Barbados Health Minister, Donville Inniss, says that smoking in public spaces will be banned on the island as of October 1. He was addressing the annual Errol Barrow Memorial fundraising dinner of the Democratic Labour Party (Canada) in Scarborough Saturday night.
Last February, Trinidad & Tobago became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to impose a ban on smoking in public.
Inniss said the anti-smoking legislation is designed to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
“We took the view that we cannot bow to the pressure of a select few and watch others suffer,” he said in his keynote address. “We will continue to mount aggressive but effective educational programs designed to make Barbadians more aware of the harmful effects of their behaviour.”
Individuals breaking the no-smoking law could face a Can$250 fine and/or a 12-month prison term. Business owners failing to display at least two no-smoking signs on their property could be fined as much as Can$2,500 and/or face a one-year prison term.
The DLP Canada was established four years ago and Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, who is also the party’s president, attended the previous three fundraisers. He was unable to attend this year’s event because of illness. The 48-year-old Thompson has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was in New York last week for treatment.
“I urge you to remember our president and PM as he battles illness,” said Inniss, who joined the party 25 years ago. “I have watched him operate like a true David, battling against many a Goliath over the years until 32 months ago when he finally became PM. Since then, we have battled side by side as a team to correct many of the wrongs on our beautiful island and to build a sustainable economy and society for generations to come.
“I am sure that the PM will battle the challenges he faces today like he has battled many Goliaths before. As the frailties of mankind pose its challenges to our PM today, as it will to most of us tomorrow, I want to confirm to you Barbadians in Canada that your government at home is staying the course and will continue to build a society that Barbadians and friends of Barbados, wherever you are, can feel justly proud of.”
Inniss, who served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business for a few months before being given responsibility for the health ministry, said the government is taking bold steps to enhance health care and training.
“In a few weeks time, I will be presenting a Medical Registration Bill in parliament designed to improve the doctors’ management skills and discipline,” he said, adding that mandatory continuing training for health care professionals will be included in the proposed law.
“We have to be kept on our toes at all times as we strive to improve our health care system for the benefit of those who reside at home and those of you outside the country who use it from time to time,” he said.
Inniss encouraged Barbadian organizations in Canada and the rest of the Diaspora to contribute to the development of the island’s health care system by providing medical equipment and using their networks to secure training opportunities for Barbadian health care workers.
Former Black Business and Professional Association president and DLP Canada co-founder Hugh Graham was presented with the President’s award; retired Toronto Police Service Deputy Chief Keith Forde was recognized for excellence in law enforcement and Dr. Laurie Hill and Dr. Issam El-Takli were honoured for humanitarian assistance.
Barbados’ Alexandra High School graduate Katrina Edwards was honoured by the alumni group in Toronto at last Saturday night’s event. She passed nine CXC subjects, six with distinction.
The 15-year-old, who won a Chevron scholarship to attend the Global Youth leadership conference in Washington and New York this year, is enrolled at Barbados Community College. She wants to become an accountant.
Errol Barrow, who founded the DLP, trained with the Royal Air Force in the Maritimes and was conferred with an honorary doctorate of Civil Law by McGill University in 1966, the same year he led his country to independence and became his country’s first prime minister.