Left Al­liance Mu­nici­pal Elec­tion Pro­gram 2021

FOR OUR CHILDREN!

Equality and well-being through education and learning at all ages

Every child has the right to receive first-rate fulltime early childhood education. Studies show that good early childhood education is particularly beneficial for children from less-well-off backgrounds, children with learning issues, and children with some other native language than Swedish or Finnish. Early childhood education is always an entity consisting of upraising, teaching and nurture, with a focus on pedagogy.

A. Ensuring sufficient early childhood education placements and developing child health centres

The subjective right to early childhood education in Finland requires municipalities to provide enough placements for all the children in the municipality. The sufficiency of early childhood education placements and language nests should be guaranteed by ensuring that enough day care units are built throughout the municipality. The need for nonstandard hour childcare has been increasing, and thus municipalities must pay special attention to ensuring that all families needing such care receive it, even for the youngest children. All this should happen in co-operation with the child health centres to ensure that all families stay informed of what early childhood pedagogic services their municipality offers.

b. Answering the insufficiency of workforce by improving working conditions

Early childhood education professionals ensure the welfare of our smallest ones for little pay. The sector’s continuing insufficiency of workers can be solved by improving the workers’ wellbeing, reducing group sizes, and with local pay raises. Early childhood education should not be privatized for the benefit of profit-seeking operators, as the growth of private early childhood education will lead to increasing differences in the quality of services, the preselection of children, and ever-decreasing pay levels for the mostly female staff.

C. Improving support for learning

The support that children need for learning needs to be received at the correct time. This might mean making group sizes smaller, getting an assistant to offer fast aid or, for instance, support from a special early childhood education teacher or Finnish-as-a-second-language teacher, as the individual needs of the child require. Sufficient staff resources must be allocated to ensure all of this, including sufficient resources for functional therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy and psychologists and school social workers in the municipalities, so that the rights of the children are ensured. Gender and cultural sensitivity need particular attention, and sufficient resources must be directed to supporting children with chronic diseases and disabilities, as well as their parents.

Early childhood education is an important part of supporting the language learning of the children. Everyday care unit must ensure they read to children daily and get them acquainted with various poems and songs, whenever possible in the native language of the children. Day care units must also, as well as possible, contain books written in the native languages of the children.

Elementary schooling is the most important act for equality ever done in Finland. Every child and young person has the right to study in a safe learning environment and thus obtain the necessary data and skills for building their own futures. Though school bullying has been reduced in Finland during the last few years, far too many students are still victims of discrimination, bullying or even violence.

A. Sufficiently small student groups at all levels, fixing the resources for special education

Municipalities must ensure that class sizes stay reasonable and that there are sufficient teacher resources throughout the entire school. The teacher’s welfare and strength must be supported amid all the distance learning schemes, hurries, interruptions, and other pressures. The best way to ensure a good working environment that takes all the needs of the children into account is maintaining sufficient staff levels. It is particularly important to ensure that the three-stage system of learning is in use. Students who need special or intensified support might be taught in small groups, in special education or in the general classes. The preconditions for succeeding in this are sufficient staff resources, such as special education teachers and assistants, and multi-professional cooperation in constant communication with the families. All children must have the opportunity study their native languages, receive the necessary support in their studies, and disabled children and youth must be able to go to a local school.

b. Ending school bullying and strengthening our diversity expertise

Municipalities and schools are legally required to secure a safe environment for all children. Work to end bullying and violence in schools and study institutions needs to take place every day. All the students and the staff of the school must know the school’s anti-bullying plan and what to do in bullying situations happens. In difficult cases, the school must cooperate with the social welfare workers, the police, and the youth workers. Studies show that students belonging to minorities face bullying more often than other students. Thus, it is important for the school’s operating culture to strengthen the expertise of the staff on issues of equality, including through supplementary training.

C. Ensuring the right to a healthy study and work environment for all

In too many municipalities, children and their teachers and other staff must work in buildings with interior air quality issues. Municipalities must thus attempt to ensure the actualization of every person’s right to a healthy study and work environment in real life. Special attention must be paid to the implementation of the budgeting, scheduling, and monitoring of the construction projects. Instead of renting expensive containers, municipalities should get permanent temporary relocation spaces for cases when they are needed. Schools should hire their own caretakers, as the best way to take care of the estates is taking care of people who know the buildings intimately and care for them and maintain them daily.

Finland can still boast the smallest learning differences between schools in the world. Each family can trust their own local school to be one of the best in the world. The greatest challenge to Finnish education is the growth of learning differences between students, as the effect of children’s background to their learning results continues to increase and the differences between the genders in learning are among the greatest in OECD. Educational equality needs strengthening everywhere, and truly free education is an important part of this principle becoming reality.

A. Strengthening the principle of local day cares and schools

Schools being near the students is an important starting point for educational equality. This principle of locality means working to ensure that students get to the day care and school in their own city block or village. If residential segregation has progressed too much, the principle of neighbourhood schools can, for instance, lead to a situation where schools have only a few students speaking Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. Many big cities have received good results in such cases by, for instance, set the student admission areas so that they contain three different schools.

