Fewer sign up this year for Christmas cleanup work

Employment Minister Tara Rivers speaks Wednesday with people at the Lions Community Centre looking for work on the government’s National Community Enhancement Project. - Photo: Jewel Levy

More than 300 people turned up at the Lions Community Centre on Wednesday looking for Christmas work under a government-sponsored program.

Last year, more than 700 people signed up for temporary work under the National Community Enhancement Project.

Employment Minister Tara Rivers said she was happy to see fewer people seeking work this year.

“That’s a testament that the government is really committed to trying to improve the employment prospects of all in the country,” said Ms. Rivers.

From as early as 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Caymanians and people with the right to work waited for a chance to get a temporary job in the cleanup project that runs in the weeks before Christmas. The work includes gardening and cleaning public parks, beaches and roadsides, as well as repairs and maintenance on government properties.

After a short welcoming prayer by Jean Solomon, Levi Allen, the Public Works Department Training, Development and Safety Officer and project manager for the program, gave instructions on working safely and some of the guidelines that govern the project.

Tasha Ebanks Garcia, deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Employment, described the registration process as workers went through the various sign-up stations.

Ms. Rivers also told workers that the government is committed to ensuring that those who sign up to work do not just consider the program “free money.”

“That’s not what it’s about. This program is about giving each of you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are willing, are able and you are capable of hard work. My grandmother always said hard work don’t kill nobody,” Ms. Rivers said.

Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden agreed that it was a good thing to see fewer people looking for jobs.

“If we have one person not working, it’s one too much in my mind and my goal is to try and get all of [you] guys, if you want to and really care to, into the workplace,” said Mr. Bodden.

The government spent $444,359 on last year’s program.

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