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Building our everyday future

What is your everyday life like after the regional government, health and social services reform?

Actions for Finnish everyday life

The regional government, health and social services reform means actions for a good, ordinary everyday life and equality. The reform is carried out to ensure that everyone, including our children and their children, can have equal, high-quality public services throughout the country. The reform will also improve people’s opportunities to participate. Residents of the counties can make their voice heard easier than before in matters regarding their own lives, their loved ones, their everyday life, and their environment.

 

Parliament will adopt decisions concerning the legislation on the health, social services and regional government reform in June–July 2018. The reform is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2020.

How can you affect matters in your county? And why should you?

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The regional government reform increases democracy, and the power you have. Affect the future of your county by voting in the county elections on 28 October 2018!

Already this October, you can decide who in your county makes decisions on employment actions, environmental matters, health and social services, land use, traffic planning, and agricultural development, among other matters. Decisions related to your area which were previously made by regional offices of state or joint municipal authorities (ELY, Regional State Administrative Agencies, TE offices) will now be made directly by those selected for the job by you and the other residents in your area. Make a difference in your county’s future right from the start!

County councils have great responsibility and power on the development of the area and the organisation of services. By voting, you can affect the matters promoted in your county. Vote or run for the council, and create the county you want to live in!

  • The county council selected next October will outline the strategy and future of your county, and take responsibility for financial planning and decision making. Right now is the time to lay the foundation of your future county.
  • The county council makes decisions which benefit the entire area, across municipal limits. If you want to make a difference in the future of an extensively vital county and your own municipality, run for the county council or participate by voting.
  • You can vote for the candidates of your county if you are at least 18 years old and a citizen of Finland, an EU citizen or a citizen of Iceland or Norway who lives in Finland, or if your citizenship is outside the EU but you have lived in Finland for at least 2 years. The sizes of the county councils vary according to the number of residents, from at least 59 county councillors in smaller counties to at least 99 in the largest counties.

The reform also increases other direct possibilities for influencing matters

You can make your voice heard through voting in the county election, but also through youth councils and boards for the elderly and the disabled, client panels, county initiatives, and county referendums.

More information: vaalit.fi

What’s everyday life like for you as a resident of the county?

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Your county makes at least these three promises to you as a resident:

  • The level of democracy in decisions regarding your area will increase, and your voice can be heard in matters related to you and your county.
  • Significant services produced with public funding will remain available and reachable to you.
  • The high quality and equality of public services is guaranteed for future generations as well.

After the regional government, health and social services reform, many things go on just like they did before: children go to school, public transportation runs as normal, people go to work and hobbies, health centres serve people… Life goes on as usual. However, there are some new things as well. People have more opportunities to affect the development and events in their area through county elections, client panels, and the right of initiative. Youth councils and boards for the elderly and the disabled also promote matters related to the area where you live.

Health and social services are now the responsibility of the county instead of the municipality. In practice, this means that services are ensured as extensively as possible to everyone: children, young people, adults, and the elderly. The participation of private companies and organisations in the production of health and well-being services brings increased freedom of choice.

Counties also see to the financial success of their area as well as work for the growth of companies and the employment of people. The services for job-seekers and companies are collected in the counties under one roof as growth services, which aim to improve the employment level and business compatibility of the area.

Digital services are also increasing, meaning that personal online appointments with experts in various fields are now possible even in more remote areas. These could include doctor’s consultations, employment advice, family support services, and business services. Many services will also be on four wheels and go where the clients are.

Decisions regarding your environment, nature, and the utilisation of natural resources will be made closer to you, the resident. Your opportunities to actively participate will increase.

Read more about the assignments of the counties.

What’s everyday life like for you and your family?

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Your county makes at least these three promises to you and your family:

  • Your entire family will receive the health care and social services they need, . The services will be brought together and you will not have to dash from one place to another.
  • You will receive help and support for your family’s everyday life according to your family’s situation and needs. You can ask for help at the day care centre, maternity and child health clinic, health and social services centre, or school, and be directed to the right place.
  • Health and social services suitable to your family are more extensively available to choose from.

