The New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate for UTSG’s riding, Jessica Bell, stresses her party’s commitment to issues such as accessible transit, housing, mental health services, and education, all of which make her a relatable and viable candidate.
Bell acknowledges the TTC’s high fares and the effects of poor service quality. She mentions the NDP’s plans to invest in the TTC and introduce discounted passes for students and low-income riders. While this plan is exciting, Bell does not discuss how much money the NDP plans to invest in the TTC and how this investment would accommodate the TTC’s estimated 850,000 riders.
Bell responds to the demand for mental health services by saying that these stresses are often related to unaffordable housing and mental health support. She highlights the NDP’s plan to make housing more affordable and introduce 30,000 new supportive housing units. She also adds that the NDP is considering funding 2,600 more mental health workers for shorter wait times. These plans would admittedly help many postsecondary students. However, an NDP government might not have enough funds to put all of these plans into action after making up for the current provincial government’s deficit spending.
On education, Bell explains that the NDP is considering converting any new student loan to a grant, and eliminating government debt on all current loans. Funding would come from raising corporate taxes and personal taxes for higher income brackets, an act that would likely draw protest from voters. Bell also mentions that the NDP plans to create 27,000 co-op positions to ensure paid work experience for postsecondary students, but doesn’t explain how the NDP plans to create them.
Though all of Bell’s platforms address student concerns, there remains doubt regarding the NDP’s ability to finance all of its proposed plans, as the next provincial government will have to work hard to balance the books upset by the current Liberal government.
Zeahaa Rehman is a fourth-year student studying Linguistics and Professional Writing and Communication at UTM.