Deputy PM says Steward Health Care is still committed to working in Malta

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne said that the Government has been verbally informed by the CEO of  Steward Healthcare in Malta that an American shareholder has bought the shares of Steward Healthcare.  He said that the Government is awaiting a written explanation about this, after which it will consider its position. He said that Steward Health Care still have a commitment to work in Malta and the employees do not have to worry.

Chris Fearne was speaking in Parliament during the discussion on the financial estimates of the OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Organisation).

He was replying to criticism by the Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia who accused the Government of not saying whether Steward HealthCare has been sold, and who has bought it.

People registering with Jobsplus

Dr Delia has accused the PM Robert Abela that not only has he not spoken about Steward but has ignored the 7,000 people who are unemployed. He said that the report by National Office of Statistics for April shows that in all, there are 10,816 people who are unemployed while 3,900 are registering with Jobsplus.  He also criticised the PM whom he accused of not following the advice of the health authorities.

Opposition leader said that building is taking place without the law being observed, because contractors are expecting an amnesty.   He also said that the Police, soldiers and other members of staff do not have any security when they intervene to calm things down when trouble breaks out where irregular immigrants live.

Malta has the least number of fatal accidents at the workplace in Europe

In his reply, Deputy PM Fearne said that the Leader of the Opposition had spoken about many things, however he did not speak about health and safety at the workplace. He said that Malta has the least rate of fatal workplace accidents in Europe. He  said that this was due to the OHSA which carries out educational and informative campaigns while regular inspections are carried out at places of work. As a result of these inspections,  last year 350 fines were issued while legal action was taken in 100 other cases.

Minister Fearne said that the tragic case of the building which collapsed in Hamrun in which a woman lost her life,  is very sad, however it does not fall under the competence of the OHSA,  although it deserves to be discussed.

The Health Minister said that work is being carried out at leading companies for a specifically trained official to take care of the mental health of employees and for steps to be taken as soon as a problem arises.

Speaking about the COVID 19 situation, the Deputy PM said that the fact we have a low rate of positive patients and active cases, are facts which no one can dispute.   He said that now the country has more statistical tools, human resources as well as equipment to confront the virus.  He said that if the Government had listened to the Opposition and imposed a total lockdown the number of unemployed people would be much larger.

The allegations about Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo

Minister Fearne referred to the allegation made by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi during the adjournment of Tuesday’s sitting where he said that the Police are investigating Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo about building the prefabricated hospital.

He told Dr Azzopardi that he could not use his Parliamentary privilege to make such insinuations and cast unfounded suspicions. While Parliamentary Secretary Bartolo declared that what Dr Azzopardi had said was not sure, he pointed out that the company mentioned by Dr Azzopardi. had not even submitted its bid for the hospital tender.

He said that if the MP had any facts in his hands, he should table them in Parliament or go to the Police, otherwise he should withdraw the accusations he has made.