The Malta Independent 16 July 2020, Thursday

Delia targets government over 10,816 unemployed

Shona Berger Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 20:06 Last update: about 2 months ago

During Parliament on Wednesday Opposition Leader Adrian Delia took aim at the government over unemployment.

Delia and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne were debating the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) Estimates of 2020.

Opposition Leader Delia remarked that "currently, due to COVID-19, workplaces are on people's minds and they are the most troubling, however it is the least subject that the government wants to talk about."


An NSO report, Delia said, "clearly says that during April 2020, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed persons was 10, 816." Delia continued by saying that "the government is treating 7,000 of the total as if they don't exist."

Delia said that Prime Minister Robert Abela told the public to go back to work, however he questioned the government as to where the 10,816 should go if they have no job.

"The only people in the country who feel safe are the people who protect the government; friends and political friends of PM Abela who are protected by Castile. The rest of the people mean nothing - they are all ants; small numbers that for this government mean nothing," he said.

He remarked that the uncertainty in this country has grown even further as "we have seen in recent weeks that every time the authorities say something, PM Abela says something against it."

Delia also mentioned that a number of institutions such as the Malta Association of Public Health, the Chamber of Pharmacists, the Nurses Union, the MEA, the Psychiatric Association, amongst others have lamented on the government's actions in recent days as they did not follow the advice of the health authorities, just when the country is in a health emergency.

He insisted that the "Prime Minister should publish the advice he is receiving and following when taking such decisions as to provide the public peace of mind that the government has been following evidence based on science and facts."

Delia also spoke about the selling of Steward Healthcare. He said that "the government did not say whether Steward was sold and who bought it.

Replying to questions made by the Opposition, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne made reference to what Delia said about the increase in unemployment and said that "the economic sector and job losses have not only been experienced by our country but job losses have grown worldwide due to the global pandemic. Many governments have had to make certain restrictive measures in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus even further, thus this resulted in a number of issues even with people's jobs."

Unfortunately, the more restrictive the measures were in order to safeguard public health, the more losses were experienced, Fearne said.

He reminded that at the beginning of this pandemic in our country, if it were for the opposition, Malta should have gone into a total lockdown. "Thus, if it were for them, the number of people who have lost their jobs would have been much higher, and the situation would have been much worse if we went into total lockdown."

In addition, Fearne addressed the situation regarding the Steward Healthcare that was brought up by Delia.

Fearne explained that he had been verbally informed by the CEO of Steward about the developments and said that "the government is currently awaiting a written explanation from Steward Healthcare after its ownership changed

Regarding the OHSA, Fearne remarked that "the authority is working with a surplus, not because they did not do work but because they were smart and they managed to generate funds, thus they remained with a surplus."

He remarked that the "OHSA has worked successfully, as when one looks at the figures, one will see that Malta had the lowest accident and fatality rate at the workplace in all Europe."

Fearne expressed that the notion of education and raising awareness is extremely important as it allows the government to see what needs to be done, recognize its importance and take action. "Education is not enough however, as there also needs to be enforcement." 

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