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Social issues could play big role in Alberta election outcome

Global News with Sue Tomney 26 March 2019

Although it is early days in the road to the 2019 provincial election, social issues have already made many headlines among party leaders.

Most recently, the United Conservative Party announced its education platform, which opposition believes could threaten gay-straight alliances in schools and students’ ability to join and create the clubs.

In 2015, GSAs were a hot topic among voters and could prove contentious once again.

Dr. Kristopher Wells, who is an advocate for the LGBTQ community, said that the inclusion and strong policy that supports students would be a priority again for the group when it comes to a newly elected government.

“Regardless of the party, we need to see inclusive curriculum,” Wells said. “LGBT students need to see themselves included in their text books and in the halls and walls of their classrooms.”

He added that much work needs to be done surrounding health-care accessibility for the LGBTQ community, including seniors.

“What kind of training and resources need to be provided to ensure that seniors don’t have to go back into the closet or deny their relationships?” Wells questioned.

The YWCA told Global News it plans to take on more of an advocacy role going forward and wants to see gender pay equality and minimum wage be a priority.

“Still, women get paid on average, 87 cents on the dollar for men,” YWCA CEO Sue Tomney said. “59 per cent of minimum wage earners are actually women.”

Lori Williams is an associate professor at Mount Royal University in Policy Studies. She said that while social issues may not rank top on the priority for voters, sometimes in the end they can make a difference to a voter that is undecided.

“If it centres around that whole question of leadership, ethics, principals and things like tolerance — I think that could change those that are not committed to one party or another.”

Williams added it is still quite early, though, and voters really haven’t had time to digest the parties and all of their platforms.