Sask. youth hope to engage party leaders ahead of election
REGINA -- As the provincial election approaches, a group of youth invited Saskatchewan’s political leaders to a debate where they would be asked questions about issues that will impact the future of young people.
Future Majority is hosting the debate in partnership with the University of Regina Students’ Union. Future Majority is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on getting youth interested in politics and inspired to vote.
The group invited NDP leader Ryan Meili and Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe to take part in the debate. Meili has confirmed with CTV News that he will participate.
In an emailed response, the Sask Party said Scott Moe will not participate in the event.
“While we receive dozens of requests for the leader to participate in debates, Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe will only be participating in the Provincial Leader’s debate,” the statement read.
Bronwyn Heerspink, a Saskatchewan elections fellow with Future Majority, said some of the topics impacting youth include the affordability of living in the province, future jobs, Indigenous issues, availability of mental health care and tuition costs.
The group is hoping to receive a clear outline from both the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party about how they will respectively tackle those issues.
“There’s sort of a narrative that goes around that young people don’t care about politics, and for that reason, politicians and policies shouldn’t really address youth-specific concerns,” Heerspink said. “But we’re seeing the data to show that really isn’t true.”
Heerspink said because youth make up such a large portion of the voting block, it’s important for their issues to be heard and addressed.
“We are seeing that youth political action, and we’re just wanting to see it addressed by the parties. Specifically, by the party leaders,” Heerspink said.
When asked about youth issues, Meili said the NDP does plan to work on helping the next generation. He said the party has made several commitments which would impact youth if elected, including increasing minimum wage, creating more jobs in renewable energy and dropping interest off of student loans.
“Young people are growing up today and are facing a tough environment. We need to make sure we’re putting forth opportunities to them and responding to their priorities,” Meili said.
Meanwhile the Saskatchewan Party has also highlighted its plans for youth if re-elected. The plans include a commitment to increase funding for youth people living with diabetes and autism. Moe also pointed out the capital builds program, which has impacted schools in Saskatchewan, and the funding that was put into the safe return to school plan.
“We need to do everything we can to continue to support and invest in our youth. That is the next generation. That is the generation that is going to continue to build and prosper in the province of Saskatchewan,” Moe said.
The Next Generation Leader Debate is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.