Social protection systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago

This report is part of a series of national case studies aimed at disseminating knowledge on the current status of social protection systems in Latin American and Caribbean countries, and at discussing their main challenges in terms of realizing of the economic and social rights of the population and achieving key development goals, such as combating poverty and hunger.

Social protection in the Caribbean has undergone several transformations in recent years. Although social security policies were introduced around the 1940s in many countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), reforms aimed to consolidate a non-contributory pillar for the most vulnerable and poor date only from the past decade. In particular, Trinidad and Tobago has progressively consolidated a model that combines a strong contributory pillar for social protection along with mounting access to social services in health and education, and a series of cash transfer programmes of a non-contributory nature for the most vulnerable families. This expansion is coincident with the framing of the key pillars that the country has identified in order to accomplish its road to development in 2020, called Vision 2020.1
(i) Developing innovative people, expanding access and strengthening science, research and 
innovation, fostering a high quality education system and training and skills 
development, and protecting cultural heritage. 
(ii) Nurturing a caring society where poverty, discrimination, marginalization and sub standard living conditions have been eradicated. This pillar comprises actions to strengthen communities and families, programmes aimed to reduce poverty and expanding the access to housing and healthcare (including HIV/AIDS treatment and preventive measures), as well as the promotion of healthy lifestyles. 
(iii) Enabling competitive business, encouraging a stable macro-economic environment and an appropriate business climate. 
(iv) Investing in sound infrastructure and environment, including information and communication technologies, and furthering a culture of sustainable development. 
(v) Promoting effective government through the implementation of good governance and State modernization reforms. 
This document analyzes the steps that Trinidad and Tobago has taken in the areas of social development to secure these aims, identifying the progress and challenges that the social protection and promotion system confronts in the country.

The next section reviews the main economic indicators that set the framework for social investment and development in Trinidad and Tobago. Sections 3, 4 and 5 depict the main components and instruments of the social protection system, including its contributory and non-contributory pillars and the measures implemented towards protecting workers. Sections 6 and 7 indicate how education and health services are structured as part of the policies of social promotion. Finally, section 8 provides some final remarks on the social protection and promotion system in the country.