Date
15 December 2017
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong says the government must be well prepared in advance to cope with the coming challenge from Hong Kon'g rapidly aging population. Photo: CNSA
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong says the government must be well prepared in advance to cope with the coming challenge from Hong Kon'g rapidly aging population. Photo: CNSA

Labour and Welfare chief warns of ‘elderly tsunami’

The government must enhance its elderly services as soon as possible to minimize the potential impact of an “elderly tsunami”, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong said.

Citing the latest projections by the Census and Statistics Department, Law said in a blog post on Sunday that the number of people aged 65 or above in Hong Kong is set to more than double in 50 years from 2016. The number of those aged above 85 will more than quadruple by then.

As the number of old people keeps rising, the manpower needed to look after them has shown a double-digit deficiency rate, he said.

Law later told the media that the trend means the government must be well prepared in advance to cope with the coming challenge, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The government has been working to educate the elderly to learn, prevent and manage health issues so as to push back their needs for long-term care and therefore help ease social burden, he said.

While he foresaw demand for elderly services will continue rising, he also expressed worries that the labor force will continue shrinking.

Many workers who constitute the main source of the labor force will enter retirement age over the next 10 years. It is not hard to imagine that labor shortage in Hong Kong will worsen, Law said.

Law said it is imperative for the government to find ways to encourage the elderly to join the workforce, as well as develop various kinds of labor sources.

In addition, Law said “hidden families” remain a big concern for the government, although it has been targeting them for many years.

He called for cooperation to help tackle the issue of hidden families, urging people to pay attention to what is happening in their neighborhood and discern those in need of social services.

The call came after a 48-year-old mother and her 15-year-old son were found dead in a flat in Shan King Estate, a public housing estate in Tuen Mun, on Thursday, with police estimating they had in fact been dead for three to four weeks.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred people took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor grant every citizen aged 65 or above HK$3,500 a month in universal retirement protection.

The organizer, Alliance for Universal Pension, said they had attempted to arrange a meeting with Lam several times in the past six months to discuss the issue, only to receive a rejection letter.

The group criticized Lam for failing to fulfill her campaign promise to communicate with people extensively.

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