overseas is not good for development, so I’m hoping that they will revert the interest rates in short order.
Some workers are abusing the work-from-home policy; some decisions are being made extremely slow, so I wish we can improve that.
Finally, I hope we can continue our climate-resilient journey by continuing to build better infrastructures to address serious national risks along the coastline and on our water supply. We need to deal with flooding and, overall, get back on the journey towards infrastructural development for the protection of our people.
CEO, Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA)
The year has been pretty challenging, although we have seen some improvements in terms of intervention for children. We are still concerned about the level of abuse generally, and the fact that a lot of people are not reporting or are reporting late. We are also concerned about the trauma that these children would have suffered as a result of abuse and lack of resources in the public health system for children with mental health disorders. We have trained staff in trauma-informed care, and we are going to roll out to staff and residential facilities so they can understand the behaviour of the children, some of whom have severe behavioural challenges that are a direct result of the trauma associated with the abuse. We will continue in the new year, and I hope to get the therapeutic centre up and running.
Our wish is that children will be back in school and that parents will take greater responsibility for their children in terms of supervision and seeking help. They may not know how to treat all the issues but they should know there is always help and that they should not delay. Reach out to us at the CPFSA.
I also wish to see greater involvement of communities in safeguarding children and we need to see more green spaces for children to play. Good parenting campaign and banning of corporal punishment are also on my wish list.
CEO, Registrar General’s Department (RGD)
The year 2021 was a challenging yet rewarding year for team RGD. Heading into the sophomore year of the COVID pandemic, we were already fairly well adjusted to the technical adjustments that were now required to provide and maintain high service standards. We consolidated our expanded platform for online services and increased our focus on customer service. Guided by three watchwords – convenience, responsiveness and empathy – the RGD sought to infuse humanity in our customer service experience, knowing that people in Jamaica and around the world were struggling to cope with the effects brought on by the pandemic.
As we move forward into 2022, we will build on these principles and seek to infuse greater levels of efficiency in our service offering. We have some very exciting initiatives coming up, including our much-anticipated transformation into the National Identification and Registration Authority. We will seek to obtain the relevant ISO certification for our customer service standards as well as roll out our “online branch office” within the digital space.
Our commitment is to continue to improve, continue to innovate, and continue to be responsive to the needs of the people we serve. We stand on the cusp of a digital transformation at the national level. This will be led by the implementation of NIDS and we anticipate, as a people, that we will embrace this transformation as we truly move into a postmodern society.
On behalf of my entire team at the RGD, we wish all of Jamaica a merry Christmas and an exciting and prosperous New Year.
See you soon.