Kingston, Jamaica. June 28, 2021: Shadow Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy, M.P., says he is genuinely concerned about the latest development regarding health care personnel whose employment contracts have been cancelled or reduced to six months with no definitive time for payment of outstanding salaries and the promised incentives.
He said the recent statement by the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) confirming that the contracts of some of its members have not yet been extended, while others have been reduced to six months. In light of this, the JMDA has threatened court action, which is a very worrisome development for a sector struggling through the worst health crisis in generations.
Dr Guy said the prevailing unease in the health sector results from a blame game between the regional health authorities and the Ministry of Health and Wellness regarding responsibility for altering contracts and non-payment of salaries for doctors and other health care personnel. However, he said, “whatever is the basis for the dispute, the MOHW, as the responsible ministry and the Minister of Health and Wellness, must take responsibility and bring an end to the wrangling and eliminate the threat of court action.
The shadow minister said that it is a sign of maladministration to applaud and express appreciation for the workers’ magnificent efforts in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, on the other hand, deny their benefits, including hazard pay and interfere with their working contracts.
Dr Guy said public health nurses had not been paid for their herculean effort during the heights of the COVID-19 crisis to keep the nation safe. However, the country is still dependent on these workers as other virus variants continue to threaten our society.
“We know that our nurses are tired; we know that they have worked extremely hard; we know that some of the incentives were designed to address some challenges and dislocations. So, for heaven’s sake, pay them,” Guy urged.
The Opposition is specifically aware that doctors and interns attached to the Southern Regional Health Authority have not been getting full salaries. On top of this, the Authority’s commitment to pay outstanding amounts in July, which were due in April, seems unachievable because the government has developed a modus operandi of “taking from Peter to pay Paul.”.
“If the Authority is out of funds to meet salary needs, the MOHW must intervene. However, we cannot expose this cadre of workers on whom the country depends on being humiliated and exploited by the state with non-payment of salaries and incentives,” Dr Guy remarked.
The Opposition Spokesman calls the government to honour its many promises to the health care workers and stop the unwarranted interference and artificial manipulation of their employment contracts.