Statement from Premier Wheatley – One-on-one press conference October 28, 2022

Good morning to people of the Virgin Islands and members of the media.

I’m proud to be sitting here dressed in pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We remember those we have lost to the scourge of cancer; we celebrate the tenacity of spirit of the survivors; and we urge all concerned to examine your breasts regularly, so that you can be aware of any significant changes and to have annual mammograms to ensure that your breasts are safe and sound.

I also want to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which we wore purple in recognition of last Friday. I’m concerned about the increase in cases of domestic violence, but I’m glad people are breaking the silence and reporting these cases. I call on all people to resolve disputes peacefully and responsibly.

We also recognize those who have worked hard to raise awareness for the condition known as Spina Bifida. I am grateful to know how people right here at BVI are affected by this condition and how we can support them.

Once again, I congratulate the Right Honorable Rishi Sunak on being appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. We look forward to working with the Prime Minister’s new administration to develop a truly modern partnership. Earlier this week, we learned that the Right Honorable Jesse Norman has been appointed Minister in the Department of Transport. We are impatiently awaiting the announcement of the new Minister for Overseas Territories. Unfortunately, the Joint Ministerial Council, which was due to take place in just over a week, has been postponed. We look forward to a date in the near future where we can engage with the new Minister and the FCDO with our fellow occupational therapists.

I am grateful for the support of OECS leaders who have supported the Virgin Islands as we navigate this period of reform while defending our democratic rights. It is important that our regional counterparts hold all parties accountable to our obligations under the UN, including Article 73. It was an honor to deliver my maiden speech at the 72n/a OECS Authority meeting, and we are grateful to Prime Minister Joseph Farrell and the government of Monserratt for their warm hospitality.

On the local front, I would like to inform the public of a very important cabinet decision, which established what is now known as the RATED program.

This program was formulated to provide services to members of our community who are unemployed and underemployed. Assessed is an acronym that stands for Enrolment, Learning, Training, Employment and Development. The concept provides training and learning opportunities for individuals to develop the knowledge and skills needed to become more marketable in the workplace. It also offers temporary employment opportunities in the public sector for activities such as agriculture and beautification. This group will also benefit from personal development opportunities through life skills classes and access to motivational speakers. You will learn more about the RATED program in the days and weeks to come.

This week I also met with the British agency responsible for investigating maritime accidents. We would all be aware of the boating accident that recently claimed the lives of a young woman and a 6-year-old girl. I look forward to this agency’s report and the lessons we can learn from this accident to improve safety on the water. We continue to pray for the families of the deceased.

Finally, I reiterate my calls for the community to help our law enforcement bring to justice those responsible for last week’s horrific murder. WE continue to pray for the families affected and we call on the community to unite in condemning this irresponsible act of violence.

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