After the regional government, health and social services reform, this is one alternative:
your children go to day care and school just like they would now, visits to the maternity and child health clinic continue in the same fashion, and there’s no interruptions to hobbies, either. Your home municipality manages day care centres, schools, and many sports and culture services. Services and support for various life situations are also brought closer to the everyday life of children, young people, and families, for example in day care centres and schools. This way, the municipality and county cooperate across borders, for the good of families.

What if my family runs into sudden adversities, illness, or financial difficulties?
The regional government, health and social services reform is intended to strengthen safety networks and make services for families more readily available, as they are provided by larger operators and in more effective ways. The services still exist for those who need them. There’s just more freedom of choice, as public services are supported by organisations and private service providers. The services are knitted together into a network which ensures that the need for support is recognised in time, as well as allows families to receive the help they need when they need it. No matter where you live, the services will continue to cover the entire country as equally as possible.

If there are no changes to my everyday life, why should I care?
Families with children have a window into the future: their children, and the future generations whose lives we are affecting through the choices we make today. The regional government, health and social services reform was planned to ensure the high quality and equality of public services throughout the country, at reasonable prices, for future generations as well. The future of your children is reason enough to care about your improved possibilities to make a difference. Find out more about the county elections.

What’s your everyday life like as you age?

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Your county makes at least these three promises to the elderly:

  • Versatile home services can help you have a good everyday life at your own home for as long as possible.
  • The health and social services centres will help you just like before, and in case of emergency, you can still call 112.
  • Your possibilities to influence your regional services will increase through boards for the elderly, elections, and various hearings.

Pensioners, most of whom are active and healthy, can continue their lives as before even after the reform. Your municipality remains in charge of your everyday environment and sports and culture services. As you age or your condition so requires, you can turn to the county’s home care services, which allow everyone to lead a good life at home for as long as possible. If you are alone, you can also find help through various organisations which offer activities for your everyday life.

Health care and medical care, home care services, and housing services for the elderly are among the most significant cornerstones of the reform. As the population ages, the objective is that society can afford to offer high-quality public services to everyone around the country, equally and regardless of where they live. One of the most significant objectives of the reform is to ensure that everyone can have a dignified life as an elderly person.

Student, what’s your everyday life like?

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Your county makes at least these three promises to students and other young people:

  • You will receive the health and social services you need in a smart way, according to your life situation and needs.
  • Increased digital public services that go with you wherever you go.
  • When you complete your studies and aim for working life, versatile employment, career development, and competence development services will be available when you need them.

After the regional government, health and social services reform, your studies, school, and student life will continue just like before. Your current home municipality and other familiar organisers of education will continue to be responsible for education all the way from preschool to vocational studies. The reform will also not change the position or operations of institutes of higher education. The reform will not change the funding of your studies, either.

No matter where you live in Finland, all of the student care services are available to you. As a student in upper secondary school or vocational education, your county will offer any health care or dental care services you need. If you study at a university or university of applied sciences, the student health care services are available through the Finnish Student Health Services (FSHS). In case of urgent need of medical care, you can always turn to the health and social services centre of your choice.

No changes to my everyday life, then. So why should I care?
There is one crucial thing changing which affects you. You can be a bit more trusting about the future, where the functionality of our society rests on the work and taxes of your generation. After the reform, the prices of the services needed to maintain the welfare state will not have climbed. You and the generations after you can have equally high-quality public services throughout the country, regardless of your background. You will also have improved possibilities to affect the decisions made in your region. Find out more about the youth councils and county elections.

What’s everyday life like for you as a job-seeker?

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Your county makes at least these three promises to you as as a job-seeker:

  • You will get help and support for all phases of your career, from finding a job and choosing a career to developing your competence.
  • Digital services are developed to complement the existing services.
  • If you need more extensive support for finding a job, the health and social services can be more flexibly combined with employment services.

