On 2 February, Senator Nènel Cassis, of the Haitian Commission of Agriculture introduced a bill on "Social Security for Haitian Agricultural Communities" in the Senate.
The bill proposes the establishment of a new organisation called National Institute for Social Security in Rural Areas (INASOP) to identify people working in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and related sectors. All those identified will be offered free access to healthcare, while older people and other vulnerable groups will also be offered a pension.
A solution to the problems faced by informal workers Senators from the Commission of Agriculture met with the Haitian Minister of Social Affairs, Pierre Richelle Lafaille to discuss the new bill.
The Minister voiced his support, saying: "We were invited by the Senate to investigate a bill to support people from agricultural communities who have no social security. The Commission believes that something must be done to protect this sector and people who work hard on the land.
"We all agree that the informal sector in Haiti has many problems. We understand that when people are sick they cannot go to the doctor or go to the hospital. Therefore the senators have decided to seek solutions to these problems. This bill will provide people with social security. They will be able to visit the doctor. To this end, we encourage the work of the Commission."
An opportunity for Haiti's rural communities
HelpAge International's Communications Officer in Haiti, Claudel Victor, said: "This is an extraordinary opportunity for Haitians from rural communities, especially older people. In order to finance this free healthcare and pension system, the bill proposes low-level social contributions and taxes on real estate transactions.
"To pass a law in Haitian parliament can be a complicated and lengthy process. We need to actively support civil society organisations to expedite the process. Through our older people's associations, HelpAge will lobby other parliamentarians and influence public opinion to ensure that the debate moves forward."
Older activists show their support
The new bill is a key focus for our Age Demands Action campaign. To show their support, older activists in Haiti have already met with Senator Cassis to establish the broad outline of the bill.
HelpAge has also prepared a document setting out how the bill could be improved, specifically the articles concerning a pension for older people.
If the bill is passed, it still needs to be voted for in the Senate and the House of Deputies to be implemented as a law. HelpAge, with the efforts and support of our older campaigners, is pushing for the Haitian government to finally implement laws which will ensure that older people in Haiti can lead secure and dignified lives.