A digital town hall meeting was held for Thunder Bay Thursday night by Future Majority to discuss topics concerning young voters.
Future Majority is a non-profit organization that aims to politically mobilize young Canadians who are interested in issues such as climate change, mental health and education. Future Majority has been organizing this Town Hall to give Canadian youth direct access to politicians, in order to make informed decisions at election time.
Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and MP for Thunder-Bay-Superior North was there to answer questions from attendees. Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski was also invited to be in attendance. He has attended previous events, but was unable to join on Thursday.
The meeting was centred around three topics: climate change, metal health and accessible education. The broader discussion included making education affordable and ending boil water advisories on reserves.
To open the debate, Hajdu was asked what Canada’s road map to carbon neutrality looked like; legislation is key, she said.
“Politicians come and go,” Hajdu said. “Parties come and go as power shifts hands. Different political parties have different values and different perspectives and different agendas, so we believe that Canada needs legislation that commits the country to this target to have net zero emissions by 2050.”
To open each topic, personal anecdotes from select attendees were shared and showed how these concerns are affecting people in the community. Those in attendance were mainly millennials and gen z, concerned for the future of young Canadians, primarily with mental health.
Hajdu said a false dichotomy has been created surrounding the conversation of mental health, creating a divide between those who are struggling and those who are helping.
“It doesn’t normalize the fact that we’re all going through this together and actually it’s quite normal to feel anxious, to struggle with balance even with substances and that when we start to have a conversation that’s more honest and open about the fact that there are tools out there, we’re going to start to see a more comprehensive conversation about mental health and substance use,” Hajdu said.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt in all aspects of life and especially with individual’s mental health. As cases continue to rise and isolation precautions continue to be enforced, people feeling isolated or as Hajdu also mentions, led to abusing substances.
Hajdu went into her own experience with substance use, telling those at the meeting that in her family she comes from a long line of people who have used alcohol problematically.
Hajdu says the most frustrating intersections for her is how at the federal level she does not have direct leverage of control over what provinces and territories do or don’t in their own jurisdictions.