In 2013, I embarked on a journey to work on behalf of the people of this country at a crucial point in our history. Caymanian unemployment was at a record high of 10.5%, the economy was stagnant, and business confidence was very low.

For years we have heard many promises from politicians who have been elected for decades. Promises amounting to nothing more than political rhetoric and rousing soundbites. However, simply talking about these problems every four years is not sufficient; and since taking office in May 2013, I have ensured that action was taken to address some of the critical challenges facing our Islands.

As a Member of the Cabinet, I have worked closely with my other Cabinet and Government colleagues to ensure that much work has taken place to address many issues and concerns during our four-year tenure; and we have gotten results!

I have delivered on the promises made in 2013.

Here is a snapshot of some key accomplishments to date, with more work still underway.

Enhancing Public Education

  • Dedicated Special Education Needs Coordinators and increased specialist support provided for all schools
  • Ensured that all 5 – 7 year olds receive targeted literacy interventions and support during the crucial years of learning to read and write
  • Exceeded the first ever national reading target set for Year 1 students (i.e. 86% reading on or above target)
  • Implemented targeted behaviour interventions and support in all schools, contributing to a 53% reduction in number of student exclusions (suspensions) from JGHS in Term 1, 2016 as compared to Term 1, 2015
  • Expanded Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) offerings at CIFEC and at the high schools (over 20 courses offered in hospitality, hair & beauty, creative media, automotive, construction, art & design and IT)
  • Developed and implemented an Education Plan of Action deemed to be “outstanding” and “cogent, coherent and comprehensive” by world renowned educator, Dr. Avis Glaze
  • Numeracy interventions implemented
  • Modern, comprehensive Education Law passed
  • International leadership certification and training for all principals and deputies
  • Professional Development (PD) Policy requiring 60 PD hours per year for all teachers implemented
  • Professional development programme for all classroom support staff implemented
  • Early Childhood Curriculum Framework adopted
  • 100% of primary school classrooms and over 70% of secondary school classrooms provided with interactive whiteboard technology
  • Addressed pay inequity for long serving teachers
  • Significantly increased scholarships for Caymanian students to pursue higher education (including vocational training programmes) by 72% since 2013 (from 844 to 1456 students)

Creating Employment Opportunities

  • Implemented transparent work permit application process by creating the NWDA/Immigration database interface
  • Launched the National Internship & Apprenticeship Training Programmes, implementing over 10 new programmes that have benefitted more than1000 people so far
  • Over 200 public high school students participating in work attachments with more than 100 employers
  • Established a National Training Council to develop and implement vocational training programmes across all industries
  • Developed and implemented CIFEC/PWD Construction Apprenticeship for Year 12 students
  • Created an online jobs database connecting 1900 employers with active job seekers, averaging about 240 hires per year facilitated by the NWDA
  • Developed a partnership with Cayman Finance to provide education, training and paid work experience for up to 75 Year 12 students per year
  • Developed and implemented leading to over 60 people being hired, with 45 securing long-term employment so far, and only 22% of employers receiving subsidy
  • Reduced the level of poverty by implementing the National Minimum Basic Wage which benefitted aproximately 6,000 families
  • Ensured that any development project granted concessions by this Government also included a requirement for Caymanian jobs
  • All scholarship students now required to register with the NWDA to facilitate access to internships, apprenticeships and other employment transition support
  • Changed the National Pension Law (NPL) so that companies can no longer force people to retire when reaching age 60
  • Changed the NPL provision that discriminated against Caymanians by favouring expatriates taking a lump sum payment when they left the Cayman Islands for just six months
  • Changed the NPL allowing withdrawals from Additional Voluntary Contributions for education, housing, healthcare or unemployment purposes.
  • Increased monthly payouts to retirees to more than CI$1000 depending on age, amount of money in the fund, and adjusted for inflation.

Promoting Gender Equity

  • Commissioned video documentary on the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Cayman Islands
  • Hosted first National Conference on Women in 2014
  • Worked to ensure that the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was extended to the Cayman Islands in 2016

Focusing on West Bay

  • Improved the health and safety of Fire Officers by upgrading and repairing the WB Fire Station
  • Enhanced crosswalks to improve safety of students and pedestrians walking to/from SJACPS and the WB Health Centre
  • Upgraded classrooms, playground equipment and other facilities at SJACPS
  • Established and host the largest annual community event in West Bay – “Old Time New Year” Family Fun Day
  • Establishing a new cemetery in West Bay
  • Working to secure a kitchen facility for Meals on Wheels in West Bay
  • Working to improve pedestrian safety on Batabano Road
  • Working to improve sea wall and boat launch ramp at Garvin Park
  • Working to create a Community & Recreation Centre
  • Working to construct restroom facilities at the SJACPS field
  • Advocating for constituents by raising policing concerns with RCIPS Commissioner (new and previous)
  • Exploring options with respect to a new police station
  • Pursuing options regarding a new school in West Bay