Specialized classes have been demonstrated to increase inequality, as the children of educated parents end up in classes with a language or math specialization classes more often than other children. The total amount of such classes must be kept reasonable, and they must be offered equally in different schools in different parts of a municipality. It is also possible to organize specialized learning so that it does not increase class inequalities in the students’ schools.

b. Increasing equality with positive discrimination subsidies

Positive discrimination subsidies are directed to day cares and schools in areas with high unemployment, a high number of students with a foreign first language and low levels of education. These subsidies may be used to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes or ensure the sufficiency of specialized teachers or Finnish-as-a-second-language teachers. The studies of VATT Institute of Economic Research have found these subsidies to have a considerable effect in advancing equality. These subsidies can be distributed by the central government, municipalities, too, might distribute some of their teaching resources using the principles of the PD subsidies.

C. Strengthening the role of the youth work, student care and social and health experts, and the participation of the children and youth

Finnish teachers are highly trained pedagogic and educational experts. The increasing inequalities of the Finnish society and how they reflect on the kids means, however, that schools need something other than pedagogy to help the kids and the youth. The work done in schools by professional school assistants and student care assistants, such as school psychologists and school social workers, is invaluable. It is important for the entire multi-professional staff to be trained in gender and cultural sensitivity issues. Multi-professional support should be offered as early as possible and as close to the youth as possible, in cooperation with other social and health care experts and youth work experts. The participation of the children and youth in the process of making the decisions affecting themselves must be strengthened.

The increasing specific experience requirements in working life make secondary school studies a modern necessity for all youth. The government’s plan to expand mandatory education ages are intended to help the youth in graduating from second-level studies, which requires putting a consistent effort to increase quality of education and the welfare and support of secondary school students.

A. Ensuring sufficient service supplies for student care

One of the greatest problems for second-level studies is the student stress and the workload. In the academic track, this leads growing stress, and in the vocational track, the lack of support and the general malaise are evident in how many students drop their studies entirely. The well-being of the youth requires sufficient student care resources and for the youth to be able to receive mental health and substance abuser services specially intended for them.

b. Increasing contact studies

Sufficient contact studies are a requirement for maintaining educational quality. However, in the academic track, group sizes are often too large, with as many as 40 students per a class. On the vocational track, the problem is an insufficiency of contact classes. The municipalities must ensure that they are able to offer all youth sufficient contact education at the secondary school level.

Municipalities must set their own separate quality criteria for both secondary academic and vocational studies. The municipalities must advance cooperation between high schools and vocational institutions by, for instance, offering students a possibility to perform classes on some other secondary education institution.

C. Offering special support for students who need it

Together with the compulsory education reform, we must ensure that students who have terminated their secondary studies are also offered a chance to obtain a secondary degree, and give them the necessary specific, sufficiently resourced, and multi-professional support for this.

As preparatory courses grow more common, their availability and quality must be secured in all parts of the country. Access to preparatory courses must be granted for everyone who wants them. Training must be provided in close cooperation with academic and vocational secondary schools, and special needs students must also be taken to account.

Each young person must be guaranteed a placement at a correct time, according to their current life situation and strengths. The number of professional study advisors and special needs assistants must be increased to meet the needs of the students.

FAIR TRANSITION!

Make municipalities a part of the solution to climate change

Traffic causes a fifth of Finnish climate emissions, and the share of car traffic is over a half of this. Finland is committed to halving traffic-related emissions by 2030. As people have different transit needs in cities and sparsely inhabited areas, different areas of Finland need different solutions, but it is still necessary to advance low-emission transit in both densely populated cities and urban areas and in sparsely inhabited areas of the countryside. In all parts of Finland, the solutions must both decrease emissions and improve peoples’ everyday lives. Decently prized, low-emission well-functioning accessible mass transit is a reasonable choice both from the point of view of human needs, the economy, and the ecology. Walkways, cycle paths and driveways need to be maintained well to prevent accidents.

A. Finding well-functioning, accessible and reasonably prized mass transit solutions

Mass transit solutions play key role in reducing traffic emissions and improving the livelihoods of the people living in various municipalities. In densely inhabited urban areas, mass transit must enable car-free lifestyles. In sparsely inhabited areas, it must enable at least daily transit. Municipalities might experiment, for instance, with call traffic between villages or with car sharing. The ticket prices for mass transit must make it a less expensive an option than owning a car, an alternative for all, no matter the income level, age, health situation or disability. The goal is sufficiently cheap mass transit everywhere in Finland. In urban areas, transit from suburbs can improved, for instance, by making park-and-ride a better option. The service users must always be taken into attention in the planning for stops and routes, and the accessibility of mass transit must be developed.

b. Improving cycling and walking in villages and towns

The methods for improving walking and cycling differ in the countryside and the city, but it is possible to develop the walkways and the bicycle roads methodically everywhere, which also helps in promoting outdoors athletics.

All municipalities need a program for promoting walking and cycling. When zoning new areas, walking and cycling are a primary form of transit to consider, and in the city centres, walking zones need adding and expanding and cycling paths for rapid cycling constructing. Cycling in winter can be promoted by developing better methods for maintaining cycling paths and prioritizing the ploughing of the light transit paths. The health of children and youth is advanced by ensuring the ability to use bicycles to get to elementary schooling, should the length of the school trip allow it. One way to increase cycling is implementing enough bike sharing systems in large municipalities.

