A landmark pay equity deal is just one of a number of government policy changes coming into effect tomorrow that deliver for New Zealanders, Prime Minister Bill English says.
Legislation to enable 55,000 healthcare workers to receive pay rises of between 15 and 50 per cent from the $2 billion settlement has been passed.
“Record spending in the health sector will have far-reaching effects and will make real changes to the lives of New Zealanders – including the large number of mostly-female workers who will now earn a fair wage,” Mr English says.
“Funding for the drug-buyer Pharmac will enable wider access to new medicines that will benefit over 33,000 people. Pharmac’s budget for 2017/18 will be a record $870 million – this means the Government has increased Pharmac’s budget by $220 million since 2008.
“DHBs will share an extra $439 million to invest in services, improve access, and to meet cost pressures and population growth. That’s on top of the $12.2 billion baseline funding they already receive.
“We’re also introducing free chickenpox vaccinations for 15 month olds as well as for any child turning 11, who still hasn’t had the vaccine.”
Other changes coming into effect tomorrow include:
- The first of the extra 880 sworn Police staff will start Police College this month, with the first graduates on the beat by October. This follows the announcement of the Government’s $503 million Safer Communities package earlier this year. As well as that, the Eagle Helicopter will now be available around the clock with the response time of 10-15 minutes, as opposed to the pre-scheduled times for 1800 hours a year.
- Extra support for veterans and their families, including increasing lump-sum payments for those suffering a service-related permanent impairment, as well as child care payments for children of a deceased veteran whose death was service-related.
- Motorists will benefit from a 12.5 per cent average reduction in annual ACC Motor Vehicle Account levies. The average levy will reduce from $130.26 to $113.94 per vehicle. The new motor vehicle levy rates apply for the next two years, and will save motorists more than $113 million. These latest reductions follow more than $2 billion of ACC levy cuts made by the National-led Government since 2012.
- New laws requiring earthquake-prone buildings to be upgraded mean those in high risk areas like Wellington have to be assessed within five years and upgraded within 15, while in low risk areas like Auckland the timeframe is 15 and 35 years.
- Regulations allowing frontline Corrections officers to carry pepper spray take effect. The changes mean trained and authorised staff can carry pepper spray on them, giving them an additional tool to respond to potentially dangerous situations.
- The new Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) comes in to effect and includes a free and confidential 24/7 expert advice and help-line, 0800 32 668 65 (EA NOT OK). There’ll be more effective and accessible help and intervention wherever and whenever victims need it.
“For eligible employees and self-employed parents, the maximum weekly rate of Paid Parental Leave will increase from $527.72 to $538.55 gross per week, reflecting a 2.1 per cent rise in average weekly earnings over the past year.
“These changes show how a growing and diversified economy is delivering real benefits to the back pockets of hard working New Zealanders,” Mr English says.