Many older voters, parents with young children and Canadians with disabilities didn’t vote on Monday because they couldn’t wait in long lineups at their voting sites. Elections Canada has apologized but said there was little else they could do given COVID-19 restrictions.
“I always vote and am incredibly disappointed I did not this time,” said Patricia Au, a voter in the Toronto riding of University—Rosedale. She was told two times on Monday she’d be waiting for two hours. “I forfeited my ballot this year.”
Farah Hassanali, a single mother from Ajax, Ont. with five-year-old twins, was similarly discouraged by how slow the line was moving at her voting site.
“I had to pick up my kids from school and daycare… and I wasn’t able to go back to vote because my kids are young and I couldn’t stand in line with them for hours,” she told CTVNews.ca In a phone interview.
“I did set out some time in my day to go and vote but my past experiences have never taken that long,” Hassanali said. And because a Liberal win was projected before many had even voted, she saw people who left the line because they felt their votes didn’t matter.
“I don’t think it was efficient and properly run.”
ELECTIONS CANADA ‘SORRY’ BUT HANDS WERE TIED
Upon hearing the stories of people ditching the lineups, Elections Canada media advisor Rejean Grenier said, “I feel for people who had to do that.”
But he stressed the agency didn’t have a choice in whether to run the election during the pandemic. This year, there were significantly fewer overall voting sites in many ridings across the country, due to COVID-19 restrictions which prevented many schools, churches, or other buildings from being eligible locations.
“We had all of the criteria that was placed on us where we had no choice about choosing certain sites,” Grenier said in a phone interview. He explained that despite ridings having fewer voting sites, there were more booths inside them, which meant the total number of voting booths overall was similar to past years.
He also noted that people who couldn’t or didn’t want to wait in line, could’ve mailed in their ballots, or submitted their ballots through advanced voting during the four assigned days earlier this month.
“We’re very sorry that people couldn’t or wouldn’t stay in line, but most people were patient and did,” Grenier said.
OLDER VOTERS, THOSE WITH DISABILITIES LEFT OUT
For many older voters and those with disabilities, it was less a matter of patience and more of physical limitations.
Roy Bagnato and his wife, in the Ontario’s York-Simcoe riding, told CTVNews.ca in an email that they’re in early 80s and couldn’t wait in the hot sun. Meanwhile seniors Gord Bulllied and his wife similarly couldn’t wait hours at their voting site in Peterborough county in southern Ontario.
“So for the first time in our life we did not vote,” Bulllied wrote to CTVNews.ca in an email.
Several other voters — such as Patricia Farmer from Keswick, Ont. who uses a wheelchair — said their physical disabilities made lineups difficult.
“Cars were lined up all the way down the main road. It was not moving and it would have taken hours before we could even park,” she wrote CTVNews.ca in an email, saying this was the case the two times she went.
“We have always instilled the importance of voting into our children and grandchildren no matter what, and we practiced what we preached. Well, this time none of us were offered the ability to vote.”
Whitby, Ont. resident Nikki Yannique Henderson has cerebral palsy and felt “very deflated” because she can’t stand for long periods of time.
“I think it super disappointing. We hear time and time again that people with disabilities matter, but this goes to show that we have a long way to go,” she told CTVNews.ca via text, noting that simply having the building being wheelchair accessible isn’t enough to make areas truly accessible.
“Ideally there should be a line for those who may have mobility challenges,” she said. “We need to continue to look at ways to make the experience fully accessible from the beginning.”
Her father, David MacKinnon — vice-chair of the Town of Whitby Accessibility Advisory Committee — wished that security and voting site volunteers had shown more leeway in expediting wait times for older Canadians and those with disabilities.
“I’m almost 70 years old. I’m not going to stand in line for that kind of time… One look at the lineup and we just kept driving,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “It’s been a long, long time since I’ve not voted in an election.”
The Elections Canada spokesperson said in past elections, volunteers would often scan lines to allow older voters to skip the line. But this time around, the lines were too long and volunteers were instead focused on moving the lines along.
WHAT ABOUT ONLINE VOTING?
MacKinnon said more needs to be done for disabled Canadians, and this pandemic election was the year to do it.
“Persons with disabilities have a tough time voting, even with mail-in ballots. A web-based voting system is needed,” he said.
He said it there should be a “trusted voter” program which allows people to vote online if they’ve been screened thoroughly by the government.
