a, Opinion

Campus Conversation: Canadian federal election

Liberal McGill

It is rare and valuable when a party, a leader, and a platform seek to engage realistically in youth and student issues—not merely pay lip service to them, or tokenize their advocates. Youth issues are represented very clearly in Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada’s platform.

Youth employment is a fundamental component of the Liberal platform. The youth unemployment rate is currently 13.1 per cent—almost double the national average. This has led to about 170,000 less young people in the workforce than prior to the 2008 recession. As students ourselves, we are constantly looking ahead to our life after McGill, and want to see a job market that is open to embrace us when we graduate and seek employment.

Trudeau’s plan for youth employment promises 120,000 new opportunities in the first three years—three times more jobs than those promised by the NDP. This plan’s quantitative measurement, unlike initiatives introduced by other parties in this election, does not end with a number of jobs promised or specific budget funding allotted. Trudeau has committed to invest $300 million annually in a renewed youth employment strategy that will ensure this promise is met.

If elected, Trudeau has alsopledged to increase the number of jobs funded by the Canada Summer Jobs program, and invest $40 million annually to create more co-op placements for students. A cumulative $1.5 billion will be invested in youth employment through this strategy.

The Liberals understand the importance of investing in our country as a whole and fostering economic partnerships across provinces. This is why the party’s platform has designated $25 million annually for a youth services program that would send young people across the country to gain work experience. The platform will increase the number of federally funded jobs under the Canada Summer Jobs program to 35,000.

Trudeau and his team also understand that economic and environmental prosperity go hand in hand. This is why he has promised to create an additional 5000 jobs for young people as guides and interpreters at Parks Canada.

Although not specifically targeted at youth, the Liberal tax plan is important for students to consider, as we in the coming years, will begin working, paying taxes, and potentially having families of our own. The plan, in essence, will cut taxes for the middle class, and instead shift the burden to the wealthiest individuals in our society.

Unlike the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberals also understand that while the economy is of extreme importance, it is not the only issue Canadians care about. Democratic reform—for which Team Trudeau has a 32-point “Real Change” plan—is an issue that students are particularly interested in. “We need to know that when we cast a ballot, it counts, that when we vote, it matters,” Trudeau said at the unveiling of this platform policy.

By Greta Hoaken, Liberal McGill.

Learn more about the Liberal campaign at liberal.ca.


Conservative McGill

There’s a popular misconception that Conservatives do not care about student issues, but this could not be further from the truth. The Conservative Party of Canada’s approach to dealing with student issues is much different than that of the other parties, because it sees students as individual, unique people with their own hopes and aspirations for the future instead of a monolithic voting bloc that can be satiated with lip service and handouts. The goal for tackling student issues, if the Conservatives remain in power this October, is to ensure that when future students graduate, they will be able to enter the working world quickly and have a prosperous future to look forward to.

The Conservative Party’s priorities will be to encourage economic growth by keeping taxes low. This will encourage job creators to remain in Canada and to open up new job opportunities for students who are fresh out of university, and also preserve Canadian jobs that already exist for the next generation. The Conservative Party would also allow students who are working to put more money in their Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs)—something the other parties promise to undo. This is essential in order to allow students to save more money and provide them with the beginnings of a financially secure future going ahead in their lives.

The Conservative Party of Canada is also thinking farther ahead than just the immediate future by having Prime Minister Stephen Harper announce a plan to encourage home ownership for an additional 700,000 Canadians by the year 2020. Although this may seem far off to some, recent graduates will be able to benefit from this plan. Many young people concerned about their ability to become financially independent in the years following graduation should see this as a great opportunity—including McGillians.

The Conservative Party believes that it is the only party that has a concrete plan to assist students in meaningful, positive ways. The Conservative Party have a proven track record of steady economic management, low taxes, and investment in the individual.

The Conservative plan will get college graduates out of their parents’ homes and into the workforce faster and in larger numbers than the other parties. It will ensure that graduates don’t become stuck waiting for their chance to gain independence by investing in students’ futures. The potential result if Canadians choose not to re-elect a Conservative government is one of job-killing taxes, lower take-home pay, deficit spending sprees, and increasing debt levels.

This is a watershed election and students have an important role to play in deciding their own future. They can support short-term investment at the cost of increased debt and interest payments in the future, or they can support a party with a long-term plan for the future.

By Daniel Braz, Principal Secretary of the Conservative Association of McGill University

Learn more about the conservative campaign at conservative.ca.


NDP McGill

The New Democratic Party (NDP)—the most gender-balanced party running in this election and with the youngest group of MPs in Parliament—has youth issues at its core.

If elected, an NDP government will eliminate interest on student loans and create 74,000 new non-repayable grants for students in need. The NDP also promises to combine this with a crackdown on unpaid internships to prevent the exploitation of youth workers. Work deserves to be paid with a salary. Experience and a reference letter are great, but they don’t pay the rent. McGill students might remember a similar initiative championed by NDP McGill last year, focusing on stricter rules for unpaid internships at McGill, as well as at the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

Four McGill students were elected to Parliament for the NDP in the last election, and they have helped keep students’ priorities front and centre. The NDP, if elected, will phase in a $15 federal minimum wage, bringing those working in federally regulated industries closer to a living salary since the elimination of the federal minimum wage by the Liberals in 1996. A similar $15 minimum wage is being implemented now by Alberta’s new NDP government, and will be fully in place by 2018.

In addition, an NDP government will invest $100 million to improve youth mental health in Canada, an issue that is reaching crisis levels.

The NDP would create 40,000 paid internships and jobs for young people by requiring large federal infrastructure projects to take on paid apprentices. The NDP would also work directly with the private sector and municipalities to make sure a diverse set of jobs are available for students and recent graduates.

To complement jobs, Tom Mulcair’s NDP have promised to help cities build 10,000 new affordable housing units. The NDP recognizes that safe and affordable housing is a right, not a privilege, and will work to undo the damage to our social housing that has happened since the previous Liberal government eliminated the Canadian National Housing Strategy.

Two NDP initiatives aim to assist student health. The first is more affordable prescription drugs through bulk buying, a program that is much needed to complete our universal healthcare system. The second is improved access to Employment Insurance (EI). If students work, they pay into EI, but chances are that they, like 60 per cent of Canadian workers, can’t access it if they lose their job. The NDP will expand access to EI so that it continues to be a safety net for all workers who are temporarily unemployed.

Finally, students play a key role in tackling climate change as it remains one of the greatest threats to the youth generation. Students on this campus and from around the world are demanding immediate action. An NDP government will fight catastrophic climate change that endangers all of our futures by setting specific greenhouse gas reduction targets and meeting them through a Canada-wide cap and trade system, a plan praised by environmental groups. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have set concrete targets.

The NDP made history in Canada by electing the youngest caucus with the most female MPs in history. With McGill’s help, the NDP will break that record again and bring youth voices and youth issues to Ottawa.

By Malaya Powers and Jacob Schweda, Co-Presidents, NDP McGill

Learn more about the NDP campaign at NDP.ca.


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