Here are a few issues I would like to raise for discussion and which I hope the Oulu City Council will work towards over the next four years.

1. Working together for local integration of immigrants

Ensuring equal access to services and opportunities is first and foremost the primary aim for the local integration of immigrants.

Why this is so important

With the increased number of immigrants to Finland in recent years, it is important that immigrants are offered services and activities that would enable them to integrate well into the Finnish society.

The integration of immigrants and foreigners is a continuous two-way process whereby the society is transforming as the population becomes more diverse and the immigrants acquire knowledge and skills required to thrive in the society.  This requires a considerable amount of efforts and dedication across all levels of the government, however, such efforts can translate to several real benefits for everyone involved (locals, immigrants, government).

For local integration of immigrants to succeed, everybody needs to be committed and immigrants should be accepted as members of the society. 

If successfully integrated, immigrants can enormously contribute to the society in diverse ways especially economically and socially.

Problems caused by lack of integration or inadequate integration

The following points are some of the problems encountered when there is a lack of integration or inadequate local integration of immigrants. They include:

  • Language barrier
  • Unemployment
  • Underemployment
  • Lack of awareness on how the society operates
  • Inability to understand the legal system due to language inadequacies or lack of education
  • Inability to access vital information necessary for success and growth
  • Inadequate knowledge and skills needed in the society
  • Lack of interest in local politics

How can local integration of immigrants happen

Integration needs to happen where people are, for example at their workplaces, at their neighborhood, educational institutions, place of hobbies, public spaces, shops, and any place they spend their free time.

The followings are some ways in which local integration of immigrants can be achieved:

  • Establishing education responses to address segregation and providing an equitable path to professional growth.
  • Better pairing immigrants skills with local job opportunities.
  • Comprehensive language classes to any immigrants that needs it.
  • Improving the coordination of integration policies.
  • Improving the coherence of integration policies to address the needs of immigrants.
  • Accessing and the effective use of financial resources  at local levels to support migrant immigration.
  • Integration policies should be regularly updated to adequately address changes over time.
  • Increasing the capacity of civil  service to respond to the needs of immigrants.

2. Making families with children a priority

Families with children are the basis of the survival of a nation. Prioritizing families with children in decision making by the government goes a long way to ensuring that the needs of the next generation are met and satisfied. Families with children should be entitled to widest possible protection and support. 

In every society, the role of families serves as a basic social unit, hence there is a need to give adequate attention to families with children in development efforts.

How can making families with children a priority happen

Here are a few examples of how prioritizing families with children can happen:

  • Poverty eradication: Fighting poverty is one of the fundamental tasks of the government to improve the quality of life for underprivileged families. Every child needs to have access to the basic human needs (food, shelter, and clothing). In addition, they should have access to quality education and adequate childcare and family allowances that can help them develop well mentally, physically and socially.
  • Introduction of family-friendly income tax system.
  • Smaller day care groups and access to early childhood education by all children irrespective of their parents status or present situation.
  • Family leave: improved reforms that would adequately address the needs of both parents and children.
  • Raising compulsory school age and provision of adequate support to children in need of it.
  • Provision of adequate resources to promote the wellbeing of children.

3. Striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs

Sustainable development can be described as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

The Following SDGs are of utmost interest to me:

Goal 5: Combating gender inequality

Goal 10: Defending human rights and equality

Goal 13: Environmental protection and halting climate change