SINGAPORE: A new Ministry of Manpower (MOM) division will be set up to support migrant workers and dormitory operators amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry announced on Saturday (Aug 22).
The Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group will take over the operations of the inter-agency task force, which was formed in early April to support the migrant workers and dormitory operators. The task force is made up of officers seconded from MOM, the Singapore Armed Forces, The Home Team, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Communications and Information and other agencies.
“With the completion of dormitory clearance, the ACE Group’s immediate focus is to continue with the efforts to enable our dormitories to be more resilient and prevent new public health threats to our migrant worker population,” MOM said in a press release.
READ: COVID-19: Authorities monitoring migrant worker dorms to manage risk of outbreaks after new cases reported
The group will be fully operational by Oct 1, with the handover to be carried out in phases from August to September to “ensure a smooth transition”.
“The ACE Group will provide assurance to migrant workers living in dormitories and workers working in the dormitories, including the dormitory operators,” the ministry said.
“It will also provide care for workers through a comprehensive medical support plan and make health services more accessible to migrant workers. In addition, it will enhance engagement with workers and other stakeholders to foster stronger partnerships with Singaporeans, workers’ groups, employers and dormitory operators.”
The newly formed group will also continue to deploy the Forward Assurance and Support Teams (FASTs). This will cover dormitories and private residential premises. The teams help migrant workers with their needs, such as remitting money home to families.
The ACE Group is also implementing a network of about 12 onsite medical centres and sectoral medical centres to provide access to medical services as the regional health clusters phase out their deployment at the dormitories.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo praised the officers of the inter-agency task force, which cleared the dormitories of COVID-19 and tested more than 300,000 migrant workers.
"From the start, they took care of our workers’ essential needs: Ensuring their salaries were paid, providing them with three daily meals and access to good medical support for their physical and emotional well-being," said Mrs Teo in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"I thank the task force for sparing no effort to look after our migrant workers in every way," she added.
The new ACE group will “spearhead efforts to create a sustainable ecosystem for our migrant workers, one which betters their lives and safeguards them from future public health risks”, she said, adding that it will "build on the strong foundation" laid by the inter-agency task force.
In a Facebook post, Second Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng also thanked the officers of the task force, and said: "Taking care of the safety, welfare and well-being of our migrant workers during this process was no mean feat.
"With our key objective at the dormitories attained, it is also time for seconded officers from the other agencies to resume their regular duties."