Updated: 03/05/2014 01:15

Older workers main concern for MPs



Older workers main concern for MPs

MP for Tampines GRC Irene Ng has voiced the need to go beyond the Pioneer Generation Package's focus on healthcare benefits and reward seniors who take care of their overall well-being. 

Speaking during the Budget debate, she says it'll be meaningful to complement the package with schemes that improve their quality of life while they are still healthy. 

"I was having my regular swim the other day and met a neighbour in his 80s. As we got out of the pool, I told him about the PGP. So his first response was - oh that's good. But nothing for me when I'm fit and healthy. And indeed many elderly in my constituency also echoed that view. Why must we wait until we're sick or dying before enjoying the benefits of being a pioneer."

Ms Ng says one way to do this is to step up efforts upstream in preventive healthcare and provide more funding for wellness centres that cater to active seniors. 

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Penny Low asks if more can be done to provide work for the marginalised elderly. 

She suggests that this be done through local social enterprises. 

"Can the government inject higher and bigger funds to incentivise social enterprises and companies to tap on this latent workforce and give a boost for the marginalised community? Nothing gives more dignity than work."

Nominated MP Tan Su Shan zeroed in on workers aged 50 and above, saying that the rising unemployment among this segment is troubling. 

"In short, elderly Singaporeans find they need to work later in life but are finding it harder to get a job. So how do we improve the employability of seniors? One solution is to improve their productivity. The other may be to redefine the concept of work, especially for the elderly or those who have retired and are thinking of a new career. The second solution means a change in social norms and workplace culture, where workplace flexibility is accepted and mature workers are allowed to learn new skills."

MP for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh worry that the one percentage point increase in employer's CPF contribution rate for workers aged 50 to 55 from January next year might cause them their jobs. 

"The overwhelming majority of Singaporeans in this age bracket do not qualify for the PGP and would need to build up their Medisave and retirement balances in light of the higher Medishield Life premiums. I hope employers do consider this larger societal concern, even as they battle on to develop new productivity initiatives, and manage with fewer foreign workers, in addition to the ever-present business challenges of high overheads."

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