Young Workers Blog: These are the issues young people want to see addressed in this election

Saskatoon, Sask. – October 8, 2019 – Most of the issues that need to be addressed in the federal election are the same problems that young people have been waiting for action on since we were born.

One of the top issues is pharmacare. Canada is the only developed country with universal health care that does not have a publicly funded prescription drug program. Many unionized jobs have insurance plans that can help with these costs, and that is an excellent reason to join a union. But your health should not necessarily be tied to your job. In my opinion, no one should have to go bankrupt in order to purchase life-saving medicine. But without a pharmacare program, that is a very real possibility for some Canadians, especially if you are retired or unemployed. That is why we need a universal pharmacare program – to make sure that everyone can access the medicines they need without going through hardship.

Closely tied to pharmacare is the issue of dental care. A toothache can be one of the most annoying distractions imaginable. But worse than that distraction can be the worry surrounding how you’re going to pay to fix it. With work becoming more temporary and part-time, and benefits being absent in many “gig” and contract jobs, it can be impossible for some to afford dental work, rent, food, transportation, and other expenses that may arise. Here, as with pharmacare, a universal, publicly funded dentacare program would take a huge burden off the shoulders of working Canadians.

A third issue affecting young workers is the rising cost of housing. It can be nearly impossible to save for your future when two-thirds of your monthly income goes towards your rent or mortgage. Keeping in mind that you also need to eat and pay for transportation to get to work, it can be hard to afford Netflix each month let alone a house to raise a family in. With a strong affordable housing plan, the stress of high rent and housing prices could be reduced.

Tuition prices are also having a major impact on the lives of young workers. Gone are the days when you could work full-time for a summer and be able to pay for your tuition, books, meal plan, and transportation. With average tuition fees now approaching $7,000 per year – and more than that for graduate school – there are not enough hours in a summer for a working student to be able to pay for their school expenses in full. This is where government grants could help reduce or eliminate the ridiculously high cost of tuition fees.

Young workers across Canada are taking a hard look at the parties and leaders to see which party will best address these issues. We expect action on pharmacare, dental care, affordable housing, and tuition fees, and we will be voting accordingly. As the late, great Tommy Douglas once said: "Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world."

Jesse Porter is a proud UFCW Canada Local 1400 member who works at Saskatoon Co-op.