At the Helsinki City Board meeting of 14 September 2020, the City Board approved for their part a resolution on a statement for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on the Finnish Government’s draft proposal for legislation concerning a reform of the organization of health, social and rescue services as well as the establishment of regions for the purpose. According to the statement, the establishment of health and social services regions constitutes a comprehensive systemic change, which will have such sizable consequences and effects on municipalities and the City of Helsinki that are difficult to anticipate.
Although the proposed special arrangements for Uusimaa can be considered a positive development and diminishes the risks involved in the reform compared with the previous proposals, there are risks involved especially in the system for the financing of the special arrangements.
From the City of Helsinki’s viewpoint, the biggest problem with the reform and the most significant transition caused by the reform concern the changes proposed for the financing model in municipalities. As a result, there are dangers that the revenue base and incentives of cities, for example, to implement their own economic policy and to build globally competitive cities, would be essentially weakened. According to the proposed legislation, the funding for health and social services for Helsinki would be unjustifiably small and does not take into consideration the diversity and scope of the range of special health and social problems in the metropolitan area. Thus the City of Helsinki considers it necessary that the criteria for defining the financing of health and social services regions and how these criteria are weighted should be revised in connection with further preparation.
In its statement, the City of Helsinki also draws attention to the fact that the health and social services reform introduces exceptional uncertainty to the economy of the municipal sector in the next few years, and this uncertainty is markedly increased by the prevailing and ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As a consequence, the City of Helsinki considers it unfortunate that such a governance reform of historically large proportions proceeds to decision-making during the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, which has caused an unprecedented economic, social and healthcare crisis.
The City Board approved the statement with an addition from a counter-proposal that addressed a shift in the duties of school social workers and school psychologists in student care. According to the counter-proposal, the City of Helsinki has a negative opinion of the transfer of the duties of school social workers and school psychologists in student care to health and social services regions, in Helsinki to the Social Services and Health Care Division.
The matter proceeds from the Helsinki City Board to the Helsinki City Council to be considered for a resolution at the City Council meeting of 23 September 2020. Thereafter the City Board will submit the City of Helsinki statement to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in accordance with the City Council’s resolution.
The City Board approved a statement on the preliminary operational and economic plan of the HSL joint municipal authority for 2021–2023
The City Board supports the preliminary operational and economic plan of the joint municipal authority Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) for 2021–2023. The vision and strategic emphases of the strategic plan for 2018–2021 provide a good foundation for HSL’s operations. The goals outlined in the strategy can be approved and, for their part, they support the development goals of Helsinki and the Helsinki region by integrating public transport services into the general development.
The City Board approved the statement with additions from five counter-proposals. Among other things, the counter-proposals addressed the means by which the economy of public transport affected by the pandemic should be balanced, a raise in the public transport penalty fare, the cancellation of the right for free travel from passengers with baby strollers, and the introduction of one-zone single tickets.
All approved counter-proposals and how the City Board voted can be found in the decisions release (in Finnish).
An updated operational plan of the city logistics project approved
The City Board approved an updated operational plan of the Helsinki city logistics project (Citylogistiikka). The goals of city logistics development are improvements in the cost efficiency and environmental standards of transport as well as minimizing adverse impacts from operations.
The city logistics project’s operational plan was updated with consideration of the general evolution of city logistics such as new light logistics solutions, opportunities offered by digitalization and smart mobility in transport, increasingly pronounced environmental considerations, and the limited space for logistical operations in the Helsinki inner city.
New areas for development outlined in the updated operational plan include easier stopping at delivery sites, the development of underground deliveries by promoting the utilization of the city centre maintenance tunnel, promotion of environmentally friendly delivery solutions, and the implementation of an information system to ease deliveries.
The city logistics operational plan supports the Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021, according to which the preconditions for the logistics of business operations are actively developed in Helsinki.
Furthermore, the City Board considered several initiatives put forward by City Councillors and approved, for the City Board’s part, principles for the leasing of the Tennispalatsi (Tennis Palace) site and the addition of the right of acquisition to land lease agreements, among other matters.
All decisions of the City Board meeting are available on the decisions release page. A decisions release is posted on the page until meeting minutes are published. City Board meeting minutes are available here. (All pages and documents are in Finnish.)