Sat | Dec 9, 2023

Opposition renews call for expansion of PATH programme

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2022 | 6:14 PM
"Time come to proactively identify the most vulnerable and needy families and ensure that their applications are urgently processed”: Dr Angela Brown Burke.

Opposition Spokesperson on Labour and Social Security, Dr Angela Brown Burke, is renewing her call for the expansion of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

Less than a month after the reopening of schools, many parents are finding it difficult to send their children to school.

The Opposition Spokesperson noted that, in light of the 2021 report which indicated that more than two thirds of the population cannot afford healthy food, provisions should have already been made to cushion the crisis currently facing parents and children.

Dr Brown Burke is calling on the Government to increase the benefit under the PATH programme and make it more accessible to children in need.

“It is important for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to work together with the Ministry of Education to ensure that support is provided for parents who are struggling to send their children to school. Time come to proactively identify the most vulnerable and needy families and ensure that their applications are urgently processed,” Dr Brown Burke said in a press release today.

She highlighted that while the hunger index in 2021 showed that 7.1 per cent of Jamaicans are experiencing severe hunger, that number stood at 23.9 per cent of those most vulnerable.

She also indicated that she has sent a letter to the minister with recommendations for the expansion of PATH, which included:

1. Restart a public education programme on PATH

2. Implement a 10 per cent increase in the present PATH payments, so that the spending power of beneficiaries can be aligned with the national inflation rate over the past year.

3. Decrease processing of time for applications so that applicants can be approved within 30 days.

4. Provide a written report to the unsuccessful applicant detailing the process used to make the decision and any recourse available.

5. Ensure a transparent and speedy appeal process for applicants who have been denied.

In highlighting some of the challenges that applicants face when applying for PATH, Dr Brown Burke said, “We have to ensure that the most needy and deserving persons are placed on the PATH programme, irrespective of their perceived political alignment or that of the community in which they reside.”

She added that tertiary students, in particular those in social work, can be trained and engaged part-time to visit applicants for the inspections which would help to reduce the processing time for applications.

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