The settlement on the reform of social welfare and health care services was a parliamentary decision and therefore inevitably a compromise, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP) reminds.Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP) does not subscribe to the criticism voiced by Carl Haglund (SFP), the Minister of Defence, over the recently hammered out settlement on the reform of social welfare and health care services.

Haglund in an interview with Kauppalehti on Wednesday stated that the settlement “cements” the position of public service providers.

“I disagree in this respect,” Stubb said after a meeting of the Parliament's Grand Committee. “It was a parliamentary decision and therefore a compromise by definition [...]. I believe it creates space for both the public and private sector.”

Both the National Coalition and the Swedish People's Party have insisted that it is vital to offer opportunities to private service providers to compete against municipal and other public service providers in the domain of social welfare and health care.

Haglund on Wednesday argued that the objective has not been met and that the outcome is “a total failure”.

Stubb, in turn, questioned the relevance of the traditional ideological division between private and public. “In my opinion, what's significant is not whether it's public or private but rather whether it's good or bad,” he said.

For the present, the Government has agreed to assign the responsibility for the organisation of social welfare and health care services to five large care districts. A number of major questions, such as how the services will be funded, will not be determined until after the parliamentary elections next spring.

Laura Räty (NCP), the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, is perplexed by the timing of the criticism. “I guess you could say better late than never.”

According to the newly-appointed Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Haglund did not express his concerns when the outlines of the reform were being determined. “The fact that he is now criticising decisions he took part in is peculiar,” she says.

Räty does admit, however, that the criticism by Haglund is warranted because private service providers will remain in a disadvantaged position with respect to the public sector. “In terms of provision, the advantage has been handed to public service providers,” she acknowledges.

The settlement, she nevertheless views, is a step in the direction pursued by the National Coalition. “We are satisfied with the parliamentary compromise. The SFP apparently is not,” says Räty.

Petja Pelli – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Benjamin Suomela / HS