Singapore to seek public engagement with young couples on raising families in a post-COVID-19 world
SINGAPORE: The Government will launch a series of public engagement sessions with young couples on raising families in a post-COVID-19 world, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah, who oversees the National Population and Talent Division (NTPD), on Friday (Jan 1).
Ms Indranee said the aim of these conversations, which will begin after the February Budget, was to understand the issues and concerns young families have in the new post-pandemic normal, given that COVID-19 has caused some couples to defer marriage plans and others to worry about costs.
“It’s important if we want Singapore to be a family-friendly place, if we want Singapore to be a place that supports couples and families, to understand what young couples and families are thinking about,” Ms Indranee said at a virtual media interview during her visit to KK Women's and Children's Hospital to meet babies born in the New Year.
Through the sessions, which will be held online, Ms Indranee said she hoped to find out what the issues that may need to be addressed were, and see whether they were policies or initiatives that needed to be introduced.
"Our TFR (total fertility rate) is 1.14, we would dearly love it be better. But having that better also means that you must also make sure that families are better supported," she said.
She raised the idea of remote work as a topic that could be debated during these virtual gatherings - how flexible work arrangements have both helped and hindered parents, and how to make it part of the new normal.
Ms Indranee said the goal was to be “as comprehensive as possible” in the people the Government hears from. They will reach out to young families at different life stages, including newlyweds, expecting parents, those with children up to primary school age, single parents, and parents with special needs kids.
The priority, she added, was to support Singaporean families - but it would not “exclude feedback” from permanent residents or foreigners.
The authorities, said Ms Indranee, were still figuring out the “optimum number” of people to speak to, and other policymakers will be roped in as well, she said, as there are various ministries - such as the health and education - that deal with family issues, adding that more details would be provided in the future.
The Government previously tried to tackle the difficulties COVID-19 brought onto family planning.
In October, it introduced a one-time COVID-19 baby bonus of S$3,000 to parents of infants born between October 2020 and September 2022, on top of existing payouts worth up to S$10,000 for each child.
The one-time cash gift is to help couples “defray child-raising costs during these extraordinary times”, the NPTD said in a media release then.