The spread of the new coronavirus is still ongoing and has had major effects on the quality of life for the general public. DAB Legislative Councillors Vincent Cheng, Leung Che-Cheung, Ben Chan as well as Kwun Tong District Council Frankie Ngan along with Chairperson of the DAB Family Affairs Committee Jacqueline Chung met with Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-Kwong and political assistant Henry Fung.
The DAB strongly urges the government to speed up the procurement process to ensure a sufficient supply of masks for local residents. Secretary Law replied that the government has already procured masks globally via different channels and means. Also, the DAB has received many inquiries from cross-boundary container truck drivers who are worried that they must stop work or become under-employed due to the 14-day quarantine. The Secretary replied that freight services between the Mainland and Hong Kong will not be affected and logistics drivers between the two places will be exempt from the quarantine.
The DAB has proposed the following 6 supportive measures over this difficult period.
1) The government should quickly set up an “unemployment assistance fund”.
Recently the Chief Executive announced the $10 billion fund would be set up to fight for the outbreak and we strongly urge the government to announce its details as soon as possible. We propose that there should be funding earmarked to help those who are now unemployed due to the crisis.
Also, in January the government proposed that the Community Care Fund will lay out time-limited cash allowances for the unemployed and the under-employed. We hope the government can quickly release the details of this project and hand them out before October this year.
2) Provide free masks to the elderly and the disadvantaged
The government should optimize the use of the masks reserve and distribute free masks, bleach and hand sanitizers to the elderly and the disadvantaged. The government should ensure that childcare centres, senior care centres and organisations providing integrated family services have sufficient preventive supplies.
3) Ensure that cleansing workers and security guards from outsourcing companies have sufficient protection
The government should give priority to these frontline workers when handing out masks. The Labour Department should inform employers that they must prevent workers from working without adequate protection.
4) Support cross-border workers and their families
Recently the government imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine on all the people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland. The government should quickly explain the details of quarantine arrangements to remove any worries of the general public.
5) Assist domestic helpers stranded in the Philippines to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible
We urge the Immigration Department and the Consulate proactively address this situation and assist domestic helpers stranded in the Philippines to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.
6) Set up a “frontline medical staff allowance”
Many existing and retired medical staff still stand firm on their post to take care patients. We urge the government to disburse a one-time “frontline medical staff allowance” to them.
After reports on the actions by the medical workers’ union, strikes are brewing in other unions such as the airline trade union. The government should intervene in related issues in time to stop these potential strikes from threatening the stability of Hong Kong society.
Legislative Councilor and DAB Spokesperson on Manpower Vincent Cheng (6373 1979)
Legislative Councilor and DAB Spokesperson on Welfare Services Leung Che-Cheung (9016 8088)
Legislative Councilor and DAB Spokesperson on Welfare Services Ben Chan (9274 7035)