The policies and priorities of the provincial government directly affect the health and well-being of our communities. As a fourth-year bachelor of science nursing student working to engage nurses in political processes, I would like to illustrate how proportional representation (PR) empowers B.C. voters to elect a government that reflects their needs.
British Columbia currently operates under a first past the post (FPTP) voting system, where majority governments can be formed with the support of far less than 50 per cent of voters. The upcoming referendum will ask if voters would like to continue with FPTP or try one of three types of PR: dual member proportional, mixed member proportional, or rural-urban proportional.
While the specifics of each type of PR can sound confusing, rest assured all three types benefit Courtenay by reinforcing the progressive, environmentally responsible views of our new municipal government. These views include the need for cleaner, more healthful modes of transportation and their proposal to ban single-use plastics.
In other countries using PR, residents see better representation of their views due to coalitions with smaller parties forming within legislature (Fraser, 2018; Miljan, 2018). We should applaud these coalitions and the expanded power they will deliver to B.C.’s main under-represented party: the BC Greens. Coalition governments result in greater compromise via vote-trading to back specific initiatives. A provincial coalition that echoes our municipal government’s support of a ban on single-use plastics, for example, could expedite and amplify this important initiative.
In a few short months, I will be working as a nurse in the community, and I am clearly concerned about initiatives that impact the health and well-being of our communities. Any form of PR would result in a higher likelihood of important initiatives being supported – even ones that prioritize the health of British Columbians over the almighty dollar.
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