C. Advancing gas-based and electric cars and the joint use of cars and bicycles

Making the necessary use of car transit mostly electric and gas-based plays an important part in reducing emissions. The municipalities should create plans for extending the currently disparate and deficient charging and refuelling network, using competitive tendering to select the contractors. A coherent and extensive charging network can help make these forms of transit can become increasingly common. Increasing the use of biogas also creates new opportunities for business for agricultural producers in the various parts of Finland, as well as others. The use of biogas and electricity should also be an option in more sparsely inhabited areas. Biofuels may operate as a transitional solution towards long-term targets, such as electrified traffic, biogas, and synthetic fuels. Car sharing should be supported through parking planning and by installing charging points. Municipally owned vehicles should be available for car sharing when they are not in official use.

Energy-efficient construction and the reduction of emissions in constructed environments have an important function in moving Finland towards carbon neutrality. 40% of domestic energy production is already utilized by the construction sector, which causes over 30% of emissions. The share of construction in the lifecycle emissions of the building is also considerable. The lifecycle emissions of the existing buildings must be reduced by making the heating solutions more sustainable and through investments in energy efficiency. Of particular importance is focusing on sustainable energy choices and the general reduction of the use of energy. Emissions from construction must be minimized by repairing existing buildings instead of demolition them and by recycling construction materials.

A. Favouring existing buildings and recycling the construction waste

The share of construction is over 20% of the lifecycle emissions of greenhouse gases. Favouring old construction instead of demolition and new construction is a way to reduce emissions from construction of built environment. When construction projects near the end of their lifecycle, the main alternative should be estimating whether the lifecycle must be extended. If demolition nevertheless becomes necessary, the demolition permit of the building must be conditional on whether there are opportunities for recycling. The demolition of unused rental apartments shall be made easier, and it should be possible to grant ARA guarantees to loans taken by condominiums for conducting renovations.

b. Energy efficiency campaigns in public spaces and solar panels on the roof

Constructed environment emissions are mainly created in their use. Investments in energy efficiency can reduce emissions considerably without affecting the quality of interior air. We should strive to make public buildings a trendsetter in energy efficiency, reducing emissions, for instance, with capturing of the waste heat, the construction of solar energy, more durable heating solutions such as geothermal energy, through heat storage, and other similar solutions. One option would be installing solar panels on the walls and the roofs of the building.

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, the costs of housing have been the most increased segment of costs of living for average-income households in the OECD countries. High housing costs particularly affect those getting by with small incomes and those living on rent. Additionally, it increases housing inequality, as long hours for travel reduce the qualities of lives for those living in more remote locations. Sometimes high housing costs are even subsidized from the municipal purse. The planning for land-use and construction must, as a standard option, minimize greenhouse gases and secure carbon sinks by, among other things, ensuring that green areas and trees are accounted for in zoning and by utilizing wood-based construction. Municipalities should make plans for carbon neutrality a reality by 2030. Construction projects should avoid dense construction and rather construct higher buildings with greater distances between each other, leaving room for the trees in the yard. The aging of the population means paying special attention to accessibility.

A. Constructing right-sized apartments for all

At least 40 percent of new production in areas with high housing costs should be ARA funded. If ARA-funded production is not sufficient in increasing the amount of reasonably priced housing, municipalities should produce the apartments themselves. Putting a stop to segregation means also zoning ARA housing in high-income areas. Especially in growing municipalities, the primary method for conveyance of plots should renting. In areas with growing plot areas, the municipality should, by definition, hold the plots in its ownership, including by purchasing plots. One way to lower the costs of housing is changing parking construction regulations to enable car-free living, as each inhabitant currently pays the costs of parking lots in their housing costs.

b. Favouring wood construction and green construction

Constructing from wood is climate-sustainable and healthy. While the production chains for concrete and steel create considerable emissions, wood construction will bind carbon and improve interior air quality. To favour the use of wood-based construction in zoning, the public sector should operate as a trendsetter. The use of the green factor tool, such as green roofs, should also be advanced in zoning. Green zoning, such as forested yards, is particularly suitable for buildings for early childhood education.

The use of carbon and peat is the worst possible solution for generating electricity and ending their use for energy as fast as possible plays an important role in achieving a carbon neutral Finland. During the transition period, they can be replaced with a limited amount of biomass-based power generation on the way to moving on to non-burning-based solutions, but there should not be new investments in biomass boilers, and only a low amount of investments into existing boilers to increase the share of burned biomass should be permitted.

