For young Manitobans able to vote for the first time in a provincial election, those who have had the opportunity to vote before but have chosen not to, and for those who have voted before but are unsure if they will again, voting is an opportunity to make your voice heard by speaking up on issues that are important to you.
There are pressing issues to motivate all young Manitobans to get out and vote this October 3rd to make sure our interests are recognized. Rental and house prices have been increasing in Manitoba, creating issues of affordability when it comes to rental properties and casting doubts over whether the current generation of young Manitobans will be able to afford a house. Based off the average price of a one-bedroom rental property; a Manitoban working a full-time minimum wage job would be spending 54 percent of their pre-tax income on rent, leaving very little for other necessities and making it difficult to save any meaningful amount. A government policy of setting the minimum wage to a liveable wage of at least $18.34 an hour is an important step for affordability. A liveable wage would also help ease the issues that young Manitobans attending universities are facing, the all-round increase in the cost of living combined with tuition increasing even in years where little to no in-person classes took place has led to an increase in university students who are struggling financially.
Unless there are changes made to the minimum wage and rental policy in the province, it will be harder and harder for young Manitobans to support themselves. With house prices rising at the current pace, the current young generation will be homeowners much later than previous generations. The Right to Housing Coalition’s five pillar plan would improve access to affordable housing for young Manitobans. Without meaningful action being taken to address the affordability crisis of housing and day-to-day life, young Manitobans are leaving the province more than any other age group.
Climate and the environment is another reason why we must use the power of our vote. Each generation has been let down by the previous and their decisions regarding the environment. There is still plenty that can be done to improve the action being taken to get off of fossil fuels, starting with protecting Manitoba Hydro from privatization and improved clean-energy affordable public transportation. We must use our vote to ensure that the government recognizes the severity of the situation and prioritizes these issues that are important to us who want to build a better future here.
Voting is an opportunity to do our part and take care of our communities that took care of us while growing up, and to use our vote on a party that aligns with the ideas and values that we want to see promoted in our neighbourhoods and in our province. This election in particular carries extra importance. As the first post-COVID provincial election in Manitoba, this is an opportunity to address the issues that became glaringly evident over the pandemic years as we strive for a future where all Manitobans can thrive. Young Manitobans should be aware of the pressing issues that must be addressed by the next government and can use this election as an opportunity to make the government listen to what issues are important to us in the future, and what must be done to improve the current situation. For the youngest Manitobans who can vote and may not feel the full weight of some of the issues, this election is an opportunity to set yourself up for success and ensure the appropriate supports are in place for when it’s time to venture out on your own. Four years is a long time; a lot of progress can be made if we make our voices heard and elect a government that is willing to make meaningful change. Voting is a right, and one that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to use if we want to make a better future in Manitoba. The older we are before we begin to use that right, the longer it will take to fix what is wrong.
Same-day registration is available for first-time voters in Manitoba by simply going to a poll with any piece of government ID and the process is very quick and simple. If you’re unsure where to vote, ask to go with your parents or use the Elections Manitoba website, which can help find your area’s poll locations here. The CBC and the CCPA have both done election platform tracking that can be accessed to read about each party’s platform and help you to decide on which party to support.
Sean Lett graduated with a Political Studies Degree from the University of Manitoba in 2023.