CAS Election Forum Focuses On Youth

It appears key issues for youth in this provincial election touch on mental health, youth poverty and social inclusion.

The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society held an election forum with the candidates for the Windsor-Tecumseh riding on Tuesday evening with the discussion focusing on youth concerns.

NDP incumbent Percy Hatfield squared off against challengers Remy Boulbol with the Liberals and Mohammad Latif with the Progressive Conservatives. Green candidate Henry Oulevey was not in attendance.

First-time voter Hannah Ruuth from Windsor didn't feel she got the specifics she would've liked.

"Honestly, I thought there would be a little bit more details in the answers to the questions. There was a lot of talk about, 'Oh we're going to invest this much money,'" says Ruuth. "But, where is that money going and how is it going to be spent efficiently? We've seen governments in the past put money toward these projects, but haven't exactly seen outcomes."

Improving healthcare is a major concern for Ruuth and in particular — mental health.

"All the [parties] are saying, 'I want to put more money into mental health services,'" says Ruuth. "But, we haven't been seeing results so, I really want to see that be improved because I've seen so many friends and family struggling."

The candidates were pressed on the issue of youth poverty with nearly one in four people under 17 years old in Windsor-Essex living in low-income households.

PC candidate Mohammad Latif slammed the Liberal government for, what he sees as, driving out business with higher taxes and hydro mismanagement. He pointed to lower taxes and lower hydro rates as the solution to attract business and create more jobs.

The NDP's Percy Hatfield accused the Liberal government of waiting 15 years to steal New Democract ideas meant to help young people like a higher minimum wage and pharmacare. Hatfield also pointed to the need for more social housing.

Liberal candidate Remy Boulbol stressed what she calls evidence-based solutions — offering up a housing first program, youth hiring incentives and investment in education as direct benefits for struggling young people.

Ruuth hopes to see the parties take youth concerns seriously.

"Issues such as the environment are important to youth as well because, it's the future of our province. If we're going to want to live here, it needs to be done in a sustainable fashion, and youth should be consulted on those issues as well," says Ruuth.

Election day in Ontario is June 7.