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The Critical Impact of One Vote

“My Neighbour’s strength is my strength… My Neighbour’s failure is my failure.” — Former Mayor Naheed Nenshi

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Wed May 24, 2023 by Momentum Staff

Your vote counts. Not only does your vote have far reaching impacts on your quality of life, but it impacts the lives of those around you. It changes how social programs are run and funded, affects health and education, and determines how we, as a society, build a social safety net to maintain our standard of living.

This is just one of the many reasons that its important for all eligible Albertans to vote in the upcoming provincial election — the outcome will have a real-world impact on the services available to you, on your income, and the well being of those around you.

In Alberta the provincial government oversees social programs such as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Income Support, and funding for crisis shelters. It regulates insurance markets and pricing, funds non-profits and charities, manages and funds education, health care, and post-secondary, and generally provides oversight and funding for essential public services. These services provide Albertans with a social safety net and help maintain the well being of those around you. A functioning safety net can help keep you or your neighbour from experiencing poverty or homelessness during a difficult time (job loss, loss of a partner, health crisis, etc.), and provides vital supports to communities that enhance overall quality of life.

Government decisions on social programs, healthcare, education, insurance, and other critically important facets of life can have a significant impact on your well-being— especially if you are a newcomer, are living on a low income, or belong to the BIPOC community. Your vote gives you an opportunity to shape these decisions and determine what this impact will be.

Every candidate, party, and leader running in this election has differing values, beliefs, and ideas about how the government should approach each of these important areas — they determine what gets funded and what doesn’t, decide how strong regulations will be, and choose whether to provide strong social supports or encourage self-reliance. Each of these approaches will have a significant impact on your daily life as an Albertan — and on your wallet.

It’s important to consider how each of the candidates in your riding, and each of the parties and leaders in the province, approach these issues. Do they believe in a strong public sector, with funding for social programs, education, health care, and other essential services? Or do they believe in the power of the private sector, with low taxes, loose rules and regulations, and a preference for efficiency over equity? Each of these approaches has very different real-world outcomes and impacts on your financial health and quality of life — especially if you’re living on a low income.

While it can feel obvious to see the relationship between taxes and income, the truth of the matter is not so clear cut. While lower taxes can and do have a substantial impact on take-home pay (i.e. after tax income), lower taxes do not always mean more money in your wallet at the end of the month. This is because tax dollars are used to fund social programs and other government initiatives that make life more affordable, especially if you are facing a financial barrier. Lowering taxes, and thus defunding government services (and consequently defunding charities and non-profits), could actually make things worse for the average Albertan.

Beyond social services, Alberta’s next government will have important decisions to make around healthcare, education, infrastructure, climate change, and other pressing issues. Again, the way we approach these issues will have very real consequences on our quality of life, affordability, and well-being.

Before heading to your local polling station, take some time to research the candidates running for election in your riding as well as the parties and leaders they align with. Make sure their values reflect those that you hold and consider the impact that their decisions will have on your well being. 

Consider, too, the impact of these decisions on those around you —your family, your circle, your community, your neighbourhood, your city. Even if a social program or a change to our education or healthcare systems does not stand to impact you, consider its effect on those around you. Consider how your life improves when those around you are flourishing rather than struggling to get by. Helping those around us who are least well-off can go a long way to improving things for everyone.

Your vote is your voice, and you have to speak up if you want to be heard. Your vote will have real world impacts on the well-being of you and those around you — make it count!