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Yle fact-check: How true are party leader statements on immigration, employment?

Yle continues to check statements made by political leaders as the campaign intensifies for June's local elections.

Halla-aho ja Essayah
Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho and Christian Democrats chair Sari Essayah.

Did the leaders of Finland's main political parties stick to the facts during interviews and debates in the lead up to local elections polling day on 13 June? Yle continues the fact-check series by examining statements made by the party chairs on issues such as immigration, employment, youth marginalisation and the government’s climate goals.

Each statement is rated as being either true, false or 'in-between' (meaning it was not completely true or false) and we also include an explanation for each rating.

Yle’s election compass, available in English, aims to help voters find candidates whose views most closely align with their own.

Halla-aho: One third of income, housing benefit recipients are immigrants

Statement: "The government supports an immigration policy that results in more than a third of income and housing support clients being foreigners," Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho said on Yle's party leader interviews (Ylen puheenjohtajatentti), 18 May.

Rating: False.

Explanation: Halla-aho's claim that one third of the people receiving housing and income support in Finland are immigrants is not true.

Data provided to Yle by state social security institution Kela shows that about 15 percent of the recipients of general housing support were immigrants in 2018, which included many students among that number. In total, more than half a million people receive housing support in Finland.

In relation to income support, immigrants do account for a larger share of adult recipients of this benefit in proportion to their share of the population. In 2018, about 20 percent of the recipients of income support were immigrants, but this is one fifth of the population and not one third as Halla-aho stated.

According to Kela, the claim that one third of all recipients of housing support are immigrants could only be true in some individual municipalities.

The All Points North podcast interviewed party leaders in English during the spring. You can listen to Jussi Halla-aho's interview using the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed. Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Marin: Employment pilot project was a success

Statement: "The Ministry of Finance has estimated that the municipal labour model will have a significant impact on the labour market. To my recollection, according to the Ministry of Finance's estimate, it was quite large, it was several thousand, even up to ten thousand, which means that it had a really significant impact there," Social Democratic Party chair and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said during Yle's party leader interview on 20 May.

Rating: True.

Explanation: The government launched a municipal pilot project aimed at increasing employment during the spring, in which the services and tasks of the regional TE offices were transferred from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment to the municipalities.

According to an estimate provided by the Ministry of Finance, the municipal project led to about 6,600 people finding work, which is in line with Marin's estimate during the leader interview.

The employment services are set to be fully transferred to all municipalities by 2024, when the state also intends to create a funding model for municipalities to further promote employment.

According to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the model improves employment by matching state and municipal resources, skills and services.

Prime Minister Marin spoke about minorities, Covid restrictions and climate change among other topics during her interview with All Points North. Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Essayah: Higher rate of unemployment among childless men than mothers

Statement: "Looking at the employment statistics, we currently have a worse employment situation for childless men. That is, childless men of a similar age - their employment rate is lower than that of women with children. They are at home with the help of home care allowance,” Christian Democrats leader Sari Essayah said during her interview with Yle on 19 May.

Rating: False

Explanation: According to both Kela and the Family Federation of Finland, there are currently no statistics available on the employment rate of mothers receiving home care allowance, which is the benefit paid by Kela when a child under 3 years of age is looked after at home.

According to Statistics Finland, the most up-to-date information on this issue can be found in the data agency's Labour Force Survey from 2018, which found that the employment rate of all mothers in 2018 was 77 percent, regardless of the age of the child. The employment rate for childless men aged 20-59 was also the same: 77 percent.

The survey further found that the employment rate of mothers varies according to the age of the child: 58 percent of mothers of children aged 1–2 years had a job while 84 percent of mothers of children aged 3–6 years were employed.

According to Kela's statistical specialist, the employment rate of mothers is lower than that of childless men in some cases, but the age groups are not completely proportional to each other.

Sari Essayah spoke about how her party's values interact with local politics during her interview with All Points North. Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Ohisalo: Finland on course to achieve climate goals

Statement: "We have taken some common goals forward during this governmental term. In fact, half of the measures needed to reduce emissions have already been decided," Green Party chair Maria Ohisalo at Yle's election debate, 24 May.

Rating: True.

Explanation: Finland's government has set an ambitious goal of making the country carbon-neutral by 2035, and Ohisalo said during the debate that half of the necessary measures needed to achieve this objective have already been decided.

Markku Ollikainen, chair of Finland's Climate Panel, tells Yle that it is difficult to accurately assess the effectiveness of the measures, but the panel can look at the emission reduction measures outlined by the government.

For example, the government has promised to at least halve the use of peat by 2030, halve transport emissions by the same year, and also reduce emissions from residential heating. An energy tax reform will be used to promote the use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuel emissions. In addition, the government has called on industry and agriculture to draw up emission reduction roadmaps towards carbon neutrality.

Halving the use of peat could even be achieved ahead of schedule, which the Climate Panel estimates will bring about a significant reduction in emissions. With regard to transport emissions, the government has estimated that reductions have already been achieved, and more effective measures are planned for the autumn. The Climate Panel said the impact of reducing emissions from residential heating is much more challenging to assess.

Based on the climate panel’s assessment, it could be argued that the government is roughly halfway towards achieving the target. However, Ohisalo's statement is at a more optimistic level than the minimum assessment. Nevertheless, the Green Party leader's claim can be considered true.

Maria Ohisalo spoke about issues such as the home care allowance and climate change during her interview with All Points North. Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Andersson: Youth marginalisation at same level since turn of century

Statement: “We have had a youth guarantee programme, which aims to prevent the marginalisation of young people. Nevertheless, the proportion of those without a high school education has remained at 15 percent throughout the 21st century," Left Alliance chair and Minister of Education Li Andersson speaking at her leader interview on 26 May.

Rating: True.

Explanation: Statistics Finland's data on the educational structure of the population supports Andersson's statement. In 2019, there were 103,166 people aged 20–29 who did not have a high school education, which is 15 percent of the age group. The data further revealed that 18 percent of men and 13 percent of women, aged 20-29, did not go beyond the ninth grade.

Statistics Finland's chief actuary Mika Witting confirmed to Yle that the percentage has remained at the same level throughout the 21st century.

For example, the agency's data on people born in 1995 showed that 14 percent did not have a high school diploma in 2019, by the age of 24, of which 16 percent were men and 13 percent were women.

More broadly, Statistics Finland's data found that the highest educated age group in Finnish history are people born between 1975 and 1979, as 88 percent have a high school diploma and 47 percent have a higher education degree.

Li Andersson told All Points North that the educational divide between different socio-economic groups grew further during the pandemic. Article continues after audio.

Left Alliance chair Li Andersson on the All Points North Podcast Audio: Yle News

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