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New online platform helps youth have more input on future government policies

Credit: THE OFFICE OF MINISTER OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES, MICHAEL COTEAU

Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, explained a new digital platform which helps youth across Ontario have a conversation with the government, regarding policies that affect their everyday lives.


Jen Doede | Interrobang | News | November 27th, 2017



Ontario government officials launched a new online platform to help give youth a greater voice and input regarding policy developments in the province.

The platform, called YouthVoiceON, is dedicated to Ontario citizens between the ages of 14 to 29 and features a different topic of discussion each month. The engagement and feedback that youth provide to the platform will assist government officials in crafting future policies.

The official YouthVoiceON website states that “[…] we also recognize there are individual and social factors that can limit young people’s participation — such as social inclusion, education, employment and lack of availability and accessibility to opportunities. That’s why we created a more flexible mechanism for young people to have their say through YouthVoiceON.”

For the month of November, the platform will focus on questions regarding post-secondary education. According to an Ontario government press release, one of the questions the platform will ask youth to discuss revolves around the barriers that their generation faces in order to attend post-secondary education after high school graduation.

Youth who are engaging with the platform can also view suggestions and concerns raised by other millennials in order to see what opinions other Ontarians have on select topics.

The website also has a feature called Privacy Pat, which provides tips to youth visiting the website on privacy and how to protect their personal information.

Avid Twitter users can also take advantage of this new initiative by answering monthly themed questions using #ONyouth and #OnPSEaccess. Tweets will be reviewed by the government in order to develop strategies that can generate positive change for the future of the province’s youth.

The platform was launched a few weeks ago at the We Global Learning Centre in Toronto. A few government officials spoke at the launch, including Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, Hillary Hartley, Chief Digital Officer and Deputy Minister of Digital Government, and many others.

“I think now more than ever we need young people to be participating as much as they can when it comes to voicing their concerns and opinions, being a part of decision making and being a part of the issues that affect them so much in life,” Coteau said in a phone interview.

Coteau explained that since technology is always changing so rapidly, the Ministry needs to make sure that they are keeping up with the latest technological trends that are used by youth in order to have youth voices amplified across the province.

According to Brittany Kulchar, the vice-chair for the Premier Council on Youth Opportunities (PCYO), two years ago the Council began discussing the implementation of a digital platform to help engage youth from across Ontario, especially those who live in rural areas. PCYO is a Council of 25 young individuals from diverse backgrounds who provide advice to ministries regarding concerns and opinions of youth across the province.

“This is a direct back and forth conversation. Instead of it taking five to six weeks when writing a letter [to the government to hear back from them], you’re getting messages back via Twitter and the actual platform in a timely manner that can continue the conversation,” Kulchar said.

According to the YouthVoiceON website, YouthVoiceON will keep visitors and contributors updated on ways their input has shaped and influenced future government policies.

For more information, please visit youthvoiceontario.ca.