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CE's speech in delivering "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" to LegCo (7)
A Caring and Inclusive Hong Kong

Care Teams in 18 Districts

93. I proposed in my election manifesto to set up District Services and Community Care Teams (Care Teams). The Government will set up the Care Teams and will devise governance structures and operational arrangements, provide some of the resources required and set KPIs. The 18 districts in Hong Kong will be delineated into sub-districts, based on which we will widely engage local organisations and groups to form Care Teams to pull together all sectors including young people and ethnic minorities to take part in community building. The Care Teams will organise caring activities, such as visiting the needy. We will first set up the Care Teams in Tsuen Wan and the Southern District in the first quarter of 2023, and in the remaining 16 districts in phases.

District Administration

94. The current-term District Councils will expire by end‑2023. I have asked the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau (HYAB) and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau to conduct a review on district administration and put forward suggestions to ensure that the future arrangement will be in conformity with the Basic Law, in adherence to the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", and conducive to enhancing governance efficacy at the district level.

Targeted Poverty Alleviation

95. The current-term Government adopts the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation by directing resources to those most in need. The Task Force to Lift Underprivileged Students out of Intergenerational Poverty, led by the Chief Secretary for Administration, launched the Strive and Rise Programme in September through tripartite collaboration among the Government, business sector and community. The programme targets more than 2 000 junior secondary students (particularly those living in sub‑divided units) with mentorship, personal development planning and financial support. It has been well received by the community. Upon programme evaluation, we will chart the way forward and consider increasing mentee quotas and expanding the target group.

96. I have also asked the Chief Secretary for Administration to restructure the Commission on Poverty to study and identify any other target group for poverty alleviation.

Employees' Remuneration and Occupational Safety

97. Labour is key to social productivity and should share the benefits of economic growth. To improve labour rights, the Government will:

(i) invite the Minimum Wage Commission to study how to enhance the review mechanism of the statutory minimum wage, including the review cycle, how to improve efficiency, and balancing a host of factors such as the minimum wage level and sustained economic development, and make proposals to the Government;

(ii) set a good example and further review the arrangement relating to the employment of non-skilled workers under government outsourced service contracts, including remuneration of workers, as well as relevant monitoring mechanism. We aim to conclude the review by the first quarter of 2023; and

(iii) enhance the procedures of the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund, including providing legal services by the Fund to assist employees in filing winding-up or bankruptcy petitions against insolvent employers, so as to expedite the disbursement of ex-gratia payment to affected employees.

98. Many sectors are now seeing a shortage of manpower. To encourage the public to enrol in training and enter the workforce, the Government will invite the Employees Retraining Board to consider raising the daily rate of retraining allowance and providing allowances for half-day courses for implementation by the first quarter of 2023.

99. Fatal industrial accidents result in tragic loss of lives, and cause distress to families over the loss of their loved ones. The Government will spare no effort in investigating each and every incident, pursuing responsibilities of those who should be held accountable and putting in place improvement measures. We will seek the passage of the relevant bill under scrutiny by the LegCo as soon as possible to increase the maximum penalties for occupational safety offences, thereby enhancing their deterrent effect.

Caring for the Elderly

100. Hong Kong has the longest life expectancy in the world. The vast majority of the elderly live and age in the community with the support of their families or the Government. Only about 4% reside in RCHEs. Furthermore, about three quarters of the elderly population (about 1.1 million people) are receiving financial assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme and Social Security Allowance Scheme. The Government will improve elderly services with due emphasis on both quality and quantity, and adhere to the policy objective of promoting "ageing in place as the core, with institutional care as back-up".

Support Ageing in Place

101. To strengthen the support for elderly persons to age in place, the Government will:

(i) regularise the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly in the third quarter of 2023. The number of beneficiaries will increase by 50% in phases, from 8 000 at present to 12 000 in 2025-26. The coverage of the scheme will also be expanded to include rental of assistive technology products;

(ii) set up 16 new neighbourhood elderly centres in the next five years and expand the services in the fourth quarter of 2023 to cover areas such as retirement planning and promotion of gerontechnology; and

(iii) expand the HA's Integrated Discharge Support Programme for Elderly Patients by increasing the number of beneficiaries by one third, from about 33 000 to 45 000 per annum, in the third quarter of 2023. The number of beneficiaries who can be referred to home support services will increase from about 9 000 to 11 000, so as to support more discharged elderly patients to recover at home.

Enhance Support for Carers

102. Carers play an important role in supporting elderly persons and persons with disabilities to live in the community. They deserve more recognition and stronger support. From October 2023, the Government will regularise the allowance for carers of elderly persons and persons with disabilities under the Community Care Fund and raise the amount of subsidy. For instance, the monthly living allowance for carers from low-income families will be increased by 25% from $2,400 to $3,000, benefitting about 10 000 carers. In addition, a number of measures will be rolled out from next year, including setting up a one-stop information gateway and a designated hotline for carers, increasing the number of respite service places and enhancing the service enquiry system, promoting community-based peer support for carers, and launching a territory-wide publicity campaign to raise public awareness of the needs of carers.

Lift the Quality and Quantity of Residential Care Homes for the Elderly

103. At present, there are about 75 000 RCHEs in Hong Kong, of which about 35 000 are subsidised service places. The Government is making its best endeavour to increase the number of subsidised service places. Our target is to provide an additional 6 200 places by end-2027, an increase of 20%. Of these, 2 600 places will commence service next year. We will build RCHEs on suitable sites, reserve about 5% of the total GFA in public housing development projects for welfare purposes such as the provision of RCHEs, and purchase places from private RCHEs. We will also leverage market forces to boost the supply. I have asked the DEVB and the LWB to put forward proposals early next year to provide more incentives, such as granting GFA concessions, to encourage developers to build elderly service facilities in their private development projects.

104. In the coming five years, we will subsidise an additional 1 700 or more students to enrol in nurse training programmes. They will be required to work in the welfare sector for at least three years upon graduation. The Government will also undertake a holistic review of the skill and qualification requirements of residential care home staff, so as to establish professional standards and a career progression path.

Protecting Children

105. It is heart breaking to learn of child abuse cases in recent years. We will take forward at full steam the setting up of a mandatory reporting mechanism for child abuse cases by introducing a bill into the LegCo in the first half of 2023. We will also provide training for relevant practitioners to facilitate their early identification and reporting of child abuse cases. Furthermore, we have identified areas requiring focused efforts for improvement in residential child care services. We will improve service quality in a holistic manner, enhance service plan, strengthen law‑enforcing inspections and engage independent persons to conduct unannounced inspections.

Empowering Women

106. In the next three years, we will substantially increase funding for organising activities to promote women development by the Women's Commission from $4 million to $10 million per annum. A Women Empowerment Fund will be set up to subsidise community projects that support women in balancing job and family commitments, and unleashing their potential.

Ethnic Minorities

107. To further enhance the support for ethnic minorities, we will recruit more ethnic minorities for appointment as Employment Assistants and General Assistants in the Labour Department, and set up a service centre on a trial basis to provide emotional support and counselling for ethnic minorities.

(To be continued.)
Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 13:07
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