# of times YOUTH was mentioned in the English language leaders debate: 0

Campaigns overlook issues important to young voters as they struggle under the weight of the pandemic

GenerationZ took the biggest hit from COVID-19 but Youthful Cities analysis shows federal parties still prioritize older votes in the 2021 election

Heading into the Canadian Federal Election, youth have been dealing with an enormous amount of pressure in addition to the continued impacts of the pandemic.

During the pandemic, youth saw: 

  • Greatest job loss*
  • Significant drop in overall health**

on top of:

  • Consistently saying they cannot afford to live in cities, which 87% of them call home 
  • Feeling the impending pressure of the climate crisis
  • Feeling less safe 

meanwhile, they are:

  • Directly engaged in social justice movements 
  • Fighting against racial injustice
  • 20% of the Canadian Electorate

Yet youth are often labelled as disengaged due to their lower voter turnout (53.9% in 2019 compared to 79.1% for 65-74 age demographic)

Number of voting stations open on university and college campuses for 2021 federal election: 0

*Statistics Canada

** Pivot Hub

Politicians need to step up their game and directly engage with youth by creating clear platforms that actually target youth issues directly. They need to show they can be held accountable for the actions/policies they propose. Simple mentions and clickbait are not enough. 
In response, Youthful Cities hired a group of youth analysts to comb through our Pivot Hub data, the English language leaders debate and all the major party platforms to help cut through the jargon and help youth voters make informed decisions about who to vote for. We just hope, for all Canadian’s sake, YOUTH VOTE. 

Based on our analysis our prediction for youth voter turnout in 2021: 51.2% (down 2.7%)

We should all be concerned by the lack of youth-directed engagement we are witnessing from the federal leaders. We are letting youth down and Canada will suffer in the short and long term as a result. 

Please see our analysis below

Do the federal parties have dedicated or targeted policies or programs for youth (young people, students)? 

The issues that youth prioritize 

  1. Affordability
  2. Jobs
  3. Climate change
  4. Public safety
  5. Public health
  6. Diversity and inclusion

*The entirety of this content was sourced through the candidate party platforms: Green, NDP, Liberal, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois as well as through Maclean’s federal election platform guide. Check out these platforms to read about general and non-youth-related policies being proposed.

*The table above and analysis below, are meant to highlight policies and programs that have been explicitly dedicated to youth, as outlined in the party platforms, specifically those relating to the 6 priority areas that youth identified in the Pivot Survey.

*Please note this analysis does not assess the quality or quantity of policies or programs. Each voter should review carefully.

Party Youth Targeted Platform Analysis

Bloc 

  • Le Bloc propose de faciliter le travail en région par le biais de crédits d’impôt pour les diplômés et les immigrants qui choisiront de s’installer hors des grands centres

Conservative 

N/A

Green 

  • Invest in the creation of new youth shelters in urban and small urban centers across the country
  • Remove shelter maximum stays for youth
  • Provide on-site and remote access guidance counselling and therapy for youth suffering from homelessness
  • Cancel all federally held student loan debt
  • Ensure all Indigenous youth have access to post-secondary education
  • Enhance access to graduate education, by tripling the number of Canada
    Graduate Scholarships available for master’s students and doubling the number available for PhD students
  • Work with provinces to offer preferential tariffs for youth using public transit systems

Liberal

  • Permanently eliminate the federal interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans
  • Increase the repayment assistance threshold to $50,000 for Canada Student Loan borrowers who are single
  • Combining the features of both an RRSP and a TFSA, this plan would allow young Canadians to set aside 100% of every dollar they earn up to $40,000 and shorten the time it takes to afford a down payment

NDP

  • Remove interest from federal student loans and introduce a targeted debt forgiveness program for graduates that will forgive up to $20,000 in student debt
  • Move away from loads and permanently double non-repayable Canada Student Grants
  • Support Indigenous youth and help them bridge the gap to post-secondary education through expanded financial assistance and increased educational opportunities for children who grew up in care, and distance education for rural and remote students 
  • young people are being forced to give up on the dream of ever owning their own house
    • Re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families
    • Give people a hand with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500

Bloc 

  • Mettre fin à l’abandon par l’assurance-emploi des jeunes mères lorsqu’elles perdent leur emploi à la fin de leur congé parental.

