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Newcomers who can’t yet vote hope their voices are still heard in Mississauga byelection

While candidates in the Mississauga mayoral byelection continue vying for support on the campaign trail, a sizeable portion of the population will be watching from the sidelines, unable to cast their vote.

“The way that makes me feel is that I don’t have any rights over what is happening around the city,” said Lily Sulistyaningsih, who has lived and worked in the city for five years but is not yet a Canadian citizen.

According to census data, around 112,610 people in Mississauga — or about 16 per cent of the population — are not Canadian citizens.

While they won’t get to cast a ballot next month, that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say about their city.

“Everything is so expensive … but what can we do? We have to work harder, have two or three jobs,” Sulistyaningsih said. “I work sometimes seven days a week just to provide for the rent and groceries.”

The issues newcomers face echo what others across the city have been highlighting:� affordability, housing and transit are top of mind.

Organizations that work closely with newcomers say a lack of time and information can make it harder to engage this population in municipal politics. Often newcomers are working multiple jobs to keep up with expenses.

“It’s important to understand the newcomer needs so that we have a process of population growth that can ensure our communities are sustained,” said Jessica Kwik, director of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group at United Way Greater Toronto.

“Language is a barrier and knowing how the system is structured is another piece that requires orientation,” she said.

Residents who are eligible to vote will have the chance to cast a ballot at advance polls June 1 and 2.

Election day is June 10.

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