Leading social welfare groups yesterday urged the nation’s presidential candidates to improve benefits for young people, the disabled, the elderly and children, identifying several areas for improvements.
Although the three candidates addressed social welfare issues during their Dec. 3 TV debate, they failed to put forth specific plans for improvement, Taiwan Social Welfare League chairman Bai Hsiu-hsiung (白秀雄) said during a press conference at the legislature.
The groups also called on the government to provide facilities that were accessible for everyone, improve programs for long-term care services, fully utilize unused buildings, protect the rights of social workers, as well as improve childcare policies and social benefits for children and young people.
The government should take a cue from advanced countries and ensure that 40 percent of all buses do not have access barriers, subsidize disability-friendly taxis and install facilities for the disabled at artistic, cultural and recreational venues, the groups said.
The government should also establish at least one elderly daycare center in each town and enhance training for both local and foreign caregivers to meet the needs of the elderly, they said.
Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), secretary-general of the League of Welfare Improvement for Older People, said the biggest problems with the government’s long-term care services are a lack of caregivers and an insufficient budget.
She said the government should not rely on foreign caregivers, but should focus on attracting more domestic caregivers to fill positions.
In addition, Wu said the government should provide a guaranteed, sufficient budget plan for long-term care services because budgets for such services often come from the government’s reserve funds. These funds can also be allocated for other uses, such as natural disaster relief efforts, she said.
Furthermore, the group said the government should fund the restoration of unused buildings throughout the country and use these buildings for social welfare projects.
They added that social workers whose jobs entail protection or violence prevention and control should be protected by the government and given adequate salaries that reflect the hard nature of their work.
Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華), general-secretary of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, said the government encourages people to have more babies, but does not provide adequate education and employment opportunities for young people.
Instead of overcoming poverty through education, she said many disadvantaged young people are burdened by school loans and are unable to find jobs after graduation.
She suggested lowering the voting age to 18 so that young people could have a say in politics and that politicians would be motivated to formulate better policies for young people.
Yeh is one of the representatives of 12 civic groups that were invited to pose a question to the candidates in the second presidential TV debate on Saturday.