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  • News
  • December 19, 2017

Willowdale Youth Reflect!

Each month, the Youth Council is asked to reflect on a topic. Here are some of their responses...

Happy New Year! What did you like about 2017 and what would you like to see in 2018?


"One of the policies that has been heavily debated is the decision to raise the minimum wage to $14, and further to $15 in 2019. Some have argued small businesses will have higher operating costs and might go out of business - all as a result of the minimum wage increase. This is no excuse to relay the additional costs to employees, however, as cutting the corporate tax rate from 4.5% to 3.5% has helped businesses offset a portion of the costs. The reality is there are many more people who will benefit from the increase, as an extra $3.75 every hour will make a huge difference for low-income households across Ontario." 

- Xiong Xiong Pei, 14, Victoria Park Collegiate

"Celebrating a new year, there is a lot to be appreciative about but the legislation I am most excited for is the new OHIP policy that allow youth under the age of 25 to receive free prescription medication. I believe that access to prescription medication for youth is a necessity, not a privilege. This policy relieves stress on families who currently pay for prescription medication for their children. The new OHIP policy is a continuation of our government’s efforts to increase affordable healthcare for all." 

- Katherine Tom, 16, Bayview Glen

"The new policies are overall beneficial. The new minimum wage will ensure people are more money-safe and are more secure for the future. Free OHIP I, personally think is extremely important especially for homeless youth or people who wouldn’t be able to afford it. Also free tuition was a good idea because it promotes education in lower income families so they can move further in society and do more of what they want rather than what their money limits them to." 

- Ainsley Deans, 15, Bayview Glen

"In 2018, I am most excited about the new OSAP changes that encourage thousands of students to apply to post-secondary institutions, as they are comforted in knowing that the Government will financially support their educational journey. These OSAP changes make the university experience a more affordable one and alleviate the financial stresses that tend to elevate along with the stress of student life. Overall, it is exciting to see that the Ontario [sic] Government is taking steps, such as raising the minimum wage and offering free prescription drugs to the youth, to ensure an easier lifestyle for young students. These actions allow for a stable and enriched experience of growth amongst youth, one that will enhance our ability to serve as successful and healthy future leaders."

- Jina Aryaan, 21, University of Toronto

"I really like the new policy that allows people under 25 to receive free prescription medication. It allows families to get medication for their children no matter what financial situation they are in. I also like the minimum wage increase, since most youth work at minimum wage jobs. The minimum wage increase allows young people to save up more money towards their futures. However, I still think more can be improved this year, including the current public transit system in the GTA."

- Samantha Boettcher, 15, Earl Haig Secondary School


Thoughts about the division of power between the provincial level of government and the federal level of government...

"Governments require talent in their bureaucracies and for talent to be split up into thirteenths is simply too detrimental to these vital departments. We need to have a strong, federal education and healthcare system that draws the best experts, throughout Canada and around the world, together in one working environment. This would ensure that the education and health care systems throughout Canada are improved and equal for all citizens. It is simply not fair that a student in Nova Scotia has a different education than a student in Ontario.

Canada’s system currently is operating above the standards of other nations but we still have room for improvement. Many key issues along with their corresponding responsibilities need to be transferred to the national level to ensure these issues are tackled with more intelligence and effectiveness. Only then will we grow our prosperity as a nation and grow our influence on the world stage."

- Frank Hong, 15, Marc Garneau

"For the most part, the division of power between the federal and provincial governments make sense. An example would be residual powers, such as telecommunications - under the jurisdiction of the federal government. However, I think it would make more sense for education to be a federal jurisdiction, rather than a provincial one. Provinces with larger populations such as Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia have better education systems than the territories, which have lower population density and smaller populations in general. If the curriculum was standardized across Canada, it would ensure that students growing up in the territories have accessible, quality education and have higher chances of pursuing post-secondary education. Although the territories have very little representation in federal government and less decision-making power, they are still part of Canada."

- Xiong Xiong Pei, 14, Victoria Park Collegiate



What are your thoughts on youth representation in education policy?

"The education situation is a vastly confusing and arduous array of checks and balances. Often, adults working in the educational sector do not have a firsthand vista into the very nuanced operations of maintaining a “healthy system.” Nowadays, the need for education is crucial for ― at most ― a basic sector job: the unemployment rate for high school dropouts is 24% compared to the skim 4.5% of college attendees. In a world of rapidly decreasing employment rates for younger students, the need for quality education and affordable post-secondary education is higher than ever.

Is it reasonable to expect those in power to be able to provide for special needs students if they don’t identify their basic needs? Absolutely not; only those who have special needs can accurately identify what they innately need in order to learn. Classrooms that can apply methods to help those who may be lagging behind are crucial because they help boost students who need help the most. Youth empowerment is increasingly important due to the growing complexity of societal demands. More than ever, students should be able to lead their own paths, and while doing so, be able to achieve a positive change in their environment and contribute to something greater."

- Alex Yu, 14, Marc Garneau Collegiate

"Education is at the root of everything and is interconnected with every aspect of life. There's a great variety of issues that can be effectively solved with the help of youth. Students are more than capable of providing help but need to be aware of the ways in which they can make change. It's important for students to get involved with opportunities like youth councils and advisory boards to supply direct suggestions. Even though students are very young, they have valuable insights. The best people to consult about education are the students themselves. It is among youth that we will find the solution to these issues.

We need to prevent disenfranchisement amongst students in regards to civic engagement. Providing an outlet for their problems and a platform for their ideas is becoming increasingly crucial in our modern decision-making systems. Students often have very strong opinions about education and their voices deserve to be heard."

- Taylor, 14, Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts

"All students have distinct student experiences that could better inform the existing education system and improve various areas that require additional attention. These diverse and unique perspectives are not being heard properly either because they are not given the platform needed to highlight their faced adversities or because the platforms that do exist are simply not promoted enough or made accessible to these distinct student populations.

Once student input is welcomed and encouraged by school board members, trustees, and
other influential key players in the discussion of youth education, existing policies and school
programs can be revised and improved to better reflect and meet the goals of the higher decision
making body. The youth are most affected by existing or absent school programs, and struggle
with the changing labour market and the corresponding employability prospects post-high school
or university. Having them serve as student representatives and active agents in the development
process of their own education may empower them and allow for greater and significant

- Jina, 21, University of Toronto

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