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Still living with your parents? The upcoming Ontario election could be just what you need

Kathleen Wynne, Patrick Brown and Andrea Horwath are all looking for an upset victory, and they would need those youth votes to do it, writes Colin Horgan.

Patrick Brown, Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne are likely to be campaigning for young votes in the upcoming provincial election.

Torstar News Service

Patrick Brown, Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne are likely to be campaigning for young votes in the upcoming provincial election.

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Torontonians aged 20 to 35 still living with your parents, please consider how much power you have.

One of the striking details to emerge from last week’s census info dump was that over half a million young, childless Torontonians are still living with at least one parent. Maybe this makes sense. After all, Toronto is an expensive city, even if you’re working a full-time job – especially so if you’re one of the thousands churning through the gig economy. It’s a city where rental availability and rates are starting to rival those in London or New York.

But now is not the time to lose hope or stay silent. There is an election coming and with it a real opportunity for issues to become policy promises.

A Forum poll of Toronto voters in June shows Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are hurting here, but it’s still close. Over the six boroughs, the Liberals attract 32 per cent of the vote, trailing Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives by six points.

Everyone 35 and older thinks the PCs are the ticket in 2018. But there is still one cohort backing Wynne: those aged 18 to 34.

It’s the same story across the province, with the NDP even more of a factor. Wynne, Brown and Andrea Horwath are all looking for an upset victory, and they would need those youth votes to do it. It puts young Ontarians in a good position to get their concerns a good hearing.

What happens when young people follow through on their demands?

Look to the recent U.K. election for an example. Simply put, British youth made a huge difference.

Exit polling suggested as much as 67 per cent of Britain’s 18 to 24 year olds voted Labour; 58 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 did the same. It helped push the party, once thought headed for obliteration, to its strongest position in years.

That groundswell came by surprise, and was generated in a major way online. The tired trope that millennials talk a good game on the internet but never take it to the voting booth was put to rest. Labour didn’t win, but young Britons helped force issues in that party’s platform into the ongoing national discussion – not just traditional ‘youth’ issues like summer jobs or tuition fees (though they were included) but big topics like housing and social mobility.

Young people there decided the system is no longer working for them, and they very nearly changed everything.

If young Ontarians feel something must change for them, too, 2018 will be a critical year.

A report earlier this year found Ontario to be the second-worst economy for young people in Canada. It’s a province where the full trappings of adulthood – even moving away from home – are being delayed.

If that sounds like a problem to you, now is the time to start organizing.

Colin Horgan is a writer and journalist in Toronto. From 2014 to 2015, he was a speechwriter for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party of Canada.

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