Conservative 

  • Increase Indigenous governance capacity by training young Indigenous leaders including through the Institute of Corporate Directors.
  • Launch the Canada Job Surge Plan – paying up to 50% of the salary of net new hires for six months following the end of CEWS. The government will pay at least 25% of the salary of a net new hire, with the subsidy increasing up to a maximum of 50% based on how long the new hire has been unemployed. The salary maximum will be the same as for CEWS.

Green 

  • Establish federal youth employment programs that would be active year-round
  • Establish a federal student minimum wage of $15 to provide parity with the general minimum wage
  • Develop a new working model that will allow for more young people to work remotely from home if it is their preference

Liberal

  • Create jobs for almost 30,000 young people. Build a national trails tourism strategy and increase youth employment opportunities in partnership with Destination Canada to enhance local economic development opportunities. 
  • Create training and work opportunities for as many as 28,000 young people so they can assist small and medium-sized businesses in adopting new technology
  • Provide funding of $30 million over 5 years to help promising graduate students, support the mentorship and development of younger researchers, and increase opportunities for Black Canadians in Canadian post-secondary institutions.
  • Create a new stream of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESS) to support 5000 opportunities a year for young people. This would help young Canadians with disabilities gain the skills, experience, and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market and build successful careers

NDP

  • Immediately ban unpaid internships outside of education programs. 

Bloc 

N/A

Conservative 

N/A

Green 

  • Green jobs training programs, such as the creation of a youth climate corps
  • Help youth looking to move into rural areas have access to land, property for sustainable farming
  • Boost apprentice program opportunities, specifically in sustainable fields 
  • Support the development of educational programs targeting sustainable degrees for rural/small-urban developments

Liberal 

N/A

NDP

  • Civilian Climate Corps would mobilize young people and create new jobs supporting conservation efforts and addressing the threat of climate change

Bloc 

  • Le Bloc Québécois proposera des peines mieux adaptées et plus sévères pour les crimes liés à la violence familiale et inscrira ce type de crimes en tant que facteur aggravant dans le Code criminel, modifiant également la Loi sur les jeunes contrevenants

Conservative 

N/A

Green

  • Collaborate with provincial partners and communities to invest in youth mental health, education, opportunities, and success, in order to decrease the involvement of youth in the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on communities that have traditionally been either at greater risk or a greater target of law enforcement
  • Review the treatment of young persons in the criminal justice system, assess the use of diversion and alternative measures across the country, with a particular focus on when and to whom these alternatives are offered, and the impact of diversionary programs versus full involvement in the criminal justice system

Liberal 

  • providing $250 million directly to municipalities and Indigenous communities to give at-risk youth the opportunity to be engaged in activities to stop the spread of gang activity

NDP

N/A

Bloc 

N/A

Conservative 

N/A

Green 

  • Provide specific funding for early mental health interventions, including social and emotional learning programs, quality and accessible early childhood education, access to community-based mental health services for parents and caregivers, youth peer support programs, mobile youth mental health clinics, etc.
  • Launch a targeted strategy aimed at ensuring timely access to mental health services for young people and children 
  • Provide funding for prevention, treatment, and research related to youth mental health, to address the growing crisis of mental health issues among young people
  • Call for a national study on the impact of phones and social media on mental health in adolescents

Liberal 

  • Provide up to $10 million over 3 years to youth-led  grassroots organizations that respond to the unique  sexual and reproductive health needs of young  people

NDP

  • Mental healthcare for young people who are reporting high levels of depression and anxiety available at no cost

Bloc 

N/A

Conservative 

  • Support young people at risk of radicalization through Canadian leadership that prioritizes justice, democracy, and pro-pluralism education: 
    • Proactively advocate for and invest in education programs that emphasize inclusion, pluralism, and human rights, inspired by local narratives and traditions
    • Defund programs aligned against Canadian values (including those delivered by UNRWA unless it is significantly reformed) and replace them with new education initiatives that uphold universal human dignity, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence.
    • Partner with and scale local civil society to deliver leadership, integrity, and teamwork skills to young people

Green 

  • Collaborate with provincial partners and communities to invest in youth mental health, education, opportunities, and success, in order to decrease the involvement of youth in the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on communities that have traditionally been either at greater risk or a greater target of law enforcement
  • Review the treatment of young persons in the criminal justice system, assess the use of diversion and alternative measures across the country, with a particular focus on when and to whom these alternatives are offered, and the impact of diversionary programs versus full involvement in the criminal justice system
  • Establish a funding program within Health Canada to support community-based organizations offering targeted LGBTQI2+ youth’s mental health and well-being programs, including suicide prevention, peer support, coming out, and counselling

