In the midst of a global pandemic, rapidly changing climate, widespread financial concerns and significant racial disparity, this provincial election is especially crucial.
That is certainly the case for young people like myself, who have a significant stake in the outcomes of the election – both in the near and distant future.
Economic, taxation, education and healthcare issues are important in all levels of elections. But this year, certain areas will play a larger role than ever before because of the unique circumstances. There are also unprecedented issues, such as COVID-19 response and environmental policy, that will help decide my vote.
COVID-19 is an issue that is at the forefront of this election, and it’s not hard to see why it’s so important. Despite our province’s relative success in containing the virus compared to our neighbouring provinces, the results of the election will play a significant role in determining whether we stay on this path.
The elected government will carry out COVID-19 policies, including restrictions on gathering sizes, whether masks are mandatory and how the economy will continue to reopen in the following months and years to come. While the mortality rates are lower among young people compared to other age demographics, they still have family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues who are more susceptible to the virus. Thus, this is an issue that affects everyone.
Moreover, a recent United Nations study found that young people are among the most affected by the socio-economic impacts of the virus, due to the lack of access to education during the pandemic, higher risk of mental health concerns, and the long-term impacts of a global recession.
As a result, young people have a real reason to be concerned about how the provincial government decides to move forward in handling the pandemic, beyond just wanting to keep loved ones safe. In determining my vote, I’ll certainly be taking into consideration the parties that plan to put the health of people before the health of the economy.
A second key issue important to young people, and one that will play a large role in deciding my vote, is environmental policy. Climate change is not a new phenomenon, but the timeline to resolve this is getting shorter, and the younger generations will ultimately be the ones who have to face the consequences of today’s environmental policy.
This election comes at a critical juncture between environmental and economic policy, as the economic fallout of the pandemic — especially in the oil and gas industry — is raising questions about how we should reopen. Government investment during the pandemic has been crucial in propping up the oil and gas sector, as well as other heavily affected industries and businesses.
Likewise, the virus has also presented an opportunity to invest in the economy in a more sustainable way — by putting similar investments into developing our renewable energy sector, thus creating jobs, reducing our carbon footprint and lessening our dependence on an unstable oil and gas sector.
In this election, my vote will take into consideration the parties that are willing to take a more aggressive and bolder approach to investing in long-term environmental solutions as we begin to rebuild our economy.
These two issues, COVID-19 response and environmental policy, are incredibly important to me. Whether you agree with me on how we should address them or not, they are incredibly important issues for you, too.
That’s why it is essential for you to understand them and all the other countless issues that are at stake on Oct. 26. I encourage all of you to learn about the issues at play in the election, and exercise your right to have your voice heard. We have too much at stake to not vote.
Photo: Ammara Syeda | Photo Editor