The regional government, health and social services reform is a significant step in taking care of unemployment, as the current TE Services and corporate services by the ELY Centres become the responsibility of the counties. When your county organises services for both companies and job-seekers, work, competence, and jobs meet better than before. As a job-seeker, you will continue to get help and support for finding a job, choice of a career, and competence development throughout the various stages of your career. Digital services complement the face-to-face services. The aim is to continue developing online services and be able to offer personal guidance online to job-seekers, for example. Your municipality can still organise local services, such as workshop activities. Educational services will be organized as before.

As employment services are moved under the same county roof along with health and social services, even those who find it difficult to find a job can get help and support for their individual needs, abilities, and rehabilitation, and the services will work together better.

What’s your everyday life like as an entrepreneur?

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Your county makes at least these four promises to you as as an entrepreneur:

  • It becomes easier for job-seekers and the needs of employers to align with each other.
  • You will receive services and support for the founding, development, growth, and internationalisation of your company.
  • As a resident of the county, you will have improved possibilities to affect the development of your business environment.
  • Your county will invest in increasingly diverse entrepreneurship and creating growth in the whole country.

There should be no dramatic changes in your everyday life as an entrepreneur right after the reform. The responsibility for many services and decisions that support entrepreneurship will continue to rest with the municipality, including land use planning and zoning, business plots, business advisory services, energy issues, and road maintenance.

The reform may in fact bring new opportunities for developing the viability and livelihoods of the region. The shift of the responsibility for employment and economic development services offered by the TE Centres and business services of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) to the counties will facilitate the match between workforce and the needs of employers. Your own county will also manage the tasks related to funding for enterprises and support payments to farmers.

Services for employment and growth

The reform aims to respond even better to the rapid changes in the needs of companies and the labour market, and to find the best means to enhance the vitality of the area. Service companies will have a stronger role in the provision of employment and growth services. In the process new innovations and markets will also be created, which may bring new business opportunities to local enterprises and more service alternatives to companies that are the best suited to their circumstances, including training, consultation and development services. This means that in future your county will offer the services and support you need for setting up, developing and internationalising a company. Through counties you will also have access to nationwide services for internationalisation and innovation funding (Business Finland).

The county may produce the services or purchase them from private companies or the third sector. Increased freedom of choice in health and social welfare services offers new business opportunities to companies. Options such as service vouchers and personal budgets may bring new customers even to small service providers.

Rural enterprises

Access to services in a single location will facilitate the day-to-day living of entrepreneurs. The regional government reform will bring together the services for rural entrepreneurs now offered by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI), joint municipal authorities and municipalities. It is easier to do business with one single organisation.

The main thing is that you will find help and support – including personal advice – at a reasonable distance in all matters concerning your enterprise, including the criteria for support payments, farm relief services and animal health issues. Your county will advise you in support payments to farms and matters related to the development of and investments in agricultural holdings. Digital services are making fast progress, also enabling virtual access to expert knowledge and assistance.

Many entrepreneurs and companies are active in developing their area. The regional government and health and social services reform will open up new venues for the residents to get involved in the development of the entire county. Decisions on land use policy, transport infrastructure and other strategic and structural matters will be made by elected county councils. Other means to make things happen include the right of initiative, various boards and councils, and client panels. Better opportunities for citizens’ participation is also in the interest of the companies and business.

County tasks are visible in the everyday life of the residents

+ Well-being and health Read more

The first priority of the reform is to ensure that high-quality health and social services are available to everyone as equally as possible, regardless of where they live. Your county is responsible for organising the services, which can be provided by public, private, or organisational operators.

This means that in many cases you can freely choose the provider of the health or social services you need, as long as the provider is approved by the county. The client fees are the same whether you get the service from a public or private provider or an organisation. You can also choose which of the county’s service units you go to, as regards maternity and child health clinics or social centres, for example.

The municipalities, county, and the private operators in the area cooperate closely. This is to ensure that the residents have quicker access to doctors and other services, queuing is reduced, and service chains are combined smoothly.

