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Your family is our business | Paula Mifsud Bonnici

PN candidate Paula Mifsud Bonnici: Our family-friendly measures are not only sensible, serious and sustainable, but also have spin-off benefits for other sectors

9 May 2017, 1:18pm
Our first family-friendly proposal addresses the youngest components of family units, those most dependent on adult care
Our first family-friendly proposal addresses the youngest components of family units, those most dependent on adult care
The family, and its wellbeing, have always been at the heart of the Nationalist Party’s policies. Choosing Malta is no abstract concept, since Malta means all of our society, our health, our prosperity, and most of all, our children. Bettering the quality of life for everybody must start with the family.

It is no surprise then that the second round of concrete proposals which we are presenting focus on making the daily lives of Maltese families better, in a sensible and sustainable way. We shall assist those who have started, or are in the process of starting, a family. That is precisely why, following a serious assessment of the situation, we have made five concrete proposals which a new PN government will introduce to help make everybody’s life better.

Our first family-friendly proposal addresses the youngest components of family units, those most dependent on adult care. Free childcare will be available for all parents, not just for those who work.

This positive step forward is intended to help reduce the pressure on young parents in carrying out their daily lives, which includes, but is not limited to, having to go to work. This proposal builds on existing provisions, and makes them even better. It is a radical step forward, which removes the conditionality currently attached to this social measure.

To further help families bringing up children, we shall also increase children’s allowances by a minimum of €100 per child per year for everybody. We understand the additional difficulties that families on lower earnings have to face on a daily basis, and therefore those families with lower incomes, being in need of more assistance, will receive €200 per child per year. Those earning less will get more.  This means that families on the minimum wage will be receiving €650 per year per child.

The first years of a baby’s life are very demanding on parents, especially on the mother. Currently, a new mother is entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave. A Nationalist government will allocate an additional four weeks of maternity leave, bringing it up to 22 weeks. The additional four weeks of salary will be borne by the state even in the private sector, thus also protecting the interests of employers.

The importance of the role of the father in this crucial period is also not to be underestimated, and a PN government will propose to the MCESD a state-funded programme under which new fathers will be given four weeks of paternity leave, giving them the possibility to be there for their family, during the first month of their newborn baby’s life.

Once this proposal, which comes at no extra financial burden to private employers, is approved by the social partners at the MCESD, it shall be implemented immediately. 

When children wake up sick, it is disruptive on families, especially when parents need to go to work. Childcare, kindergarten or school are not options, and they cannot be left alone at home. Too often, we find parents having no choice but playing sick themselves in order to stay at home with their children. Parents should not be subjected to having to resort to such white lies, just to look after their children.

Even if they have some other solution, and still go to work, their concern for their children’s health will still distract them from their duties, and this, in certain jobs, might even be dangerous. A Nationalist government, after consulting with employers, will introduce a measure whereby parents will have access to their own sick leave entitlement, even if it is their children who are sick, not themselves. By regularising this necessity, abuse will be discouraged, as it will give parents a legitimate way to look after their sick children, without having to resort to ‘cheating’ their employer. The removal of the internal tug of war between the needs of their sick children, and job obligations, will contribute in no small way to increasing staff loyalty, and provide a win-win situation for employee and employer alike.

Transport is a national issue, and driving children to and from school causes time-consuming stress for parents, and increases road congestion. A PN government will provide free school transport for all school children, irrespective of the school they attend, be it state, church or private. This measure has the added potential benefit of removing thousands of cars from our roads every day.

This is an election based on a battle between principles, and not between proposals. The PN has always based its policies and proposals on honest and serious principles, and not on salesman-like convenience. We are not promising everything to everybody in a last-ditch attempt for votes, but are laying out proposals based on our principles.

A Nationalist government, with Dr Simon Busuttil as Prime Minister, will discuss and achieve consensus on all these measures, as we want to be a government built on dialogue, consultation and mutual understanding. Good governance, and dialogue with all social partners are key to success, and our family-friendly measures are not only sensible, serious and sustainable, but also have spin-off benefits for other sectors. 

On 3 June we have to choose between Joseph Muscat and Malta. For the Nationalist Party, Malta is its people, your families and your continued prosperity. This prosperity has been threatened by the scandal-wracked government which Joseph Muscat ran. That is why the choice is clear.

Paula Mifsud Bonnici is a candidate for the Nationalist party on the first district

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