Political Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr Godwin Friday has made it clear that his party does not intend to cut the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) or the Home Help for the Elderly programmes.
“Absolutely nonsense that the NDP is going to do-away with the program”, claiming that it was propaganda from the other side (ULP). The Opposition Leader who was at the time speaking on the New Times radio programme said:
“We have been critical of the YES program and some aspects of it because the point is that it is a way for young people to start getting some sort of apprenticeship programme, getting into the world of work”.
“Again if anything, such a programme, this programme, will be expanded first of all to provide a better wage because that is what it has become for the young people on the programme”.
“So that at the end of the day, they would have a little money in their pocket not just to buy lunch and pay transportation to go to work and have nothing at the end of day with the $400 they are given”.
“But we also have to improve, broaden the scope of the programme”.
He said the party intends to make it available to more private sector entities especially where those entities are willing to pay a matching sum so that they will have the service of the person, the person would have immediate and relevant skills from working in the private sector and doing meaningful work. “Not just doing things that not going to develop their skills and intellect”.
Dr Friday made the commitment to increase the wage of YES Workers but did not say by how much except noting it would be a low wage but certainly a lot better than what they are gaining now.
Similarly the NDP is promising to expand the Home Help for the Elderly programme stating:
“We have to think about how we can expand the programme to meet the need that is there. It is greater than the service provided now. So its not a question of us not wanting the programme, or wanting to do away with the programme, that is nonsense. Our position would be that the programme needs to be expanded, needs to be upgraded”.
“It needs to meet the needs of the people around the country who are benefiting from what is provided now but that doesn’t meet all the needs so we need to think about how we can expand it”.
The YES programme was instituted in 2001 with an objective to provide training opportunities for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 years who are out of school. Currently, each volunteer is paid a monthly stipend of $450.00.