New study breaks down platform numbers to encourage young voter turnout

Elections BC data show that 40 per cent of 25-34 year olds voted in the 2013 BC election. So too did 49 per cent of 35-44 year olds. Turnout among younger British Columbians was well below that of residents over age 55 who cast a ballot in the last election at rates above 67 per cent.

One of the reasons young people offer to explain why they vote less often is that politicians don’t speak to their priorities or concerns. Others find it’s hard to make meaning of political promises. As a result, for some, the differences between parties is as clear as the mud you find in a swamp.

Generation Squeeze publishes “Swamplight: Making sense of the 2017 B.C. election platforms for voters under age 45” with one week left in the election campaign to address both of these concerns:

The latest study from our non-partisan lab at the University of BC School of Population & Public Health uses data from the Government of BC 2017/18 budget, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information to:

  • Estimate what portion of new social spending commitments in the BC Liberal, BC NDP and BC Green party platforms will go to residents under age 45 by comparison with residents age 65-plus; and
  • Provide a one-stop-shop for voters and the media to find quick, evidence-based analyses of how the parties compare on a broad range of issues, including housing, child care, K-12 education, postsecondary, anti-poverty plans, medical care and taxation.

The Swamplight study finds the three parties are similar in their new social spending commitments to seniors, but there are big difference in terms of investments for younger generations.

The BC Liberals will spend approximately $600 more per person age 65+. The NDP will spend $750 more. The Greens will spend around $800 more.

The Liberals will spend approximately $100 more per person under age 45. The NDP will spend around $400 more. The Greens will spend around $1,200 more.

Other findings from the new study include:

  • The Green party has the most aggressive plan of the three parties to contain the escalation in home prices.

  • The NDP and Greens are much stronger on child care than the BC Liberals. The NDP has a more detailed plan, but the Green party promises to invest more money, faster.

  • The Liberals and the NDP will spend nearly the same amount on K-12 education. The Green party promises 20% more spending on grade school than the other parties.

  • The Liberals, NDP and Greens propose to spend very similar amounts on postsecondary.

  • The Liberals, NDP and Greens propose to spend very similar amounts on medical care.

  • The Green party platform is the first in years to promise more new money for child care and education than medical care, while also matching what the other parties will invest in medical care. This makes the Green platform more in line with academic evidence about how to promote population health and prevent illness. 

  • The NDP plans to spend 2% more than the BC Liberals. The Green party plans to spend 7% more than the Liberals. Both of these parties propose tax changes, reallocations and stimulating economic growth to cover the costs of the extra spending.

Generation Squeeze genuinely does not care who people vote for, so long as they vote, because politics responds to those who organize and show up. Since younger citizens have been less likely to cast a ballot on election day, this has resulted in political parties showing less urgency in the past to solve the big problems that face younger Canadians – including the fact that high home prices in BC have left behind young people’s earnings.

We provide this Swamplight analysis of the BC 2017 election platforms to help people be better informed about the similarities and differences between the parties, and hope this will help people feel more confident to cast a ballot on election day.

The full study is available at:

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“Yes, Canadian governments need to make younger people a priority. I want a Canada that works for all generations."

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