On October 19, the Canadian population will vote to decide who will lead our country. As the ad campaigns continue, it becomes increasingly challenging to disentangle the facts while trying to ignore the smear campaigns. Many people will stop at this point and decide not to vote because “every politician sucks anyways” or “one vote won’t make a difference.”
You have probably heard the same thing from every pro-voter: if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain later. While this holds true, it isn’t very compelling.
Below are some reasons why graduate students in the health sciences should vote, and how the decisions we make now will affect us in the future.
The majority of people who vote are starting to think about retirement, and by far the smallest population of voters is our generation. In fact, we are breaking records as the lowest voting population of all time, taking for granted what so many countries are still fighting for: freedom of choice.
Our voice can have an impact, but we don’t make it a point to have ourselves heard. By doing this, we are handing over full control to everyone else. While this may have been fine to do so as children, simply trusting “grown-ups” to make decisions for us is not what we should be doing now.
Education makes a difference. According to Statistics Canada, as people holding a bachelor’s degree we comprise approximately 17 per cent of the population. Approximately five per cent of Canadians hold a master’s degree, and less than one per cent of Canadians have their PhD. As people with higher education, we have values, skills and insight that other people do not have.
Even more specifically, we know science. We’re the ones doing it after all. In a recent poll, government-funded science and its availability to the public is the number one policy people are interested in improving this election.
If you continue in academia as a postdoctoral fellow, research associate, technician, professor or university/college administrative staff, research funding will continue to affect you.
The more government subsidizes research, the more money the universities have for everyone. This means more tenure tracked professorships, more administrative positions, better salaries, more graduate student funding and more program growth. Voting now could help change the research landscape ten years from now.
Tuition is not cheap. While voting may not change things for you right now, it could affect you in five, 10 or even 20 years into the future if you are thinking of having a family of your own. The decisions you make now could affect the decisions your children will make. Will they have the ability to go to university? Will they be able to enrol in a graduate studies program? The vote you cast now is an investment for the future generations.
Let’s face it — the job market is tough. People can apply to hundreds of positions to only receive a handful of interviews. Job security is not guaranteed, and retirement ages are being pushed back later and later.
Your vote now is an investment in your own future. It will help decide what policies are put in place, what taxes are created or revoked, and what jobs will be available in the future.
Budget cuts to the health care system have made hospitals do more with less for years. Currently, hospital administrators are being asked to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on individual departments, reducing the care patients receive at the individual level.
We as students with graduate education in the health sciences will have very different perspectives and understandings of health care and medical issues, and which policies (or lack thereof) may work to help improve the health care system. Your vote will help provide direction for the future of health care in Canada.
Your vote matters. You have background knowledge about the inner workings of science, research, education, health care and more. You have been trained to critically analyze information, and make important decisions based on these analyses. Use this to help decide the future of Canada. Be accountable for what happens next. Vote.
A special thank you to my colleague Zachary Hawley for writing this monthly message with me. Zachary is an MSc Candidate in the Department of Neuroscience.
PhD Candidate, Department of Neuroscience
Chair, Graduate Students Council, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry