Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh responds to a question on health workers during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

The issue of health insurance for health workers has been discussed and regional health authorities (RHAs) are actively looking at it, says Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Deyalsingh confirmed the situation in Parliament yesterday while responding to queries from United National Congress MP Rudy Indarsingh, who’d asked if there would be any hazard allowance or death benefits, or if Government would contribute to health insurance coverage for all nurses and midwives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deyalsingh was also asked about reports that health workers have been engaged in protest action and whether Government has considered requests for improved compensation for health workers.

Medical workers attached to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope yesterday staged a demonstration over Government’s announcement in the Senate on Monday that it will pay 25 per cent of the arrears they were owed on their gratuity payments. The statement was made by Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat, who said Government was committed to paying the arrears to some 2,440 regional health authority workers by month-end.

The minister said fruitful meetings have been held with the T&T Registered Nurses’ Association and Public Services’ Association and “they’re coming together on many issues.” He said there were some resolutions on many long outstanding issues which will be implemented in the “shortest time.”

Also during yesterday’s Parliament debate on proposed changes to property conveyancing law – passed in the Senate recently – Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said the bill would seek to protect property buyers and would require attorneys to draw up agreements for sale prior to purchase. He said there are too many unscrupulous people in T&T going around taking multiple deposits from people at the same time.

“And you have to look over your shoulder for 12 years to see if someone takes away your title,” Al-Rawi added.

Al-Rawi assured that the law won’t cause attorneys’ fees to increase.

However, UNC MP Vidya Guyadeen-Gopeesingh said the many layers of forms which the new processes require will greatly burden ease of doing business in T&T, hamper clients and attorneys.

“We’re already listed 105 out of 190 countries in ease of doing business ratings – with this law we’ll hit rock bottom,” she added.

National Security Minister Stuart Young, who said the bill was meant to tackle corruption, added that Government, in 2016 at a UK anti-corruption conference, had committed to establishing a register of beneficial property owners. He noted a tax evasion issue where a property was purchased for $175 million with taxpayers’ money when it was only valued at $56 million.