JHL (05.04.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Planned regional reform does not mean municipalities will disappear, says Minna Salminen, JHL Special Adviser of Public Affairs.

Municipalities and the regions will have very close co-operation in the future, in particular with regard to social and health care services, but also in areas like the emergency service.

The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL organise professionals and students of welfare services in municipalities, the state and the private sector.

Finland is facing a new administrative situation, should the planned regional reform be passed by Parliament. All public social welfare and health care services will be transferred from municipalities to the 18 autonomous regions by the beginning of 2019.

"This does not mean that the municipalities will no longer have responsibilities in the area of wellbeing and health. In future municipalities and regions will conduct close cooperation in these fields", Minna Salminen writes in her blog on the JHL web pages.

This cooperation is not voluntary, it is clearly set down in the legislation. Municipalities are charged with facilitating wellbeing by supporting citizens' activities, and most importantly, responsibility for running their own services. Early childhood education, school education and industrial policy are among the most important of these tasks.

Municipalities can be active even when the economic situation in the surrounding world is not good. They can employ people and support liberal adult education in order to strengthen the competence of those who are not in working life.

The upcoming regional reform creates a new situation for cooperation between municipalities and regions. But as the goal of both is the same, to produce services for citizens, there is a need for a deeper cooperation. This is especially true in instances where the customers happen to be the same, Salminen stresses.

Municipal elections in Finland are scheduled to take place on Sunday April 9. JHL is encouraging people to vote as municipalities are still important notwithstanding regional reform.

Hundreds of JHL members are standing as candidates for the municipal councils. The Union is supporting all of them by delivering background material on important issues.