TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday approved a proposal of the Ministry of Social Affairs to draft a development plan that would set forth the goals for the fields of social affairs and welfare for the years 2023-2030.
"There must be a possibility for everyone in Estonia to live happily, actively and healthily through their whole life -- from a safe childhood to a dignified old age," Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo said. "The state can do a lot for this, in order for people to be able to be in charge of their lives and take responsibility for their lives. In particular we need to support those who have found themselves or who are at risk of finding themselves in a situation where they need support to study, work and participate in society," the minister said.
According to Riisalo, a decrease in the numbers of working-age people and an increase in the numbers of people needing support from the welfare system requires that we find solutions for how to meet the needs of the economy and the labor market, enable the sustainability of the system of social protection and support a continuous increase in people's wellbeing.
Also, the society's attitudes have to be addressed and the noticing of those in need, readiness to help and tolerance increased.
The welfare strategy will encompass the fields of reducing social inequality and poverty, of gender equality and greater social inclusion, equal treatment of minorities, employment, and long and quality work life. As new topics, the development strategy will address increasing the welfare of children and families, population policy, and reducing of gender based violence.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik said that the development strategy must give answers to the question of how labor market trends are influencing social protection and labor law.
"In Estonia and elsewhere alike, diversification of forms of work is impacting the labor market. Therefore, social protection must be expanded to new forms of working, the labor law must be adapted, thought given to the future of conditions of safety at work, and access to opportunities for improving one's skills improved," Kiik said.
The current welfare development plan expires in 2023 and the new strategy must be ready at least by then. The Ministry of Social Affairs is planning to submit the development strategy to the government for approval in December 2022 at the latest.
Sectoral experts, scientists and universities will be included in the process of the preparation of the strategy. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs will make a proposal to set up a governmental committee on population policy that will be headed by the minister of social protection, the aim of which would be to draft proposals and interventions for resolving the population crisis.
The development strategy to be updated must take into account the the goals set forth in the long-term development strategy Estonia 2035, the UN global sustainable development goals and the directions pursued by the European Union.