Roundtable: What Wynne means for the youth vote

How the Liberals plan for the province would affect student voters 

Kathleen Wynne.
Photo illustration by Tessa Warburton

The Ontario Liberal’s campaign slogan, “care over cuts,” is indicative of the party’s continued commitment to ensuring both access to equal opportunities and affordable living.

Incumbent MP Kathleen Wynne—who’s running for a second term this coming June—has delivered many progressive changes since assuming office in 2013, many of which have positively favored students and young people in Ontario.  

The Liberal government’s OHIP+ policy, for instance, gave way for individuals aged 25 and under to receive their prescription medication at no cost. The program has removed the potential financial barriers which would have prevented young people from receiving the medication they need—and deserve. With prescriptions being provided free of charge, students who are financially insecure are now able to allocate their money to other necessary resources such as textbooks, rent and food.

Acting as the first province in Canada to provide young people with free prescriptions, the Liberals have taken an important step critical to enacting a possible national pharma-care program.

Contrastingly, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford’s plan to cut essential programs that Ontarians rely on every day will mean that thousands of young people will lose access to free medication.

A further successful area of policy which the Liberals have hit on is OSAP, which has reduced post-secondary tuition costs and made it free for more than 225,000 Ontarian students.

The Liberal government has completely remodeled the assistance program to ensure aid is available for those who need it most. For instance, tuition in Ontario is absolutely free for students whose family income is less than $50,000—enabling more equal opportunities for all young people while still sustaining economic growth.

As part of Bill 148—the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act—Ontario saw its minimum wage increased from $11.40 to $14 an hour last January, and will again experience an increase to $15 an hour in 2019.

While other parties have been critical of the wage hike, it will serve to especially help students who have struggled to save money throughout their post-secondary careers. In saving, students will be better off financially when entering the workforce upon graduating.  

Another noteworthy component of the Liberal’s platform is their $2.1 billion investment in mental health care. The commitment, which stands as the largest provincial investment in mental health in Canadian history, will result in quicker and improved access to mental health services for every Ontarian.

Although attending university can be the most rewarding time of a young life, it also tends to be the most confusing and stressful. This investment is an investment into students’ mental well-being. It will not only grant easier access to improved wellness services, but also improve the conversation and stigmas surrounding it.

Being a student living with a mental illness myself, I can attest to the changes that need to be made in our mental health system—and current provincial government fights for that.

The Liberals are committed not only to ensuring that everybody’svoice are heard, but seriously taken into consideration when making decisions about the future of Ontario. And as young voters, we hold the future in our hands.

Kaitlin is a third-year Political Studies major with a certificate in law. 

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