Copyright © 2020 Federation of Students, University of Waterloo operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
Elections 2019: What now?
Finally, it’s all over and done. If you were one of the roughly 17.9 million Canadians that cast their ballots either on Election Day or ahead of time in advance polling, you were there to have your voice heard. Although the voter turnout was less than the last election at almost 65% (compared to 68.5% from the 2015 election), this election saw many changes.
So, if you haven’t already heard, the incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party was re-elected due to winning the largest number of seats (157) in the House of Commons. However, interestingly enough, Trudeau and the Liberals fell shy of both the 170 required seats for a majority government and the popular vote. In fact, it was Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada who gained the largest percentage of votes with 34.4%. This has become a controversial topic for many Canadians where Canada’s "first past the post" electoral system is under question.
What happened in Waterloo?
By living in Waterloo, we're part of the Waterloo electoral district or riding. This year’s local election was made up of the following candidates: Bardish Chagger (Liberals), Jerry Zhang (Conservatives), Lori Campbell (NDP), Kirsten Wright (Green Party), and Erika Traub (People’s Party). After a 70.8% voter turnout and 48% of the popular vote, the Liberal incumbent candidate Bardish Chagger was re-elected in our riding. Chagger, who was also formerly the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, has been very active in the community with organizations such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre and the Global Skills Conference.
What does this mean for you?
While Chagger is working towards the larger platform of the Liberal party, her personal focus is on fostering diversity and providing opportunities for social and economic engagement. She is particularly aware of incorporating the role that technology and innovation play in our community (particularly with a university like ours). While the Liberal platform brands itself as one for the middle class, we wanted to highlight some of their platform points that will affect students the most. You can read their full platform on the Liberal website [external link].
The Liberal party has promised the following for students and education:
- Increase Canada Student Grants by 40%. That is money, which when you are receiving financial aid such as OSAP, you do not have to pay back. The Liberals are estimating that will net students an average of $1,200 more per year
- Extend the student-loan-repayment grace period (when you have to start paying back OSAP) to 2 years from 6 months and make the loans interest-free for that period
- Increase the threshold of which graduates have to start repaying loans from an annual income of $25,000 to $35,000
- Provide the alternative for new parents to pause their repayments until their youngest child turns five (interest-free)
- Create a National Infrastructure Fund to support major public transit projects and an additional $3 billion in public transit
- Maintain their National Housing Strategy to provide affordable housing
- Reduce cell phone bills by 25%
- Implement universal pharma care
- Create a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour which will rise with inflation
- Make citizenship applications free for permanent residents
This is what the latest election has brought both Waterloo and the nation. It will be interesting to see how the Liberals decide to move forward from here, which campaign promises they meet, and ultimately if they can make life for students like us, a bit easier.