A. Advancing non-burning-based solutions instead of carbon and peat

In municipal energy companies, the use of carbon and peat must be ended by year 2025, and energy generation replaced primarily with non-burning-based solutions. The utilization of wasted heat and heat pumps, the heat storages and the utilization of geothermic heat all create new possibilities to generate heat.

b. Sustainability criteria for biomass

Biomass is a transition period fuel towards non-burning-based solutions and should only be used to replace fossil fuels. The sustainability criteria set by the EU biomass directive are a good start, but this does not yet guarantee the sustainability of the used biomass. The municipal energy companies must set specific sustainability criteria for biomass and then commit to monitoring them. The laws regulating zoning for wind power and the interpretation of the existing plans should be changed to support the construction of modern wind plants and the combination of wind power with the local economies. The estate tax for building sea-based wind power should be lowered to match land-based wind power when this is permitted by the law.

C. Increasing storage capabilities

Using solar energy particularly requires increased energy storage capabilities. The seasonal overproduction of energy can be stored when energy companies by utilize underground hot-water heaters, for example. Public buildings can likewise construct sufficient heat storage means for the needs of the estate.

Flourishing local nature improves the quality of housing and works as a carbon sink. Forests and other local natural zones are popular refreshment locations and increase natural diversity. Around Finland, travelling may employ as many as 140 000 persons, 30 percent of them young. In the post-pandemic world, local and natural tourism will probably increase, which is also a key factor in finding a socially just way to end climate change.

A. Preserving more natural zones

The preservation of land zones and forests is one of the most important ways to work for natural diversity. The amount of municipally protected forest areas should be increased methodically in accordance with the natural protection networks and nature studies. The sufficient maintenance of natural protection areas and renovation of natural protection targets is important. Nature must also be taken account in all zoning decisions, including finding sufficient ecological pathways for the safe movement of animals from one place to another.

B. Bolstering the operating conditions for local tourism and nature tourism

Local tourism and nature tourism play an important stimulating role in the post-pandemic era. The money used for promoting municipal tourism should focus on nature tourism. Municipalities have an important role in enabling the cooperation of companies of the natural field and, on the other hand, providing travel entities for potential tourists.

C. Improving animal welfare

The most important step we can take to protect animal rights is increasing the procurement of vegetable-based products in food services to at least 50 percent of procurement.

All municipalities should have an on-call supervisory veterinarian and a cooperative organ for animal protection that includes representatives from animal protection NGOs, the police, and the local animal protection unit. Likewise, in cooperation with the police, a separate animal protection police officer should be named for each municipality. Municipalities also bear the responsibility for the catching of the encountered association-owned hobby-based animals, as well as the related costs. Additionally, the quality of care for found animals must be improved. The travelling fish stocks should be protected by restoring fords and building fish routes when constructing hydro plants, and the hydro plants with the lowest capacities can even be disassembled for creating fish routes and restoring nature.

SUPPORT, CARE AND HEALTH FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW!

The right to health and well-being belongs to everyone

 

The greatest problems of the Finnish social and health care system are slow access to aid and support and high customer fees. These have increased the health differences between the poorest and the richest people, even though everybody should have the right to trust in the availability of expert help and support when they need it. Currently, this does not happen, as the poor people who utilize public services are the least likely to get timely doctor’s appointment. Spending more on pre-emptive health, reducing social problems and guaranteeing early aid is the best path to progress, both from humane and economical point of view. In the Sámi region, the provision of social services in accordance with the Sámi language law must be guaranteed.

A. It must be possible to reach the doctor within a week and for free

Everybody in Finland should be able to see a health centre doctor or any other professional they need in a week, without costs. Health centre customer fees must be removed, and dentists’ fees lowered. The municipalities should co-operate with the state to implement a guarantee for receiving service in a week. When people start trusting the public sector to offer timely help, the need for private health insurance is reduced and equality in health care thus advanced. The waiting times for public dental care must also be reduced. Timely treatment should also be available for undocumented immigrants.

The provision of open reception for specialists must be expanded so that people can receive, for instance, the necessary gynaecologic, ophthalmologic, neurologic, geriatric, and orthopaedic exams without the need to utilize expensive private health care. In health care districts, resources need to be utilized for medically based research and treatments in an effective way that provides good quality.

b. Lowering customer fees and freezing their collection

The total annual amount of social and health care customer payments is 1,4 billion euros. Despite payment ceilings, customer payments are particularly onerous on people with small incomes who need lots of services, which is why annually over 400 000 social and health care customer payments are sent to collection. Many municipalities use a private collection business for these collections. Municipalities and health care districts must lower customer fees and apply the legislative option to not collect unreasonable fees by taking the customer’s financial situation into account. The use of private collection companies must be ended.

C. Free contraception for the youth

The municipality must offer all youth under 25 suitable free contraception in a variety of forms. The municipalities that provide free contraception have results to show for it: STDs and abortions have been reduced and municipalities have seen budget savings. Providing free contraception is also an act for equality, as it offers all youth, no matter the background or wealth, a chance to take care of their sexual health while enjoying their lives.

Everyone must get aid as easily as possible, whenever they want it and need it. The social and health care services must be offered with the “single window” principle in mind. Low-threshold preventive services are particularly important here. The chance to be a face-to-face customer must be preserved, in addition to the use of online services. A well-functioning client and case management are particularly helpful for those needing a lot of aid. The social and health care sector needs to be sufficiently resourced and have a good employer policy, and services offered in a way that promotes gender and culture sensitivity.

