90% of J’cans with disability out of work – Daley

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Opposition Spokesperson for Gender, Persons with Disabilities is claiming that of the estimated 450,000 Jamaicans living with a disability only 10 per cent or 45,000 are employed.

Daley made the claim during her contribution to the 2024/25 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives this week.

“It was disheartening for me to learn that the marginalisation of this population of persons with disabilities (PWDs) continues to rise,” said Daley, who is also the Member of Parliament for St Catherine Eastern.

Describing them as “resilient individuals”, Daley cited that PWDs continue to be at a disadvantage because of low levels of education, poor health outcomes and access, extremely high unemployment, negative social attitudes and stereotyping.

“The time has come in this 21st Century to ensure that this cycle of neglect comes to an abrupt end. It will take deliberate will and action. Employment and accessibility are foundational for all Jamaicans, but our population of persons with disabilities is particularly challenged in this regard,” Daley remarked.

“We can’t be a nation boasting about employment statistics when approximately 90 per cent of the population of persons with disabilities in Jamaica is unemployed. Yes, only 10 per cent of our disabled brothers and sisters who are able to work have jobs! This is extremely alarming,” Daley added.

She questioned; ‘How can they develop a sense of independence and stability?’

‘How can these brothers and sisters help their families where it is necessary?’

‘How must they survive in an already challenging and inequitable environment?’

The Opposition Spokesperson said a future People’s National Party (PNP) Government will enact policies that will generate sustainable employment and accessibility for PWDs.

“We have to help to change the mindset of people who still have irrational negative stereotypes and help them to embrace persons with disabilities within their businesses,” Daley stated. She said they must also get equal pay, for equal work done at the workplace.

She shared that the next PNP administration will create opportunities for PWDs across agriculture, education, manufacturing and tourism.

“The cultural and creative, innovation and digital industries also provide excellent opportunities for individuals for whom mobility, sight, hearing and even cognitive processing are a challenge,” Daley noted.

And, she said consideration should be given to how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact marginalised people, including PWDs.

 “While AI holds promise for improving accessibility and creating new opportunities, we must ensure that it doesn’t fuel existing inequalities,” the PNP spokesperson concluded.