KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 22, 2022 - Opposition Spokesperson on Labour and Social Security, Dr. Angela Brown Burke hasrenewing her call for the expansion of the PATH Program. 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 our 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 our 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”, said Dr. Brown Burke.
Dr. Brown Burke highlighted that while the hunger index in 2021 showed that 7.1% of Jamaicans are experiencing severe hunger, that number stood at 23.9% of those most vulnerable. Dr. Brown Burke indicated that she has sent a letter to the Minister with recommendations for the expansion of the PATH Programme which included:
1. Restart a public education programme on PATH
2. Implement a 10% 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 time so that applications can be approved within thirty 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 the PATH Programme, 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.