On Sept. 26 there were stories and opinion articles in the papers about what young doctors want, initial impressions of the 2020 budget, free higher education, a court ruling being overturned to allow stay at home same-sex parents to have health insurance, and an alien crab found in Pärnu.
All links in Estonian unless otherwise stated.
Time to listen to young doctors
Head of the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Tartu, Ruth Kalder, and family doctor, Martha Velgan, write in Postimees that it is time young doctors are listened too. As reported previously by ERR News there is a crisis with hiring family doctors as many of them move towards retirement age. Kalder and Velgan say that while doctors have been working with the Ministry of Social Affairs for several years, their ideas have not been implemented and building new health centers on their own will not solve the problem. They write that the old system which makes doctors business owners and responsible for their own clinics needs to be upgraded, as young doctors no longer want to work in this way or revert back to the previous system. Having spoken to young doctors themselves, they find they want the ability to take holidays, be ill, and receive new training, all of which is a problem if doctors work in rural areas, they would also like to deal with less bureaucracy and not suffer from burnout. "Instead of going back in time we could look for and test new and more flexible ways of overcoming the problems and take into account the views of young people," they say.
Newspapers unimpressed by 2020 budget
Writing in morning editorials, daily newspapers Postimees, and Eesti Päevaleht were unimpressed with the final draft of the budget. Postimees pointed out that no money had been set aside for farmers and that an increase from 0.71 percent to 0.74 percent for science was "purely cosmetic." The newspaper suggested if it needed to find money it should look again at free public transport or free higher education.
Eesti Päevaleht said there had been no big surprises and that people who were looking for them were disappointed. It called the second pillar pension reforms "short-sighted" and said it will only temporarily boost the budget. The paper called for future solutions that would help the country and it's people instead.
Both papers mentioned that as there was no increase to the €500 tax exemption, pensioners will now be taxed 20 percent on everything they receive over that amount, essentially wiping out the €7 extraordinary increase they received. Next year the average pension will be €528 per month.
Does Estonia need free higher education?
Students Johanna Viik and Trine Tamm question in Eesti Päevaleht whether free education is needed in Estonia, and argue that it is. They call on the state to raise the level for funding for education to 1.5 percent of GDP, saying higher education should be prioritized and offered for free across Estonia. They say making students pay for higher education will push out poorer students and cause a decline in graduates from Estonian universities. Currently, if students study at university in Estonian it is usually free.
Same-sex couples allowed health insurance
Newspaper Õhtuleht reported that a decision to by the Tallinn Administrative Court to deny a lesbian woman health insurance while raising a child has been overturned after she challenged the court. A couple named only as Marina and Jelena have been in a relationship for a decade, they signed a partnership agreement in 2016, and then Marina officially adopted Jelena's son, with both women being named on the birth certificate. After Marina's maternity leave ended she went back to work and Jelena stayed at home to look after their baby, under Estonian law a stay at home parent can usually obtain health insurance, but this was denied to Jelena because she was part of a lesbian couple. The couple contacted the Estonian Human Rights Center and challenged the court's verdict. In September, the court found that parents who enter into a cohabitation agreement should be treated in the same way as married parents, and the decision was overturned and described as unconstitutional.
Alien life in the Baltic Sea
Pärnu Postimees (PP) reported that a crab not seen in the area for 90 years was caught by fishermen in the river next to Pärnu city center bridge. Ichthyologist at Estonian Maritime Institute, Heli Shpilev, told the newspaper it is an adult male Chinese mitten crab. She said the crab poses no threat to native crustaceans in the Baltic Sea as it cannot reproduce because the sea is brackish. There are photos and a video if you click the link.
Editor: Andrew Whyte