A. Therapy guarantee in use in municipalities

Mental health issues affect most Finns in one way or another and are an important reason for long health-related work absences preliminary retirement. For this reason and others, more low-threshold mental health services are acutely needed. The mental health services for children, youth, and those not in employment are particularly deficient. Municipalities must, together with the state, implement a therapy guarantee for accessing psychotherapy care and other psychosocial care at least within a month from need of care being noted.

b. Improving treatment for the elderly in their homes and in assisted living buildings

Mistreatment in the field of elderly care is a serious human rights issue and a shame of the Finnish welfare state, as everyone must be able to trust that they will receive good care when their own strength is no longer sufficient. Municipalities must implement the new nursing standard, simultaneously improving the quality and the availability of home-based care by adding workers and putting resources to improving well-being at work. Domestic services must be developed, and the domestic visits by doctors, home-based rehabilitation and stimulating functions must be a part of the service selection. Employees need channels to report any problems they see. Municipalities must develop intermediary communal living solutions as one alternative to living at home or living in an assisted living building.

C.  Increasing resources to services for substance abusers

The substance abuser policies of the municipalities must reduce human suffering and social problems, as everybody has a right to decent treatment and humane living. Substance abusers have repeatedly noted that they experience discrimination in public services. This stigmatization stops them from applying for treatment and prevents the actualization of their basic rights. Stigmatization must be actively reduced by, among other things, training workers of the social and health field in working with substance abusers.

Sufficient resourcing is needed for services to substance abusers and proactive substance abuser work targeting the entire population, and municipalities need plans for combatting substance abuse. Services for substance abusers must be easily available and their reception as simple and straightforward as possible. Relatives of the substance abusers also need support and help. Children’s rights must be a particular focus when planning for services for substance abusers, including extra effort to bolster family services and host care. Municipal substance abuser services include programs for treating addictive gambling and aid for helping people with gambling problems to get treatment when needed.

d. Bringing freedom and support for caregivers

There are estimated to be 350 000 people operating as caregivers for loved ones in Finland in 2018. Approximately 50 000 caregivers have signed an agreement with the municipality. These are most commonly women, over 65 years, taking care of a loved one who has memory problems. Municipality must work to provide services for supporting caregivers and family care. Caregivers can be supported in providing leisure by guaranteeing varied arrangements of a good quality for external care, such as in the house of the cared person. The support for caregiving must be based on the needs of the caretakers, not municipal budgets.

e. Making the strengthening of self-determination the basis of policy for disabled

The services for the disabled must be developed from a customer-centric point of view, guaranteeing people of different ages and different needs the services they require. Disabled persons must be able to participate in making the decisions that affect themselves. The transport services and the guaranteeing of the sufficiency of personal aid is an important way to strengthen the self-determination of the disabled and their opportunities to decide, for instance, on their own leisure hours. Disabled persons that are prone to facing multiple forms of discrimination particularly need special attention to guarantee their rights. An opportunity for wage labour must be organized for everyone able and willing to work by cooperating with the businesses and by utilizing wage subsidies. Disabled people must receive wages for their work.

Disabled people must be enabled to decide for themselves where, how and with whom they live. Moving them forcibly between houses must be banned. Disabled people and their kin collectively need clear information on the existing services meant for them and how and where to obtain them. Municipalities must have separate professionals to advice disabled people and their families. Simplified language must be used whenever necessary. Municipalities also should offer peer-to-peer support, with a possibility of contacting trained experts by experience via municipality.

f. Accessible municipalities

Accessibility and equal availability should be noted in everything a municipality does. This does not only mean elevators and ramps, but it also means, for example, induction loops, interpreting, freedom from fragrances, and simplified language. Public spaces, including educational institutions, also need accessibility, and this accessibility must be well-communicated. The disabled must be able to participate in the events organized by study institutions, municipalities, regions, organisations, and political parties. Work is also needed to change attitudes and prejudices on this issue. The municipal special councils for disabled people and the elderly must be given actual influence. All effects on how this promotes equality within municipality must be evaluated.

g. More places for those seeking security

Municipalities must offer quota-based refugees and those granted the right of asylum municipal placements to allow them to move on from a refugee camp or a reception centre to pro-integration services. Quota-based refugees particularly need more placements.

Municipalities must ensure that new inhabitants of Finland will be able to start living their everyday lives as easily as possible, away from the uncertain conditions of the reception centres. The goal is to confirm municipal placements as quickly as possible for children and families arriving to the country without a caretaker.

h. Housing is a human right

Finland strives to end homelessness entirely within two parliamentary periods, i.e., at the latest by the end of 2027, as everybody needs a home. This means utilizing the “housing first” principle. Homelessness can increase stress and the use of substances, making it harder to maintain control over one’s own life and find work and places of study. Ways for municipalities to combat homelessness include improving the availability of housing counselling and utilizing the forward rental model for housing. Knowledge and understanding of homelessness must be increased within municipal services. Low-threshold, mobile social and health services must be developed to improve the situation for homeless people in need of strong support.

Helping children and youth in the need of support means supporting families as whole entities. With family services, the availability and the correct timing of the services is the most important factor in ensuring the problems cannot develop to become overtly serious.