Local services will still play a significant part in your area. You can, for example, continue using maternity clinic services as you have done, and occupational health services will continue as before. The increased amount of digital services makes your everyday life more flexible, as you can, for example, make appointments and ask for advice online, or make a virtual appointment with a remote doctor. The maternity clinic carries out family work at home if necessary, and home services are available to assist older people with their everyday lives. In sparsely populated areas, services can be brought close to those who need them by using mobile units, such as vaccination buses or dental care buses.

If you need urgent care, you can go to the nearest emergency service, just like today, and in case of an emergency, the emergency number 112 is there to help. Central hospitals’ The joint emergency services will continue to provide the most commonly needed emergency services. The most demanding treatments are only available in the 12 designated units with extensive service around the clock. Most of us don’t often need such services; perhaps once in a lifetime. Emergency social services are also available.

Of course, people need much more than just health care services to ensure their overall well-being. Exercise, hobbies, arts, and culture services are also a significant part of well-being. They will remain the responsibility of your home municipality. The operations of organisations and peer support can also provide important meaning to your life. Many of the town-specific decisions related to the comfort of your living environment, construction, and nature are still made in your home municipality. However, the counties allow you to have a stronger and more direct impact on the development of your area, in questions related to natural values, land use planning, or cultural environment.

Health care and social services of the county:

  • services provided by health and social services centre
  • hospital services
  • dental care
  • mental health and substance abuse services
  • maternity and child health clinics
  • adult social work
  • child welfare services
  • services for persons with disabilities
  • housing services for older people
  • home care
  • rehabilitation

+ Environment Read more

Decisions related to environmental matters are a major entity unto itself, whose significance for the well-being and future of people, companies, society, and the entire world keeps increasing. After the regional government reform, many environmental matters and questions related to livelihood and traffic will be transferred to the new county government, selected by the residents of the county. You will have increasing opportunities to affect the development of your living environment as a voter, a maker of initiatives, and a participant.

The county will bear most of the responsibility for the versatility of nature, land use outlines, traffic, water management, and cultural environment in your area. The county will promote sustainable development, a low-carbon society, energy and material efficiency, climate objectives, and circular economy. Your county will also cooperate closely with the National Supervisory Authority (Luova) in environmental matters.

The county’s assignments include managing water protection in a way that ensures the good state of rivers, lakes, groundwaters, and the Baltic Sea. Your county will also ensure that the traffic and land use plans support the sustainable development of the area. In addition, the counties in coastal areas cooperate closely with each other in matters related to the use of the sea area and coordinate the needs of fishing, tourism, traffic, companies, and residents in the area. The funding of water protection and waterway repairs, for example, is transferred to counties.

Counties promote the protection and sustainable use of natural diversity. They negotiate with the landowners on founding voluntary nature conservation areas and promote the consideration of natural values in the planning of land and water use. Counties collect information on the types of nature and species of plant and animals in their area. They also produce information on the environment, promote the environmental responsibility of their residents and the work on environmental systems in companies, and organise environmental education.

Traffic and transportation are an essential part of the functionality of a person’s living environment. Your county plays a significant role in this as well, maintaining the main roads in the area and creating infrastructure for the residents and companies. The street networks and urban environments remain the responsibility of the municipalities.

Your living environment, land use planning, and construction remain for the most part in the hands of your municipality. If you wish to start a new construction, the instructions are the same as before: apply for the building permit from your municipality. The counties are responsible for more general matters, and the county land use plan.

A good and safe living environment is the foundation for all well-being and a base for vital counties to be built on. A good environment enables entrepreneurship, food production, and sustainable use of natural resources.

The county’s environmental assignments

  • county planning and county land use planning
  • promoting municipal land use planning
  • water management
  • coastal area planning
  • promoting environmental protection
  • managing cultural environments
  • producing environmental information

The county’s traffic assignments

  • functionality of the traffic system
  • traffic safety
  • road and traffic conditions
  • regional road management
  • land use cooperation
  • producing information on the operating environment for national traffic system planning
  • state subsidy assignments related to private roads and transportation guidance

+ Employment Read more

One of the objectives of the regional government reform is for job-seekers to find jobs and companies to find employees faster. This is why the public employment and business services are reformed as well. The assignments managed by TE offices and ELY centres will now be the responsibility of the counties. Therefore, in the future your county will organise services for companies as well as job-seekers.

