There have been two reforms in Finland recently, which the Alzheimer Society of Finland (Muistiliitto) says will have a big impact on Finnish NGOs such as themselves.
The first reform involves one of the main sources of funding for Muistiliitto and many other NGOs: RAY - Finland’s Slot Machine Association. RAY grant funding is collected from slot machines and casino gaming operations and channeled into health and social welfare organisations. Funding is granted annually, based on applications.
Now in Finland the three Finnish gambling operators - RAY, the Finnish lottery for Finns (Veikkaus Oy) and Fintoto - will merge. The Government has set a goal that this new gambling entity will begin its operations at the start of 2017.
Muistiliitto is concerned about what kind of changes this merger will bring. It has been said that the revenue/earnings of the gambling operators will continue to be used for non-profit purposes and the merger does not affect the status of the beneficiaries. However, on 16 December RAY published a proposal, yet to be ratified by the Ministry in January, that Muistiliitto would be granted nearly EUR 1.8 million for 2017 and altogether Muistiliitto and its member associations nearly EUR 10 million. The sum is greater than in previous years.
The aim of the Government is to maintain the Finnish gambling system, which is based on the monopoly of national operators. The merger of the gambling operators will strengthen this monopoly, to help protect the country’s unique system against international gambling business, which collects profits rather than using them for non-profit purposes.
The second reform, which Muistiliitto finds more worrying involves a big reform package. The healthcare, social welfare and regional government reform package is one of the biggest ever administrative and operational overhauls in Finland. The reform impacts the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people and affects the services of every citizen in the country. It also has an effect on financial resources, steering and taxation of healthcare and social welfare services. The aim is to transfer the organisation of health care and social services and other regional services to autonomous regions as of 1 January 2019.
Social welfare and health care reform means that responsibility for providing public healthcare and social services will be assigned to autonomous regions that are larger than municipalities. Healthcare and social services will be brought together at all levels to form customer-oriented entities, and basic public services will be strengthened. Customers will have more freedom of choice in the services.
The objective is to reduce inequities in wellbeing and health between people, and to manage costs.
The target is that the reform will help to bridge a large part of the sustainability gap in general government finances.
The Government's aim is to save EUR 10 billion, of which approximately EUR 3 billion should be covered through the reforms in the branch of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Besides structural reforms, the steering and operating models in healthcare and social welfare will be thoroughly modernised.
The aim is to achieve better services that are not only more customer-oriented, effective and cost-efficient than before but also better coordinated.
Public administration in Finland will be organized on three levels as follows: central government, autonomous regions and local government.
The existing division into regions will be used as a basis for dividing the country into autonomous regions. Responsibility for the organization of healthcare and social services will be transferred from joint municipal authorities and local authorities to the autonomous regions on 1 January 2019.