A. Offering home care for all in need

Home care for families with children is provided according to the Social Welfare Act to support the everyday lives of the families. The care services might include, for instance, concrete help on housework, care and support for children, or help for everyday actions. Municipalities must ensure that information on home care is easily available to all families in their own native languages.

b. Ensuring that the personnel standards for child protective services are met

Everybody is entitled to a secure childhood and youth. Human suffering and costs can be lessened with well-functioning preventive child welfare services, provided in a timely manner with sufficient resources. Within child protection, the participation of children and youth must be increased both related to their own lives and in the planning of the services. The constant change of the social welfare employees must be prevented by improving working conditions, and one social worker should not have too many children and families as clients, as this endangers the rights of the children.

The host-based care in children’s protective services must help the host families operate as families with sufficient support and education. Quality of care in child protection facilities must be ensured utilizing sufficient personnel. Children and youth must also be heard regularly during their placement. The child protection facility services must be primarily produced by the municipalities as their own service. The quality of the child protective services must be monitored regularly. Parents with children placed outside of home must also be offered support.

C. Providing support, spaces, and communities for youth work

Youth work is an enormously meaningful factor in supporting the welfare and the community spirit of the youth. Through youth work, municipalities can increase the chances of youth to affect their own matters, develop the youth leisure services and possibilities for hobbies, and offer help for all the youth that need it. Youth spaces need to be places for recreation and hanging around, with a low threshold of participation and ways to make the youth feel at place. Increasingly, youth work needs to take place through online platforms and the social media, finding the youth where they are. Availability of preventive youth work needs to be guaranteed with sufficient resources.

d. Ensuring zero tolerance for domestic violence

Though nobody deserves to be a victim of violence in their own homes, domestic violence continues to be a major problem in Finland. Municipalities are responsible both for preventive work against domestic violence and for the organization of services for victims of violence, the violent offenders and other persons exposed to violence. Municipal employees must be trained to notice the situations early enough and direct the victims to the correct services as fast as possible. Even though domestic violence affects all genders, there are forms of violence and threats faced by women and gender minorities. The gendered nature of violence must be noted when planning for services in municipalities, both for victims and offenders.

Citizens must be able to democratically make decisions on the production of public welfare services. This reduces the need for monitoring and the related bureaucracy. Above all, public production of services ensures that tax money goes on to be spent on the production of services, not to the profits of multinational corporate groups or into tax havens. Large-scale outsourcing sometimes reaches the level of 100% in, for instance, elderly care, services for disabled, mental health services and child protective placements. This endangers the ability of the municipalities to offer legally mandated services for inhabitants, should private social and health care companies face a crisis or start hiking prices due to their monopoly status. Thus, it is necessary to start bringing extensively outsourced services back to municipal ownership.

A. Putting an end to the tax haven economy and failed privatization

Sometimes municipalities might need to supplement their own service provision with, for instance, services produced by organization or private companies. Many NGOs have the kind of expertise in the specialized group services that municipalities simply do not have. Extensive outsourcing and incorporation of municipal services are often used to cut costs by cutting the wages and lowering the working conditions of the personnel. Outsourcing contracts nevertheless create extra costs as well due to municipalities having to monitor the quality and the actualization of the agreements, as far too often private companies merely seek profits at the cost of quality.

b. Improving municipal supervising for both their own service production and outsourced production

The many scandals in the field elderly and disabled care, as well as serious rights offenses in child protection, have revealed the need to develop and strengthen the monitoring of services produced both by private and public operators. The municipality is responsible for monitoring the services they have purchased and continue producing. Sufficient, specific personnel resources are needed to ensure quality. The results of monitoring must be reported regularly, both to authorities and to shop stewards.

C. Considerable damages to outsourcing agreements

If some municipality decides to outsource services instead of producing them, the service purchase contracts must include a statement on the damages paid to the customers and the municipality if the service producer should neglect their duties, such as if they cannot guarantee humane treatment or take care of their customers’ basic needs.

LONG-LASTING LIFEPOWER!

Municipalities as places of employment and as employers

 

Municipalities employ over 400 000 persons, mostly women, and make approximately 20 billion euros worth of purchases annually. Thus, they have a special responsibility to be exemplary employers and procurers. Wage equality and management of work-related stress are not the opposites of effective work, but rather its preconditions and important in themselves. Targeted wage raises should particularly be considered in sectors with acute deficiencies in the number of employees.

A. Putting an end to forcible leaves that do not lead to savings

Due to, among other things, the pandemic, municipalities have seen record amounts of employees being put on a leave. At worst, these leaves cause a welfare gap in the municipalities, as important services suffer. Any savings from the leaves are only short-term, and expenses are only transferred from one pocket to another. Municipal leaves have a particularly negative effect on women’s financial situation.

b. The participation of workers in both the organizing of the work and the boards of municipal enterprises must be strengthened

Municipal employees are experts in their own work, and their role in organizing the work is essential. This can be actualized through various models at self-governance. Municipal companies must supervise the personnel’s rights to representation in companies actively, and representation at the board level must be implemented in companies employing at least 25 people. Wage surveys should be used for systematically advancing wage equality and transparency. Separate equality plans must be implemented as a part of goal-based equality planning. Anonymous recruiting must be utilized in the municipalities.

