More dialogue, greater compassion and support is what Bernard Warner, President of the Disability Association said persons with disabilities need from the minister in charge.
He told Observer that for the disability association and its members, 2021 was not as prosperous as they’d hoped because of those missing attributes.
Warner does not believe that the newly installed Minister of Social Transformation Dean Jonas has done enough for the association.
“Many of our members have found themselves in difficult situations due to lack of dialogue, greater compassion and support by the present minister.”
“People act according to their leaders and if we have a leader with more compassion, a leader with more empathy, a leader who consults more, a leader who listens more, I think we will see a brighter future for people with disabilities but for now we’re leaving 2021 very sad,” he told Observer.
Warner said too that the government has failed over the years to provide proper representation for the disabled, even after ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People Living with Disabilities.
He said the social model that government has adopted to assist people like himself, is not effective.
He insists that for the disabled people to survive in Antigua and Barbuda, there must be a social inclusive agenda which allows them to become entrepreneurs and create employment for themselves.
According to Warner, “We’re going to have to shift our ideas towards food security by growing our own foods, feeding ourselves because we can no longer believe that we can depend on a social development agenda here in Antigua and Barbuda.”
Observer reached out to Minister Jonas for comment but was referred to Regan Calliste, Head of the Disabilities Department within the Ministry of Social Transformation who disagreed with Warner, stating that Minister Jonas has made significant contributions since his installment.
He referred the minister as “the best minister that we’ve ever had who had given disability a voice in this country”.
Calliste believes that Warner’s disappointment stems from elsewhere.