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Home NATIONALHuovinen defends elderly care services cut
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File picture of the Minister of Health and Social Services, Susanna Huovinen. Photo - Lehtikuva.
Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen on Saturday defended the government’s structural reform package for reducing elderly care services.
She said shifting institutional care services to home care services for the elderly people would help the country economically.
“We have calculated that had we abolished institutional care for the elderly in 2007, we would have saved up to half a billion euros,” she said after the council meeting of  Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (social democratic party - SDP) in Salo.
The reform package, announced by the government on Friday, was reviewed at the council of the SDP, the second biggest component of the six-party ruling alliance, where councillors expressed their opinions in favour or against.
The minister pointed out that the package was aimed at saving €300m. He said not just for the sake of savings, the money would be needed for bringing on structural changes as well. 
File picture of elderly person. Photo - Lehtikuva.
She said €200m would be needed for investment, which would be spent for building accommodation facilities for the home care and caretaker services for the elderly people.
Houvinen said the government was looking to take new measures from January.
The minister also pointed out that the relevant law had already endeavoured to move the senior citizens out of institutional care.
“I see that the decision on the elderly care law is speeding up,” the minister said, adding that she had not considered the task impossible.
The SDP council meeting will resume on Sunday and the party high-ups will finalise the name of its candidates for the European Parliament Elections scheduled for mid-2014.
On Friday, the government announced the structural reform package, curtailing budget from various sectors including the elderly care services.
The six-party alliance government expressed hopes that the tight structural reform package – prepared by reducing allocations for the elderly services and regional library network , and hiking childcare fees – would help the country face the tough economic situation.
The reforms, including issues like work leave, will continue together with reforms in the labour market organisation and the measures will lead to more strict terms and conditions, sources said.
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