You will get help and support for finding a job, choice of a career, and competence development throughout the various stages of your career. Digital services complement the face-to-face services. Finland is a country with long geographical distances, and it is important to continue developing online services and be able to offer personal guidance online to job-seekers. Your municipality can still organise local services, such as workshop activities.

With the employment services being moved under the same county roof with health and social services, residents can receive more seamless support for their individual needs, abilities, and rehabilitation to working life. Counties will cooperate closely with companies, organisations, and municipalities in the promotion of employment. Exceedingly versatile and client-oriented services can be produced for job-seekers as well as companies through combining competence from the various operators.

Read more at tem.fi/en

+ Entrepreneurship Read more

The preconditions for entrepreneurship and business operations are improved throughout the country as services which support the availability of the workforce are combined with other services that support the competitiveness and growth of companies.

The corporate services of ELY centres and the assignments of the TE centres are transferred to the counties. The objective is to respond to the needs of companies and the changes in the employment market faster and more flexibly.

In the future, counties can adjust their services for the exact need of their area even better than today. The need for services varies between counties, as do the population, employment, and occupation structures. The counties will be able to customise the services for their clients. You will receive services and support for the founding, development, growth, and internationalisation of your company. These services are increasingly provided by private companies which go through a tendering process organised by your county. This creates new innovations and new local business operations. Counties are also the route into national internationalisation and innovation funding services (Business Finland).

Read more at tem.fi/en

+ Rural areas, food and natural resources Read more

The responsibility for rural development and agricultural support payments will shift to the counties. Agriculture and the food economy, rural development and natural resources constitute a broad entity which comprises support payments to producers, food safety, animal health and welfare, veterinary services, plant health, funding for rural projects and enterprises, Leader action, fisheries, nature-based livelihoods, water supply and services, and flood protection. Most of the tasks of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI) and municipalities will be managed by one single organisation, the counties.

The task of the counties is to provide the conditions for diverse entrepreneurship, food production, and other sustainable utilisation of natural resources. They will also cooperate closely with the National Licensing and Supervisory Authority (Luova). Your municipality is still responsible for many local services that support agricultural entrepreneurship.

In future the responsibility for farm relief and veterinary services will rest with the counties. The Finnish Food Agency to be set up in 2019 will manage the support payments to producers, but the counties will process the applications and see to the controls relating to support. Even after the regional government reform the Finnish agricultural policy will be based on the common agricultural policy and EU legislation.

The counties will secure the conditions for the viable development of area, entrepreneurship, food production, and sustainable utilisation of natural resources. Farm relief services and certain tasks relating to the management of support payments to farmers will be transferred to counties. Good collaboration between the counties and municipalities will ensure equal and efficient access to services for all entrepreneurs and residents in different parts of the county. Most of the expert tasks in fisheries and water supply and services will also be managed by the counties. Cooperation between counties will be needed for appropriate management of the tasks also in transboundary water areas. Securing the wellbeing of the people, animals and the environment is a high priority for your county.

+ Safety Read more

Every resident has the right to a safe living environment, to emergency and other help, and to be able to cope in a crisis situation. This will, of course, still be the case after the regional government reform. Personal safety is typically related to whether emergency or other help is available when needed. Such services will be the responsibility of the county rescue departments. Access to these services and their availability in an accident or other situation will remain at or above the present level: a fire engine or ambulance will arrive at the scene at least as quickly as before. In an emergency, call 112 for help. Prehospital emergency medical services will continue to be a local service. These services will contribute to the assessment of the customer’s need for care and begin urgent treatment. Urgent medical care in the form of 24-hour primary healthcare and specialised medical care services will be available to everyone, as will emergency social services.

The regional government reform will not affect policing. The police will respond to a call in the same way as before.

