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Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left Alliance) underscored in a press conference that the reform must put an end to large-scale outsourcings. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Tuesday unveiled the amendments made to its draft bill on the long-awaited social, health care and regional government reform based on statements received from stakeholders between June and September.

The draft bill will today be submitted for review to the Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis.

The over 800 statements, which drew attention to several flaws in the bill, were discussed by the relevant cabinet members during the course of last week, with a political agreement found late on Friday, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The statements focused particularly on issues such as the funding of municipalities, the proposed 21 well-being services regions and rescue services; the tax rights, autonomy and guidance of the well-being services regions; the responsibility for organising social and health care services and promoting health and well-being; and the timetable for implementation, the government listed in a press release.

Funding-related concerns were prevalent especially in the capital region and other urban population centres due to, for example, the projected loss of tax revenue to the well-being services regions and its impact on their ability to provide social and health care services for residents.

The regions are set to start levying taxes in 2026. The change, however, will have no impact on the overall tax rate.

The government estimated that establishing the self-governing regions will allow a gradual transition to counties with a wide range of duties, the scope of which is to be determined by a parliamentary committee by the end of 2020.

Minister of Climate and the Environment Krista Mikkonen (Greens) stated in a press conference that she is glad that the reform process is yet again moving forward.

“It’s important that we succeed in pushing this over the finish line this time,” she said, drawing attention to the need to tackle widening health inequalities, promoting equal access to care and mitigating the increase in social and health care costs.

Minister of Culture and Education Li Andersson (Left Alliance) reminded that the government cannot afford not to carry out the reform, as it is needed as urgently as ever before. The government, she added, should learn from past mistakes and pay closer attention to observations made by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee.

It is equally important that all the ruling parties are committed to granting tax rights to the well-being services regions and making sure the reform puts an end to large-scale outsourcings, according to Andersson.

“Decisions about care and official duties that affect public powers and people’s basic rights must no longer be handed down to market-based operators,” she underscored.

The government, she also assured, is not planning on making it impossible to supplement public services with private ones.

“The way I personally see it is that the regions must have enough of their own public service production so that the responsibility for organising the services can be fulfilled in varying circumstances,” she outlined in response to a question from Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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