The Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC) march for workers’ rights zeroed in on affordable, accessible healthcare in recognition of International Workers’ Day this afternoon.

The annual May Day demonstration got underway at Victoria Park at noon.

BTUC President, Senator Jason Hayward stressed that stressed that “accessible and affordable healthcare in Bermuda is a concern” because “we simply do not have accessible and affordable healthcare in Bermuda”.

Ultimately, he said the “end game is universal healthcare coverage for all”.

“Healthcare should be deemed to be a human right. Healthcare should not be viewed as a commodity,” Mr Hayward said.

He implored Bermuda’s stakeholders to commit to finding solutions to Bermuda’s healthcare crisis amid skyrocketing, unsustainable costs.

Mr Hayward said Government should ensure that it has a proper health plan with appropriate regulation that sets reasonable healthcare costs for providers.

But on the flip side he said Bermuda’s healthcare providers “need to ensure that they provide quality care”.

He also urged insurers “to come on board” because the “premiums that Bermudians pay are simply unaffordable”.

And as a community, he said: “We have to commit to work together to ensure that we reduce the healthcare costs in this country.”

Mr Hayward reaffirmed the BTUC’s commitment to advocating for sustainable and healthcare reform with a view to working towards universal coverage, to make basic health insurance coverage accessible to all across the board.

Premier David Burt was in attendance with members of the Cabinet.

“The matter that is being brought before us is an important one. Healthcare is something that needs to be right and this government is committed to getting us to the place where we can afford healthcare,” said Mr Burt.

Health Minister Kim Wilson noted that within the past week she has met with “over 120 health system partners and stakeholders to update them on the progress made and the next steps under the health plan”.

“I stressed to everyone that affordable and accessible healthcare for all is the number one priority for me and we will bring about the reforms needed to make this happen,” she said.

“I want everyone to have access to preventive healthcare to avoid problems and resolve issues before they escalate.”

Meanwhile, PLP Chairman Owen Darrell said: “The Progressive Labour Party joins with the Bermuda Trade Union Congress in recognizing today, May 1, as International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.

“Today is the day that we recognize the struggle for workers’ rights, and the contributions that workers have made in the workplace.  We recognize that the majority of the benefits that are widely accepted and treated as the norm, even in the private sector, emanate from years of struggle and sacrifice by many who are no longer with us.  And we also recognize that in some countries, and in some cases, the struggle still continues.

We encourage those in support to join the BTUC at a May Day rally and march starting at Victoria Park at 12pm.”

  • Photos Courtesy of BPSU