In March 2020 the Committee for the Future commissioned experts in various fields to provide reports on the positive and negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having lived with the pandemic for more than a year, it is now a good time to look at some of the main findings and ideas of the reports.
We can all recognize ourselves in the people living in municipalities around Finland. Next-door neighbour Lasse would like to see a doctor instead of spending more time waiting in a queue. Liisa is waiting for her first day at school and hopes for a nice teacher. Teenager Mikko dreams of having an ice rink in his own village.
There are almost 300 000 citizens in Espoo of whom 50 000 doesn’t speak Finnish or Swedish as native language. The change has been rapid when comparing to my time as a schoolkid. For example, every fourth of my children’s classmates speaks something else than Finnish or Swedish as their native language.
Four years ago, I grabbed to this matter and as a result the city strategy of Espoo mentions the use of English as an “official service language”
Finland has committed to reducing transport emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and altogether by 2045. This is very much needed, since traffic causes about a fifth and private cars alone about 10 percent of Finnish transport emissions.
The serious actions of harassment and violence that have recently taken place in schools have again revived an important discussion on bullying and violence at school. Every child and young person has the right to integrity and a safe learning environment. We all have a role in achieving this, even though it is in particular the responsibility of those working with children to prevent bullying.
Finland needs work-based immigration. There is no question about that. Finland’s population is ageing, the birth rate is low and many sectors suffer from labour shortage. This is an issue of growth and vitality.
The corona pandemic and the associated severe restrictions have had a significant impact on youth mobility. According to a study commissioned by The National Sports Council (Valtion liikuntaneuvosto), the movement of children and young people has decreased significantly, especially on weekdays. The grassroots sports community has also expressed their concern about the effects of the closure of hobby places, with tens of thousands of hobbyists missing from several sports activities.
The crisis which started over a year ago helped us to learn a lot about ourselves but also about our friends and allies. The pandemic took us all by surprise and after the grim photos from northern Italy we all were shocked.
Finland and Finns are becoming more international. English is the general language of science and international interaction. At the end of 2019, almost one in ten (9.1%) of all Finnish children had a foreign background. The proportion of children with a foreign background has grown steadily since the 1980s.
In March, we celebrate both Womens’ Day (March 8) as well as Minna Canth’s Day, which is also the Day of Equality (March 19). These days are important reminders of the work done and how far we’ve come in terms of gender equality – but also of the work ahead of us.
The Finns Party has a questionable reputation as a party that opposes immigration. However, such a perspective is often exaggerated and is an image that outsiders seek to convey about the party. Truth can rarely be reduced to such a one-dimensional view, as is the case here. There are many types of immigration and most forms of it are acceptable to the Finns Party. There are many types of immigration and not all immigration should be bundled together.