Liberal 

  • providing $250 million directly to municipalities and Indigenous communities to give at-risk youth the opportunity to be engaged in activities to stop the spread of gang activity
  • Create a fellowship for 1000 students and new graduates and offer French Language Training to 3rd and 4th year students to help bridge current gaps including language barriers
  • Provide funding of $30 million over 5 years to help promising graduate students, support the mentorship and development of younger researchers, and increase opportunities for Black Canadians in Canadian post-secondary institutions
  • Introduce a new fund for student well-being to improve wait times and increase access to mental health care at colleges and universities. The fund will support the hiring of up to 1,200 new mental health care counsellors, including those who can support the needs of BIPOC students, at post-secondary institutions across Canada. We will invest $500 million over four years and dedicate 10% annually to support Indigenous-governed and operated post-secondary institutions

NDP

  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • Commit to ending discrimination against Indigenous children, young people and families by fully implementing the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders which ordered the Canadian government to stop chronically underfunding child welfare services on reserve, and working with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to implement the Spirit Bear Plan. We will put an immediate end to government litigation against Indigenous children
  • Indigenous children and young people have the right to culture, language and to be raised in their own communities – all of which are vital to overall well-being

Federal Leaders Debate Analysis

  • Rosemary Barton (CBC) to Jagmeet Singh (NDP): “WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU HELPING YOUNGER PEOPLE TO GET ACCESS TO THE MARKET OR ALLOWING OLDER CANADIANS WHO RELY ON THE VALUE OF THEIR HOMES TO LIVE?”
  • Number of questions asked by young voters: 1

Observations from our Analysts

While analyzing these party platforms it surprised me how few parties addressed Youth directly. I wonder if the lack of direct communication with Youth around the complexity of the issues we face is a contributor to the low rates of turnout we see at the polls from youth voters (53.9% for ages 18–24 in the 2019 Federal Election). For a group of people that have been so deeply affected by Covid-19 and has so many obstacles to navigate today, including employment and finding a career, cost of housing, cost of education, climate change and systemic barriers of oppression, compounded by the recent decision to remove polling stations from College and University campuses, Youth issues and voice felt widely overlooked by our political parties and their candidates.

I found the lack of youth focus in party policies to be a shame, as not only are parties not addressing the largest voting bloc , but there isn’t enough effort to help youth untangle the political landscape. The communications through the parties in this short window for campaigning have resembled, and maybe even perpetuated, the polarization that we are seeing in Canada’s political landscape. My concern is around why there isn’t a larger effort from parties to help young people, who are voting for the first time, understand what is at stake for them and make sense of how their vote affects their communities.

As the party platforms address broad issues that young people have been outspoken on, and policies make an attempt to support and sympathize with the demographic, these platforms miss out on setting actionable items that would put youth in the leaders’, innovators’, and change-makers’ seats. While it is the inequitable systems that need to be addressed that continue to impact youth prosperity from housing to education to health and more, youth are seen as a burden rather than those having lived experiences and future-ready skills. The parties miss out on supporting youth as the potential driving force towards change and innovation for equitable governance and cooperation, digitalization, and sustainability transformations in our communities, cities, and country inclusively. 

Voter FAQ

You have to vote at your designated polling station, which is often the one closest to where you live. To learn more visit the Elections Canada Voter Information Service website.

You can find out your riding by putting your portal code into this Elections Canada Voter Information Service webpage

Elections Canada has this resource to help you find who your local candidates are.  CBC has created Vote Compass to help you see how your priorities align with the positions of the various Political Parties. 

To be able to vote in this federal election, you have to be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old on election day, and be able to prove your identify and address (with a valid ID)

One piece of acceptable ID – you can find a list of what applies here. Don’t forget to bring a facemask!

The Secret Ballot is a fundamental part of our election process, meant to protect voters. It is illegal to take a selfie with a marked ballot, but you can take a picture with one of the Elections Canada signs outside the voting station to show that you voted, and encourage your friends to do the same.

It is the law that everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive paid hours off to cast their vote on election day.

Unfortunately this year Elections Canada’s Vote on Campus program has been cancelled.

Absolutely. Every vote matters.  Elections Canada collects data on the age and gender of voters, and Political Parties use this data to know whose vote they need to win, and therefore which policies they should focus on.  The more youth vote, the more those Parties recognize they need to create youth-specific policies to earn those votes.

Visit Elections Canada’s website to learn more