The Elections Canada spokesperson Grenier cited evidence showing how online voting – as was seen in the 2018 municipal elections in Ontario — can be unfortunately prone to errors and irregularities. He said even if an infrastructure could be set up, it would require a change to the Elections Act before it’s used federally.
Although she was unable to vote, Hassanali said she has sympathy for Elections Canada for organizing an election during a pandemic, but given the COVID-19 restrictions were known so far in advance, she wishes there were more advance polling days or more time allowed to mail in their ballots.
“I feel like my voice wasn’t heard and I understand many people are in the same situation.”
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77 per cent of Canadians aged 55-69 worried about retirement finances: survey – CTV News
More than three quarters of Canadians nearing or in early retirement are worried about their finances, at a time when more and more Canadians plan to age at home for as long as possible, a new survey has revealed.
The survey from Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA),conducted in collaboration with HomeEquity Bank, found that 77 per cent of Canadians within the 55-69 age demographic are worried about their financial health.
Additionally, 79 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older revealed that their retirement income — through RRSPs, pension plans, and old age security — will not be enough to be a comfortable retirement.
“Determining where to live and receive care as we age has been an especially neglected part of retirement financial planning,” Dr. Samir Sinha, NIA director of health policy research, said in a news release.
“These are vital considerations that can also be costly. With the vast majority of Canadians expressing their intention to age at home, within their communities, it is essential that we find both financial and health care solutions to make this option comfortable, safe and secure.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed some shortcomings in the long-term care system, 44 per cent of respondents are planning to age at home, but many don’t fully understand the costs involved, the study notes.
Nearly half of respondents aged 45 and older believe that in-home care for themselves or a loved one would cost about $1,100 per month, while 37 per cent think it would cost about $2,000 per month.
In reality, it actually costs about $3,000 per month to provide in-home care comparable to a long-term care facility, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Health.
Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, the NIA’s director of financial security research, said it’s important Canadians understand the true costs of aging while they plan for their future.
“Canadians retiring today are likely going to face longer and more expensive retirements than their parents – solving this disconnect will need better planning by people and innovation from industry and government,” she said.
To help with their financial future, the researchers suggest Canadians should delay receiving any Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan payments as the monthly payments increase with year of deferral. For example, someone receiving $1,000 per month at age 60 would receive $2,218.75 per month if they wait until age 70 to begin collecting.
The researchers also suggest leveraging home equity and purchasing private long-term care insurance as ways to help with financial stability for the later years.
U.S. energy transition to create Mexico auto jobs, climate envoy Kerry says
Mexico‘s manufacturing sector stands to benefit from a U.S. transition away from fossil fuels including through the creation of jobs for building electric vehicles, John Kerry, climate adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on Monday.
“Mexico’s industrial base, already deeply integrated with the rest of North America, absolutely stands to benefit from the energy transition,” Kerry said alongside Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico’s Chiapas state, near the southern border with Guatemala.
Kerry traveled to Mexico to meet with his counterparts ahead of the upcoming United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which neither Lopez Obrador nor his foreign minister is expected to attend.
“When we switch from gasoline to electrified vehicles, there are going to be a lot of good-paying jobs here in Mexico because of the connection already of the automobile industry and our two countries,” said Kerry, who visited a flagship reforestation project promoted by Mexico.
The production of automobiles in North America is highly integrated through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)
Under Biden and Kerry, the United States has stressed the need for more aggressive action to address global warming. Lopez Obrador, on the other hand, has cut the environment ministry’s budget as part of an austerity drive and dismantled policies promoting private investment in renewable energy.
Research coalition Climate Action Tracker rates Mexico’s overall climate plan as “Highly Insufficient”, saying its policies and actions will “lead to rising, rather than falling, emissions and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.”
Lopez Obrador says he will tackle carbon emissions by revitalizing dilapidated hydropower projects under state control and through the tree planting program, called Sembrando Vida, which aims to plant 700,000 trees.
But he has also focused on reviving state-run oil and power generation companies, and his government has prioritized fossil fuels over renewable energy sources for Mexico’s national grid.
Mexico, the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in Latin America, is seen as vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather patterns, with tropical cyclones and floods battering the country every year.
By 2030, Mexico plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22% over a business-as-usual scenario. Brazil, the region’s biggest polluter, aims to cut its emissions by 43% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Karishma Singh)
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