Mental health, opioid crisis and environment top municipal issues, say students in Northern Ontario

For Jared Gagné, a student at Nipissing University, the mental health and homelessness crisis is the most important municipal election issue in North Bay, Ontario.

“These people are kind of left behind by our society, kind of left behind,” said Gagné, who studies history and political science at the University of North Bay.

« And I think there are a lot of people, myself included, who really think our community should be doing more to help those people. »

Noah Siren, a political science student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., said the opioid epidemic is also a big problem in his community.

« You can start with change at the local level, » he said.

Noah Siren, a political science student at Lakehead University, says municipal candidates haven’t had a strong presence on campus. (Submitted by Noah Siren)

Simran Talpade, also a political science student at Lakehead, said the environment, truth and reconciliation are her most important political issues.

« I don’t really hear much, at least from the municipal level, » she said.

Reaching young voters

Gagne said he saw an effort by North Bay municipal candidates to reach out to young voters and show up at campus events.

« After our reading week, we have events scheduled with the student union to have a little meet and greet with candidates on campus, » he said.

But Siren and Talpade said local candidates were largely absent from Lakehead.

« I think there’s a lack of attendance and there definitely should be, especially when there’s, you know, such a problem with the turnout of younger voters, » Siren said.

A young woman standing next to a tree.
Simran Talpade, a political science student at Lakeahead University, says city politicians could use social media apps like TikTok to reach young voters. (Submitted by Simran Talpade)

Talpade said municipal candidates should make more of an effort to connect with younger voters through social media.

« I don’t know if you know TikTok, but I’m into it a lot, » she said.

« I know a lot of my friends are into it a lot. It would be a great platform to spread information and spread the word about what this candidate is about. Because personally, that’s where I get a lot of my news from. »

Talpade added that local candidates should make an effort to run where the young people are.

“Having a one-on-one chat or even just a group chat with candidates in general showing up in places where you know your younger population is going to be, would make a huge difference for us,” he said. she declared.


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