Despite the international economic downturn over the past decade, the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has managed to uphold the 2008 vision statement of late Prime Minister David Thompson that ‘Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society’.
This was the contention of Minister of Social Care and the incumbent Member of Parliament for St Michael Central Steve Blackett, who is contending that in the midst of the challenges, the island still managed to ensure that its most vulnerable citizens did not suffer any adverse effects by maintaining its social services at a high standard.
Speaking at a DLP meeting in Waterhall Land, Tudor Bridge, St Michael, the neighbourhood in which he grew up, Blackett said “when we came to office Barbados was facing a world recession, but we stood up to the task and made the necessary adjustments.
“We ensured that the social services would continue to work well. With that in mind, we made sure that the first thing we did was to complete the David Thompson clinic in St John, which the previous administration had turned their backs on for all the years they were in office.”
He also cited the DLP decision to provide free bus service to schoolchildren in uniform; the setting up of constituency councils, as well as improvements to the education system with additional nursery schools and sixth form secondary schools as other “social engineering policies” which worked under the current administration.
Blackett referred to the David Thompson Memorial Classic football tournament as “not only a catalyst for sports, but also a stimulus package for the small business operators who sell food and other items at the matches”.
The Minister of Social Care spoke of new facilities the Child Care Board had provided at the Nightengale and Farr’s children’s homes with assistance from the Barbados Children’s Trust and the Maria Holder Trust respectively, stating that that institution “is now operating at a first world level”.
During the meeting, Blackett also noted some of his accomplishments during his tenure as representative for St Michael Central, including the refurbishment or reconstruction of 45 houses, providing water tanks for the squatters residing in the Belleview district, and the provision of natural gas for people in the Waterhall Land area.
As Minister of Social Care, he said he looked out for the interests of both children and the elderly with the establishment of a breakfast programme for primary school children, and his annual Mothers Day event which catered to some 200 mothers in the constituency.
He made a pledge to continue the work he has started, telling constituents “I have the experience, zeal and your interests at heart”.