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Ministry of Human Development apologizes for “mix-up” in ex-worker Desiree Meggs’ payments

Posted: Friday, April 14, 2023. 9:41 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The story of former foster mother at Dorothy Menzies Child Care Center Desiree Meggs as told by Channel 7 News has caught the attention of Minister of Human Development Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, who was moved today to issue an apology and hastily announce plans to try to make things right.

After a 23-year career overseeing the children of the Child Care Center, Meggs, 53, said she entirely lost her sight in the middle of Albert Street, having just gotten checked up at the Belize Medical Associates clinic at Regent Street and Rectory Lane. A medical board said she was unfit for work and she was eligible for pension and gratuity as well as Social Security invalidity benefits – but while she received the latter in good time, it has been two frustrating years dealing with the former.

Long used to being independent, Meggs, who has both hypertension and diabetes, has been reduced to being dependent on her 23-year-old daughter, who says she has gotten the runaround from the Ministries of Human Development, Finance and the Public Service as to the progress of paperwork filed in December of 2021. It is rapidly becoming urgent as she needs a $4,000 right eye surgery to be performed in Guatemala City, as well as pay bills. While the Ministry of Human Development did in fact complete its end of the paperwork, it is now at the Treasury Department for review.

This morning, the Minister said that she is prepared to go much further than a simple apology: “I am very sorry about it. I have contacted Miss Meggs already this morning and we are actually going to go and visit her. But I do want to say that I have offered an apology on behalf of the government because wherever the slip up was, I think that because the lady worked for us at Human Development and the Dorothy Menzies Childcare Center, we really should apologize to her and make sure that this is corrected as quickly as possible. Like I say, the mix-up happened with some of the paperwork not being in order when the paper went from my ministry over to the treasury and then to the public service. So, we have to wheel and come again to make sure that everything is in order because she was an open-vote worker. So, I do accept some of the blame for Human Development and for that, I apologize.”

The Minister added that to match the urgency of Meggs’ situation, she expects that the resolution takes place in the next week, and she would authorize something to tide Meggs over in that time: “But we are working on it today and we will try to sort this out as quickly as possible, certainly within the next three to four days because clearly, that should not happen to somebody who is now in dire straits with her loss of sight and other difficulties that she is going through. As a matter of fact, I will make sure that our women and families support department, we will give her an immediate ex gratia payment to assist her with going forward and getting the medical support that she will need.”

Balderamos-Garcia says she does not think there are systemic issues behind the situation, but she is committed to ensuring that her administrative and finance staff do not run into this kind of situation again.

 

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