The 2022 Ontario election is quickly approaching, and in order to vote, you must be a Canadian citizen, a resident of the province, and at least 18 years old on election day. This effectively keeps overseas students in Canada from voting, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on the campaigns.
Simply said, politics has an impact on policy and how things are done. The Ontario election on June 2, 2022, will determine the government and members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the following term. Consider it a smaller-scale version of the Canadian parliament that can debate and pass bills at the provincial level. Learning how governments work in Canada will make you reconsider your apathy toward what’s going on in Ontario. While the federal government deals with national and international issues, the Canadian Constitution has parts describing authorities that are solely controlled by the country’s ten provinces.
They include critical topics like education and schools, healthcare and hospitals, public transit, business regulation, and property laws, all of which have a direct impact on the quality of life for all people, regardless of immigration status.
Fee increases in recent years must have hit you hard as an international student. According to Statistics Canada, tuition fees for overseas students in Canada have grown by up to 5% each year across all provinces. International tuition has fueled the bulk of post-secondary revenue in Ontario alone, which has increased by 107 percent in only four years.
The current Progressive Conservative (PC) government of Premier Doug Ford has come under fire recently from opposition parties and media pundits for disregarding the issue of students in its pre-election provincial budget. This includes eliminating subsidies for overseas students enrolled in college degree programmes and cutting 685 million Canadian dollars from post-secondary fees.
Opposition parties such as the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party of Canada have offered increased funding for education instead of the PC government’s planned multibillion-dollar motorway projects. Both parties have promised to make colleges more accessible, improve the graduation-to-workforce transition, and enhance funding for safe and inclusive campuses.
With a nationwide housing and rental crisis, rising living costs will be at the top of voters’ minds as they head to the polls. Under post-pandemic inflation, international students in Canada have struggled to keep up with growing expenditures and high rents. Currently, it is estimated that 4% of post-secondary students in Canada are homeless or living in unsustainable conditions. Among running candidates, Stephen Del Duca’s Liberal Party leadership has prominently placed housing at the heart of its electoral programme. The party’s plan to affordable housing, based on its campaign slogan “A Place to Grow,” involves restoring rent control across the province, making renting “fairer, safer, and more affordable,” and developing new co-op housing.
In the previous two years, Ontarians have been outraged with the Ford government’s approach to the pandemic due to its failure on numerous fronts. The issue of healthcare took centre stage in Monday evening’s election discussion, with opposition party leaders questioning the premier’s decisions to decrease nurses’ salary and reopen in early 2021, despite the fact that cases remained high.
Due to isolation, difficulty in online learning shortened work hours, and job loss, abroad students’ mental health suffered greatly during lockdowns in Ontario. On this front, NDP leader Andrea Horwath has proposed a comprehensive plan that includes universal mental healthcare for citizens, the establishment of a new organisation called Mental Health Ontario to better serve people’s needs, and the allocation of CA$17 million to strengthen crisis response. Employment, commitment to gender justice, and access to public services are further topics of concern. As taxpayers who are unable to vote, the least international students in Canada can do is pay attention to topics that may affect their lives in Ontario in the future years.
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