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Provincial Election: Why Should Students Care?
This Thursday, June 7, people across the province will be going to the polls to vote in the 42nd Ontario general election. For many voters, it can be daunting or even tedious to navigate the endless stream of political media coverage. And for students, between classes, projects, and work, there are a million reasons why you might feel like elections are too much hassle to even bother voting. We asked VP Education Matthew Gerrits: why should students care about voting in the provincial election?
“If you don’t vote and express your opinion, then someone else will,” he said, and those opinions may not line up with what’s important to you as a student.
The Provincial government is responsible for important policies and regulations that affect students, like tuition costs and financial aid (OSAP), mental health services, campus safety, transit, and teaching quality, to name a few. For example, Ontario universities were mandated to adopt sexual violence prevention policies as a result of the provincial government listening to the voices of students, Gerrits said.
And that means students have power – not just in the polls, but also to affect and shape policy.
“[Politicians] need to know that if students don’t like policies the government brings in, students are going to get out to the polls and voice those dissatisfactions,” Gerrits said.
What about those of us who feel too uninformed to cast a vote? With the amount of information out there, it can seem overwhelming read through all of the platforms, learn about each party and then your local candidates in order to make a choice. While that can seem intimidating, you don’t need to be a political science enthusiast or expert to vote – every voter’s voice deserves to be heard, Gerrits said.
"It’s important to know that, as someone who is eligible to vote, [everyone’s] experiences are valid,” he said. “You don’t need to have put in twenty hours of looking at platforms. Very few people do. If you think you’re too ill-informed to vote, know that there are many people who vote with just as little confidence.”
Don't feel pressured to know everything. Consider the things that are important to you and learn each party's stance on those particular topics.
There are a lot of great resources available for voters who are looking to get informed on issues that will help them make a decision. Gerrits suggests following politicians on Twitter, checking out Canadian news sources for articles and discussions on relevant topics, or using a tool called Vote Compass.
“[It’s] something I see a lot of my friends using. It asks you a bunch of questions and then puts you on a chart that tells you which party you’re closest to,” he says. “What I find really valuable is the questions that it asks really makes you think about what policies you do and don’t support.”
“The more… that students vote, the more people [in government] have to take into account students when they’re making decisions,” Gerrits said.
Remember: students voices’ can and do make a difference. Show the next provincial government that our needs matter by voting on June 7.
Want to know more about where our local candidates stand on issues relating to post-secondary education? Check out our debate recap.