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PM Marin calls for government unity over controversial Patient Safety bill

The Left Alliance parliamentary group has threatened to vote against the proposed law change.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) speaking in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Image: © European Union 2022 - Source : EP
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Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has called for unity among her government's coalition partners over the proposed introduction of a Patient Safety Act.

The five governing parties failed to reach an agreement on Saturday regarding the controversial bill, which aims to safeguard essential treatment of patients in the event of industrial action by healthcare workers. Under the law, nurses could be forced to return to work during strikes to ensure patient safety.

Speaking to journalists during a trip to Strasbourg, Marin said she hoped that her coalition partners will respect the "commonly agreed rules of the game".

"The government is united on this and everyone will vote for this law," she said, adding she had discussed the issue with the Left Alliance's chair, education minister Li Andersson.

The Left Alliance's parliamentary group has threatened to vote against the proposed law change, which it says it finds particularly problematic.

"I certainly understand the concerns that the Left Alliance and other groups have about the law, but the committee can always make additions to the law. The Constitutional Affairs Committee is also considering the matter, but the timetable is tight," Marin said.

She also issued a message to healthcare workers, asking them not to become involved in strike action that could endanger people's lives and health. Marin further added that the Patient Safety Act needs to be passed into law in order to safeguard the lives and health of Finnish citizens in all circumstances.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) told his party's Demokraati newspaper on Monday that the government had reached an agreement on the proposed bill.

However, following this, the Left Alliance parliamentary group announced that it would not accept the law in its current form, saying it hoped Parliament's committees would make the necessary changes to the bill.

Andersson: State has "legal obligation" to act

Left Alliance leader Andersson said that the right to strike is extremely important to her party.

However, she added that people's lives must not be endangered by striking rights.

She said that this is why the government has a legal obligation to act and why Left Alliance MPs agree the bill should be submitted to Parliament.

"However, the Left Alliance parliamentary group has said that it has not signed off on the current content of the bill, as it hopes that the law could be made more precise during the parliamentary debate," she told reporters in Parliament.

Andersson also said she believes preparation of the bill was rushed and that there has not been sufficient time to assess its content. The draft bill must be submitted to Parliament on Tuesday 13 September in order to meet a parliamentary deadline.

"For this reason too, I hope that the parliamentary groups will be prepared to make changes to the bill during the parliamentary debate," she said, but did not take a position on whether her party's MPs would vote for or against the bill in Parliament.

"I assume that the MPs will evaluate the proposal once we know what the final form will be," Andersson said.

The Left Alliance leader also clarified that there had been no discussion within the party about whether they would quit the coalition over this issue.

"Of course, other government parliamentary groups are frustrated that it has not yet been possible to reach a consensus on the content of this bill," she said.

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