OK so bear with us on this one. Canada has 338 ridings.
A riding? It is a region. All the people in this region vote for one person to represent them in the House of Commons. The person they vote for becomes their Member of Parliament (MP). Canada has 338 ridings, which means there are 338 representatives (MPs) in the House of Commons.
When we go and vote, we don't actually vote for the leaders of the political parties (although that is what it can feel like sometimes). We vote for the candidate in our riding that we find is most aligned with our values.
Important Note: MPs are not our delegates, they are our representatives. What’s the difference? A delegate is supposed to do what the people they represent want. A representative is supposed to act in what they think is the best interest of the people they represent.
So who forms government?
Canada has a first past the post system. That means that the candidate who receives the most votes in a riding wins. They don’t need to win a majority, they just need to do better than the other candidates. Then, the party with the most seats wins the elections. If they win a majority of the seats (170 ridings), they become a majority government. If they win less than 170 seats, they’re a minority government. This means that they may not have enough people on their team to get a majority in parliament to pass through bills/laws. This requires them to work with other parties to get bills and laws passed through.
But what can the government do for mental health?
This is another ‘bear with us’ moment. Canadian health care responsibilities are shared between provincial/territorial governments and the federal government. The federal government (in essence) guarantees that the standards set in the Canada Health Act are being met by provinces. The federal government also guarantees health care to certain groups, the largest being Indigenous peoples in Canada. They also provide a lot of funding. The provinces are the ones that have more control in the specifics of how they run their health care systems.
But why is mental health a federal issue? Because the federal government has a lot of influence and power to advocate for certain norms. The Minister of Health is in a position where they can work closely with their provincial counterparts to increase access to mental health services and resources.
mental health is not an issue that exists in a vacuum. The federal government can make a lot of decisions on issues that are related to or affect mental health. Some of the top issues we heard that were important to young voters were the cost of living and the environment. Think about what a government that wants to address climate change could do to help people who suffer from eco-anxiety. What about a government whose platform on the economy focuses on doing the things that you feel will make your life more affordable? These are things that directly impact our mental health.