The House of Representatives has passed the long-awaited
legislation to fight against discrimination on the grounds of disabilities.
The Disabilities Act proposes, among other things,
that no employer should discriminate against a person on the grounds of
disability if the person is qualified for the job.
The Bill also makes provision for persons with a
disability to be entitled to the enjoyment of privileges, interest, benefits
and treatments as every other Jamaican.
Labour and Social Security Minister, Derrick
Kellier, in piloting the bill, said some 10 per cent of Jamaicans are disabled
and argued that the Bill, when passed into law will allow for all persons to
make a contribution to economic growth and national development.
Pearnel Charles, the Opposition spokesman on
labour, said 82 per cent of persons with disability are living below the
poverty line adding that every effort should be made to reverse this reality
and remove discrimination.
However, he said more effort was needed in
relation to provisions for the modification of buildings to accommodate the
needs of the disabled.
The bill, which has been in preliminary stages
for over ten years, received bi-partisan support in the House when it was
It will require the state to transform the
Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities into a body corporate, which
means it will have to be funded from the public purse.
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