Environmental safety and crisis preparedness are the job of your county. This means that your county decides how to respond to natural disasters, environmental disasters and other major and unforeseen situations. If, for instance, transport or communications links to a community are cut due to a major snowfall or an autumn storm, the county authorities will be responsible for the provision and management of the necessary rescue services.

Your county will also be responsible for ensuring that there is no danger to you or the environment from environmental toxins, environmental contamination or hazardous substances. The management of flood risks is also the task of the counties, which will work closely together across the different river systems, and collaboration with county rescue departments will be even closer than before.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that whatever the emergency, the number to call for help is the familiar 112.

What are the counties?

After the reform is in place, there will be 18 counties, which are scheduled to begin their operations on 1 January 2020. The new counties will be autonomous regions.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR COUNTY
Find out more about the progress of the reform in your county, read about local preparations, and participate in discussions. Click to go to your county’s website:

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FAQ

+ What is the regional government, health and social services reform?

18 new counties will be formed. County councils will be selected via election to make the decisions in the counties. The municipalities will remain, but some of their assignments are transferred to the counties. Most of the assignments of ELY centres, TE offices, Regional State Administrative Agencies, and joint municipal authorities are also transferred to the counties. The counties do not have the right to collect taxes; rather, their funding comes from the state and from client charges. The counties will organise the health and social services for their respective areas, and ensure the availability of the services and the implementation of the freedom of choice in accordance with the freedom of choice act.

+ When will the reform take place?

The county elections will be organised on 28 October 2018. Through the election, the residents of each county who are entitled to vote can select the county councillors for their county council. The sizes of the county councils vary according to the number of residents, from at least 59 county councillors in smaller counties to at least 99 in the largest ones.

In the beginning of 2019, the county councils and counties will get organised, and during that spring they will make the decisions on the organisation of the health and social services and the implementation of the freedom of choice.

Parliament will adopt decisions concerning the legislation on the health, social services and regional government reform in June–July 2018. The reform is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2020, when the responsibility for the organisation of health and social services will be transferred to the counties. Freedom of choice will be extended in stages.

+ Does the reform increase bureaucracy?

Quite the opposite! The main idea of the entire regional government, health and social services reform is to create a modern, streamlined, and cost-efficient administration for Finland, which will serve people in a client-oriented manner.

The number of different administrative organisations is radically reduced, as some 190 inter-municipal or other organisations are replaced with 18 counties which will manage the assignments of approximately 400 municipal or state authorities. This means a giant leap towards a one-stop shop principle in client-oriented service. Most of the assignments of ELY centres, TE offices, Regional State Administrative Agencies, joint municipal authorities, and municipalities are moved under the same county roof to ensure that the clients receive the best services for their situation in a flexible manner. Collecting the assignments in one place will also make employment services more efficient, as it becomes easier for the needs of companies to meet the expertise of job-seekers.

+ What will happen to local services?

The county must ensure that important public services are available to everyone and reasonably easily accessible. The local health and social services are provided for the everyday life of the clients, and their availability is secured using new means, including digital and mobile services. Social services are an example of local services produced at the client’s home, as a mobile service, or at an office that is easily reachable by public transport. Such services can include home care, family work, and child welfare services. Services and help at home is also available for elderly people. The role of the municipality remains significant for the everyday environment of the residents. Early childhood education, school, exercise opportunities, food and cultural services, land use planning, and traffic arrangements are examples of matters which affect the health and well-being of people. The municipalities remain responsible for organising these matters, among many others.

+ How can I make a difference?

You can make your voice heard through voting in the county elections, but also through youth councils and boards for the elderly and the disabled, client panels, county initiatives, and county referendums. Decisions related to your area which were previously made by regional offices of state or joint municipal authorities (ELY, Regional State Administrative Agencies, TE offices) will now be made directly by those selected for the job by you and the other residents in your area. All residents of the county as well as communities and foundations operating in the area are entitled to make initiatives in matters related to the operations of the county.

+ Can I receive services in my native language?

As a client, you are entitled to services in Finnish or Swedish. Sometimes, there is no common language. In these cases, an interpreter must be used, or the staff must otherwise ensure that the client understands how their matters are being processed.