Call for policy changes to help seniors

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party's Women's Wing is calling for changes to housing, healthcare and employment policies to strengthen support for seniors.

It has come out with a position paper setting out its recommendations. The paper, presented at the Women's Wing's annual conference on Saturday, calls for mandatory eldercare leave, housing subsidies for single caregivers of the elderly, and help for older entrepreneurs, among other measures.

Ageing issues are particularly important to the Women's Wing as women are expected to form the majority of Singapore's elderly, The Straits Times quoted Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef as telling the conference.

On mandatory eldercare leave, Dr Fatimah suggested that a week's leave might be appropriate. She hoped this and other suggestions could be put in place within two years.

Other suggestions included helping more elderly homeowners monetise their property, by extending the lease buyback scheme to larger flats and giving options for asset rich but cash-poor owners of private property.

The Women's Wing also hopes to see changes in social support. It wants the able-bodied elderly to be encouraged to help the less able-bodied, and more government support to be given to caregivers.

The position paper has been presented to the PAP Seniors group (PAP.SG), set up late last year to address elderly issues, The Straits Times reported.

PAP.SG has released a paper calling for more public spending to ensure that healthcare remains affordable for older Singaporeans, especially members of the pioneer generation.

It was also highlighted at the Women's Wing conference that six out of 10 companies here have all-male boards, and only 8 per cent of board directors are women.

This puts Singapore behind its neighbours, like Hong Kong (9 per cent) and Indonesia (11 per cent), Channel NewsAsia reported.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who gave these figures, said: "For a company to say that I value women as employees is one thing. But when there are no board appointments, it sends the wrong signal to women working in that company."

There were no plans to push for legislation on this now, but Ms Fu would not rule out the possibility in future.

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