Council supports permanent resident voting rights

April 19, 2018 | Engaged City

April 19, 2018 (Vancouver, B.C.) - Yesterday, City Council went on record in support of permanent residents’ right to vote in municipal elections. Council’s support for this motion will see the City of Vancouver call on the provincial government to make the necessary legislative changes.

“I am pleased that Council supported new measures that will make the next election more inclusive and equitable,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver is home to many people from around the world who have helped to create a world-class city and it’s time that permanent residents have a direct say on local issues that impact their everyday lives.”

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada as a skilled worker, refugee, caregiver, sponsored family member, but is not a Canadian citizen. In 2011, there were 60,000 permanent residents living in Vancouver, equivalent to 33 percent of voters who took part in the 2014 municipal election.

“Vancouver Foundation believes voting rights for permanent residents are a key element of civic engagement,” said Deborah Irvine, Vice President, Grants and Community Initiatives. “Permanent residents share the same responsibilities as each of us to help create a healthy and livable community,” she added. “They work, they pay taxes, they send their kids to school, and contribute countless hours to community causes. We need them to have a voice in decision making too. This move from Vancouver City Council helps create that pathway.”

This is not the first time that Council and the City of Vancouver have indicated support for extending municipal voting rights to permanent residents. In 2014, the City endorsed recommendations from the Engaged City Task Force that saw permanent residents’ right to vote as a key way to create a more equitable and inclusive city.

Three years later, Council directed staff to investigate changes at the provincial level that would allow permanent residents to vote in Vancouver’s municipal elections.

Vancouver now joins 11 other Canadian municipalities working towards extending local election voting rights to permanent residents. Currently, there are more than 45 countries— including 7 jurisdictions in the United States and 25 European Union countries— who have given permanent residents some form of voting rights.