Government proposal: Amendments are proposed to the Integration Act and the Reception Act to ensure services for those fleeing Ukraine
There are more than 38,000 people in Finland who have sought temporary protection having fled Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine. In order to secure their access to integration services, the Government proposes that the central government could pay compensation to municipalities and wellbeing services counties for service provision. The amendments to the Reception Act would specify how the reception service provision would end when beneficiaries of temporary protection are assigned to a municipality of residence.
So far, 38,000 people have fled the war from Ukraine to Finland and applied for a residence permit on the basis of temporary protection. Temporary protection is based on an EU directive which has been applied in Finland for the first time due to the war in Ukraine.
To ensure that beneficiaries of temporary protection have access to services in all situations, the government proposal submitted to Parliament includes amendments to two acts: the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration (the Integration Act) and the Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection and on the Identification of and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings (the Reception Act).
“As the war continues, it has become clear that most of those who have fled Ukraine will stay in Finland for a longer period. This legislative proposal will secure access to services for beneficiaries of temporary protection and ensure that municipalities and wellbeing services counties have sufficient funds to finance service provision,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.
Beneficiaries of temporary protection normally have access to reception services
Currently, beneficiaries of temporary protection usually access reception services. As a rule, they do not have a right to a municipality of residence in Finland because they do not meet the conditions of the Municipality of Residence Act. In the main, only beneficiaries whose family member already has a municipality of residence in Finland have been able to register for a municipality of residence.
From spring 2023 onwards, beneficiaries of temporary protection may, however, have a right to a municipality of residence if they have lived in Finland continuously for at least a year and their residence permits have been extended. If they meet these criteria, they can apply to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency for a municipality of residence.
Compensation paid to municipalities and wellbeing services counties for service provision
When a person is assigned to a municipality of residence, the municipality, the wellbeing services county and other authorities have a greater role in providing their services. The current Integration Act does not allow the central government to make specified government transfers to municipalities and wellbeing services counties to compensate for the services they provide to beneficiaries of temporary protection.
In order to secure services that promote the integration of beneficiaries of temporary protection, the Government proposes that specific government transfers can be made to municipalities and wellbeing services counties for organising the services if the beneficiary has a municipality of residence. The costs would be reimbursed on the same grounds as for the services provided to other groups, such as beneficiaries of international protection.
Amendments would increase equality in service provision
According to the proposal, the legal provisions on assigning persons to municipalities would be extended to apply to beneficiaries of temporary protection. The proposal clarifies the authorities’ responsibilities related to assigning people to municipalities and amends the Integration Act to correspond better to the current practice of how people are assigned to municipalities.
The Government also proposes that a child or young person who has arrived in Finland without a parent or guardian and who is a beneficiary of temporary protection receive housing and support services, similarly to a quota refugee who has arrived as an unaccompanied minor or a child or young person receiving international protection.
Legislative amendments would enter into force in early March 2023
The proposal is related to the budget proposal for 2023 and is intended to be considered with it. The Acts are scheduled to enter into force on 1 March 2023.
Mira Karppanen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 047 293