C. Making municipalities the trendsetters in work wellbeing

Advancing wellbeing at work is the duty of the employers, as workers also work better when they fare well. Studies have demonstrated the role wellbeing at work has on reducing sick leave days, and wellbeing-related spending has led to considerable improvements at many municipalities. Various municipal sectors should initiate experiments on shortening worktime.

Municipalities must become family-friendly – enabling both working life and family life, in shifts or in offices. All municipal work location needs safer space principles and persons responsible for work protection need antiharassment training. The municipalities need to offer their workers mental health services to support their work, such as short-term therapy, as a part of employer-provided health care.

d. Noting environmental, social, and work-based issues in procurement law in addition to the price

The enormous total sum spent on municipal procurements requires special attention for procurement conditions. The procuring parties are responsible for not utilizing operators dodge taxes or otherwise behave in unethical ways. Procurement law already enables using priorities besides mere price level, and thus at least an equally great importance in procurement must be placed on the environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and the actual working conditions, so that procured services are at least of a comparable quality to municipality-produced services. The ratio of plant-based products used in the procurement of food services shall be raised to at least 50 percent.

e. Avoiding incorporation and outsourcing

Municipalities have increasingly outsourced their operations to publicly traded corporations and municipal enterprises. Auxiliary services have been particularly prone to incorporation, leading to wages cuts in this mostly female field. The expected savings of incorporation and outsourcing are often not realized, and costs might even grow. Responsible municipalities trust to their own efficient service production instead of advancing incorporation and outsourcing.

The municipalities play an important role both as employers and in advancing the local job markets. At best, what the municipality does not only increases employment in general but also helps in employing traditionally hard-to-employ groups. Well-functioning municipalities are a motor for regional growth.

A. Social enterprise provides work opportunities for more people

Social enterprises, meaning enterprises that use over half of their profits in developing their goals and ideas, have become increasingly important in Finland during recent years. As the intent of the operations may be more varied than mere profit, this offers a chance for employing increasingly wider selections of people. Municipalities must support social enterprise by offering advice and, insofar as there are particularly promising projects, provide initial-phase funding or other support.

b. Acknowledging the rights of the unemployed, disabled and those with partial working capabilities in the use of recuperative work

In the last decade, the market for unpaid work has exploded in Finland. Employment-like labour is performed by chaining interns and through recuperative employment, which is particularly prone to misuse. People with full working abilities have been guided, without reason, to recuperative work by threatening them with waiting periods. The municipalities must evaluate critically the recuperative work operations they implement themselves. Employment plans must be drawn according to individual situations, and the agreed things must also be held on to. People with only a partial ability to work must be offered practical employment training. Disabled persons cannot be held in exemplary employment for years at an end. All exemplary employment activities must be truly recuperative, as otherwise they would have to be organized as wage-subsidized employment.

The municipalities must implement the requirement for using wage subsidies to increase employment for people over 57. Active employment policies also reduce the share of the labour market subsidies the municipalities must pay. People in internships, recuperative work and other temporary work activities must be provided employment-based health care. The problems of exemplary employment must be mapped and fixed – the intent is eventually moving on to paid work, not endless chaining of activities. The remuneration for exemplary employment must surpass the cost of participating in the activities. Real wages and other benefits must be paid for work that meets the conditions to be considered wage labour.

C. Proper growth with a municipal growth policy

In addition to an economic policy, municipalities need a vitality policy that focuses not only on supporting growth and investments but also on increasing the participation of the municipal residents and consistently developing the attraction and retention rates of the municipality. Every single municipality cannot have a positive internal migration balance, but each of them may still work to increase its vitality. Participatory budgeting municipal residents get a bigger share of the pie, though special attention needs to be paid in making each resident’s voice is equally heard, thus ensuring that it is not just the projects of the wealthiest that succeed.

The best economic policy for municipalities is the provision of good basic services and investments in education. Expert workforce is an essential facet in making life in the municipalities more durable. Sufficient resources for education, and particularly the security of vocational secondary education, are central factors of growth. In addition to sufficient resourcing for training, municipalities must improve the preconditions for studies, including offering enough placements in residential housing.

In cities, it is particularly important to concentrate on the operating conditions of NGOs. This includes the various pro-employment activities of NGOs, recuperative work projects, the employment of the youth and project moneys.

GOOD MUNICIPALITIES BELONG TO ALL!

Well-being from arts, sports, and adult education

 

1. Making libraries the cornerstone of a literate society

Libraries are a cornerstone of the society, an example of a service that produces welfare and advances active citizen participation for municipal residents of all incomes. The libraries, formerly a mere facility for borrowing books, now offer varied services and act as a centre of community, but their resourcing still lags. Supporting the libraries with increased funds is important not only for the municipalities but also for the whole of the society.

