Expert group: The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the strengths and fractures of the welfare society
The emergency caused by the coronavirus has had an uneven impact on Finnish society and different groups of people. Those who are already weak bear the greatest burden. The situation requires both immediate and long-term measures to maintain the preconditions, equity and equality of the welfare society, as was outlined by Archbishop Emeritus Kari Mäkinen.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed an expert group, chaired by Archbishop Emeritus Kari Mäkinen, to look for tools to strengthen wellbeing and equality in the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic. The expert group produced a report to highlight the critical cornerstones of the welfare society that can prevent the society from collapsing.
Bringing attention to those most affected by the coronavirus epidemic
Comprehensive wellbeing of all population groups is crucial from the perspective of social and economic sustainability of society. Coping with the crisis requires a fair and just allocation of resources needed to manage the crisis. The burden on any generation and group of people must not become unreasonably heavy.
The corona crisis has revealed areas where the welfare society is at risk of being broken and it is therefore necessary to focus most on the areas where wellbeing has been most affected by the pandemic.
According to the expert group, social reforms aimed to actually implement equity and equality must not now be halted. On the contrary, it is necessary to strengthen gender equality and human rights in this situation.
A strong civil society helps to overcome the crisis
The expert group emphasises the importance to safeguard the resources of civil society. Organisations and other civil society actors are looking for and representing those who are at risk of being overlooked by the official service system. They give a voice to those who often remain silent, and they strengthen democratic opportunities to influence as well as participation in decision-making.
During restrictions, organisations and other civil society actors have responded flexibly and rapidly to support those who were worst hit by the crisis, thus building social integrity and trust in everyday life.
Job opportunities for special groups must be ensured
With regard to employment, young people, older people, immigrants, persons with disabilities and persons with partial work ability, women and self-employed persons are particularly risk groups during the pandemic.
To avoid further segregation of the labour market, employment measures must ensure job opportunities for these groups and be careful not to create polarisation between various population groups.
Regular information on the impacts of wellbeing and equality to support decisions
The pandemic is changing society, but it is not yet clear what its global impacts are and how permanent they will be.
The expert group proposes, first, the creation of a national model and criteria so that the impact of decisions on wellbeing and equality could be assessed. This can be based on the criteria created by both the OECD and the Wellbeing Economy Governments network.
Secondly, the group proposes that Statistics Finland build a permanent monitoring tool that regularly produces wellbeing development data to support decision-making.
Thirdly, the group proposes that an independent evaluation council for wellbeing policy be established in Finland with sufficient preparatory resources.
Archbishop Emeritus Kari Mäkinen, Chair of the expert group (requests for contact via [email protected])