The Helsinki City Council voted nearly unanimously at an extra session on 4 April to present to the Finnish Government a statement, according to which the package of proposals for the regional government, health and social services reform now under consideration in Parliament should not be approved.
By this statement, Helsinki makes a clear declaration about the reform package, now that it is possible for the first time to issue such a statement after the proposal proceeded to Parliament consideration.
In the statement, the City Council assesses the regional government, health and social services reform as a whole. The aspects noted by the City Council include legislative risks, the establishment of regions, the tasks of the regions and economic impacts.
According to Helsinki, the goals of the reform to narrow differences in health and wellbeing, to provide equal access to services and to restrain cost increases will not be achieved. In addition, the City Council considers that the impacts of the reform on the City of Helsinki finances would be significant and create exceptional uncertainty to municipal finances in the future.
According to Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori, “A same-for-all governance model forgets the growing importance of cities and differences between regions.”
“Our current system, in which cities and municipalities have extensive powers and duties, is part of the foundation of our national competitiveness and success. This is also the direction into which the world is moving. The importance of cities grows with urbanization,” Mayor Vapaavuori said in his address to the City Council.
In her address to the City Council, Deputy Mayor for Social Services and Health Care Sanna Vesikansadiscussed the problematic aspects of the reform, especially those related to the adequacy of financing and the fragmentation of services.
“Helsinki has expressed its views of the problems on numerous occasions. The Government has repressed and reversed with frequently changing views, but in particular they have disregarded our main criticism,” Deputy Mayor Vesikansa said.
Mayor Vapaavuori’s address to City Council (in Finnish)
Deputy Mayor Vesikansa’s address to City Council (in Finnish)