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Helsinki’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) and Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki (Greens) attended a joint meeting of the municipal councils of Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa at Cultural House Martinus in Vantaa on 15 May, 2018.
Helsinki’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) and Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki (Greens) attended a joint meeting of the municipal councils of Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa at Cultural House Martinus in Vantaa on 15 May, 2018.

 

The councillors of four municipalities in the capital region convened yesterday to discuss the social, health care and regional government reform devised by the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).

Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Mayor of Helsinki, gauged ahead of the meeting that the question at hand will be the most momentous of the councillors' careers .

“It’s still not too late to right the course of Finland,” he tweeted ahead of the meeting held at Cultural House Martinus in Vantaa on Tuesday, 15 May.

The social, health care and regional government reform came – as expected – under a barrage of criticism from the councillors of Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa. Björn Månsson (SFP), a member of both the Helsinki City Council and the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, branded the regional government reform as “outright useless”.

“The counties under preparation would not become democratically governed intermediary administrations as they would be reliant completely on state funding. A uniform county system also is simply not applicable to all regions, the populations of which vary from roughly 70,000 to 1.7 million in Uusimaa,” he argued.

His party comrades also reiterated the concern that the reform fails to take into consideration the special characteristics of the capital region: urbanisation as a global mega-trend and substantial net migration gains.

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Antti Lindtman (SDP), the chairperson of the Vantaa City Council, reminded that the capital region is home to nearly a quarter of the population of Finland.

“The time for the capital region to issue a joint statement is now or never. Half of our revenues would vanish, while our costs would stay the same. There’s a need for concern, a need to raise our voice,” he stressed.

Lindtman similarly drew attention to the unprecedented nature of the situation, saying this is the first time the government is pushing through such a massive reform without lending an ear to the residents and decision makers of Greater Helsinki.

“The City of Vantaa has issued roughly 20 statements on different sections of the social, health care and regional government reform. We’ve called attention to flaws in the reform after thorough and serious consideration,” he told.

“It turns out that every single flaw we’ve identified is about to come true – and in a worse way than any of us dared to think. The primus motor of Finnish competitiveness and undisputed driver of the economy mustn’t stand idly by in the face of the government’s bull-headedness,” stated Lindtman.

One of the local policy makers to defend the massive reform was Pekka Puska (Centre), a councillor for the City of Vantaa.

“The discussions are based on impressions. Uusimaa is in need of a social and health care reform just as much as the rest of Finland,” he argued.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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