A. Resourcing the libraries

Libraries should continue to be developed as expansive centres of data, sharing economy and social life. This requires sufficient resources, also guaranteeing the availability of library services in the less inhabited areas with, for instance, extensively serving library buses. The material acquirement of the libraries should also ensure that the multitude and the linguistic range of the readers is respected.

b. Support the raising of children and youth to literacy

Libraries have a vast role in improving children’s literacy. The cooperation of libraries and the surrounding services is essential supporting reading and writing with, for instance, activities involving reading godparents and reading dogs. Municipalities should organize gender and culture sensitive reading training, specifically making an effort to encourage the boys to read.

Art is a huge part of what being a human is all about, a part of peoples’ everyday lives throughout their life. Art and culture must be preserved in its variety, available to all. Art and culture produced by minorities thus needs special attention. Finnish art is rich in quality and content and has great vitality, and municipalities have a very important role in supporting it.

A. Providing decently priced spaces and services for those operating in the field of free art

The Municipal Cultural Activities Law requires municipalities to provide spaces for professional artists. Independent artists must have purpose-oriented spaces for work and operations, sufficient financial support and, among other things, a structure that enables them to make sales and rent works.

As the participation in art and culture and its availability increase, the municipal law also requires ensuring the artist’s work gets compensated according to fair wage practices. Free production of art, though desirable, cannot be based on art professionals working for free.

b. Increasing the resources of the art institutions and making them inexpensive enough for everyone

Regional facilities have a special role in the artistic life of the area and employ many art professionals. They need enough financial resources to also enable visitations and smaller productions to guarantee their variety. Paying for presentations also needs to be accounted for. Ticket prices must be reasonable enough to support the availability of culture and, when required, Kaikukortti card shall be used to offer cultural services on a social or economic basis.

C. Offering grants and cooperation models for the operators and events of the cultural field

Independent cultural actors also need a way to receive work and project grants, and the municipality must actively enable the cooperation of the cultural operators and the city service areas.

d. Implementing the percentage principle with fair reward practices in municipalities

The percentage principle, where 1% of the budget of the construction projects is used on art, ensures the quality of the spaces and the availability of art. The municipalities must create a program for principles of public art and obey the percentage principle systematically to guarantee regional equality. The work of the artists, in all operations, must be remunerated fairly. The municipalities must implement these operations in the field of art and culture by using labour co-operatives or ordering them from a company with a business ID.

The use of the percentage principle in social and health care institutions ensures that a person’s right to art and culture always bolsters the right of self-determination, and in the most stressful phases of life. Quality art also bolsters health and welfare.

The varied possibilities for organized and independent activities, arts and sports form an important part in municipal well-being and thus also serve as a retention factor for residents. The right to hobbies, art and personal functioning is one of the basic building blocks of a good life. Municipalities can support it in many ways.

A. Making sports free for youth

Youth sports belong to the richest and the poorest alike. The municipalities must thus offer free locations for sports and athletics of those under 25, including an increased amount of neighbourhood sport services.

b. Athletic instructors for all ages, art in facilities

Athletics are an essential part of the health and wellbeing of all municipal residents. There must be a clear, goal-oriented agenda to advance athletics in cooperation with the residents. The sports instruction operates as intended when all municipal inhabitants can get support for finding a suitable form of athletics. Associations need the resources to meet all preconditions for quality provision of sports and athletics.

The experience of art and culture, and art and culture as a hobby, must be truly achievable both financially and regionally. Participation must be advanced by making art operations a part of every school day and all early childhood education, and by organizing, for instance, the possibility of borrowing instruments.

c. Increasing opportunities for self-directed activities and non-commercial spaces

The use of sport spaces must be enabled on afternoons, nights, and weekends, as well as around the year. Municipalities must organize and officially approve principles for the distribution of shifts for such spaces, also considering the principle of fair distribution of shifts for different genders. The municipal spaces must be offered free of cost to organizations producing leisure-time operations, including NGOs.

Non-commercial urban spaces must be developed in accordance with the people’s wishes. Instead of advertising spaces, we need art for public spaces, creating space for the self-directed activities of municipal inhabitants.

World and the working life are changing rapidly, and non-formal adult education has an important role not only in teaching useful skills in public life but also in enabling lifelong learning. It has never been easier to utilize non-formal adult education in spreading new public skills, and thus increasing the resources for independent educational work is important.

A. Right to learn – making free educational work available for all

Apart from degree-oriented studies, free educational work is currently the most important non-work-related method of training, important both for the development of personal expertise and the promotion of general welfare.

Through training, resourcing, and accessibility, the full participation of municipal inhabitants needing special support can be enabled. This requires expanding the use of the Kaikukortti card and study vouchers in the municipalities to offer more social opportunities in participating in art, culture, and adult education service.

b. Promoting digital and language skills at all ages

It is currently very difficult to be a full participant in the society without sufficient digital skills. Different ages require different forms support for digital skills, and everybody is entitled to have a chance at developing the required skills. In addition to offering courses in digital skills, intergenerational digital godparent operations need strengthening. It must also be ensured that the elderly have sufficient expertise and access to necessary online services.

Municipal skills also include language skills that enable survival in everyday life and conducting one’s affairs in their own locality. All municipal inhabitants must have the right to study any languages that have a formal status in the municipality.