Op-ed: This provincial election isn’t normal. That’s why you should vote.

This isn’t your typical provincial election.

Not only did BC NDP Leader John Horgan call the election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic — this election is taking place against a backdrop of systemic inequalities that the virus has laid bare.

As university students, who makes up the next government impacts us directly.

The province has always been intertwined with UBC and its governance. The university’s funding comes in large part from the province. In the 2019/20 fiscal year, the university received $657 million in provincial government grants, making up around 30 per cent of its total operating revenue of more than $2 billion.

That gives the government a considerable amount of control over UBC and as a result, your university experience.

And especially in this election, who’s in government matters. The ruling party will have control over the future pandemic response and recovery. The pandemic has impacted us all, and while we’ve moved past the idea of it impacting everyone equally, how the government addresses the pandemic has the potential to impact the next years, even the next decade of life in BC.

On top of the simple pandemic response plan, this government also has the responsibility to finally address some long-standing issues in BC that the pandemic has made impossible to ignore.

Since the pandemic began, 244 people have died of COVID-19. An additional 1,068 people have died between January and September from another public health emergency: the opioid crisis, which has taken more lives in these past nine months than in all of 2019. The government you elect will be the one to decide how to handle the opioid crisis going forward.

Even before the pandemic, the past year has been one of activism.

Protests that erupted in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en at the Unist’ot’en camp in northern BC and here on campus, making it clear that the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline finds itself at odds with the Indigenous right to self-governance.

Thousands gathered in the plaza outside the Nest as part of global climate strikes, calling for action from politicians to protect our water and land for generations to come.

UBC students joined demonstrations at the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown after the deaths of George Floyd and other Black lives at the hands of police — cases of systemic racism that society in both the United States and Canada is rooted in.

Our generation has a voice. And it’s a strong one.

The next government will determine the path we take as a province to fight the opioid crisis, reconcile past and present wrongs done to Indigenous peoples, tackle the climate crisis and pursue an anti-racist future. With this election, we can influence where that path goes.

Yes, it’s a pandemic. Yes, that might make it harder to vote. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you want to go to the polls on election day, you can find your polling station on the Elections BC website. If you want to vote in advance, you can do so from October 15 to October 21. If you’re nervous about voting in person, you can request a mail-in ballot online until October 17.

Your vote matters, now more than ever.

Want to learn more about the election? Stay tuned to @UbysseyNews on Twitter to follow our ongoing election coverage. Charlotte Alden and Andrew Ha are the news editors for The Ubyssey.