Young was born in Toronto, Ontario. One of five brothers, his father was an Anglican minister at St. Anne's Anglican Church in Toronto's west end. Young's mother Judith is a member of the Massey family. His great uncle Denton Massey represented the riding of Greenwood in Toronto in parliament from 1935 until 1949, and is related to Raymond Massey.
He received his B.A. in Political and Social Science from York University in 1975 and attended Osgoode Hall Law School for one year, before choosing to pursue a business career. He worked for Ford Motor Company in sales, was a General Motors Sales Master and was licensed by the American Federation of Musicians to book Canadian musicians through Music Shoppe International. Before politics Young also worked as a manager for Bell Canada. He lives in Oakville with wife Gloria whom he married in 1980. They raised three daughters, Madeline, Hart, and Vanessa.
Young served as President of the Lewis Garnsworthy Tower, a not-for-profit supportive Housing residence for seniors in Toronto, and on the board of St. Hilda's Towers from 2001- 2013. He was Vice-Chair of the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians (2001) and Founding President of Policy Alliance Inc. a government relations firm (2001).
Young's fifteen-year-old daughter Vanessa died in 2000 after taking the Johnson & Johnson prescription drug cisapride (brand name in Canada: Prepulsid). Young became a consumer advocate after this incident, and has been fighting for a more stringent and protective drug-monitoring system in Canada. He founded Drug Safety Canada to advocate for safe prescription drugs, and also initiated a hundred million dollar class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and Health Canada in 2000, and an individual lawsuit, later settled after a six-year court battle. This story is told in detail in Young's 2009 book Death by Prescription. He introduced a Private member's bill on April 20, 2009, to establish an independent drug agency for Canada similar to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, focussing solely on prescription drug safety. The bill has been reintroduced through subsequent parliamentary sessions up to the most recent (as of August 2015), the 41st Canadian Parliament, 2nd session, but has never advanced to become law. After earlier government legislation had died on the Order Paper at the dissolution of the 39th Canadian Parliament, Young conceived and sponsored Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act — Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa's Law), named for his late daughter, which received Royal assent on November 6, 2014. The law gives Health Canada powers to order drug companies to provide clearly worded safety warnings to patients and doctors for all drugs in plain language, to change drug labels for drugs on the market to clearly reflect new safety information, to conduct new studies on drugs that have shown safety concerns, to take unsafe drugs off the market and the supply chain within 48 hours, and to compel health care institutions to report all serious adverse drug reactions to Health Canada. It also, amongst other powers, allows the Minister of Health to compel drug companies to make confidential business information (CBI) on their drugs available to specific entities such as the provinces and researchers, when patients are at risk of serious harm. The law also provides for fines, the level of which is at a court's discretion, for criminal negligence that harms patients. Authors in the Canadian Medical Association Journal have noted concerns with the enforcement of drug reaction reporting the law requires, with heretofore onerous reporting methods leading to low rates of report (5%), and suggesting "Reports for adverse drug reactions must be simple and quick to complete, and support clinical decisions at the point of care". Others have suggested the law will fail as it excludes natural remedies.
Young was elected for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario to the provincial legislature in the 1995 election, defeating incumbent Liberal Barbara Sullivan by 16,644 votes in Halton Centre amid a PC Party of Ontario sweep of the region. He served as a backbench supporter of the Mike Harris government. He served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education for three years with responsibility for Colleges and Universities; and then as Parliamentary Assistant to Finance Minister.
Young was part of a "family values caucus" in the Progressive Conservative Party, a group of right-wing members which included Jim Brown, Jack Carroll and Frank Klees. The group promoted legislation that sought to impress a certain moral view in Ontario society. Young said, "family values are things you have to discuss all the time. We didn't have any specific commitment to any family values legislation in the election campaign. But individual candidates like myself may have." In 1997 and 1998, Young twice sponsored a private members bill called the Zero Tolerance for Substance Abuse Act which would have required school principals to automatically suspend students if they were caught with cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. Both times the bill didn't make it past second reading.
Young criticized the Halton School Board for approving Joyce Carol Oates's novel, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, for Grade Twelve English. Young admitted he had not read the book but had seen excerpts which he characterized as pornographic and obscene.
In 1996, the Harris government reduced the number of provincial ridings from 130 to 103. As a result, some MPPs from the same party were forced to compete against one another for re-nomination. Young ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the new constituency of Oakville, but lost to fellow MPP Gary Carr, 651 votes to 432.
Young endorsed Frank Klees's bid to become leader of the PC Party of Ontario in 2004, who lost to John Tory; Christine Elliott in 2009, who lost to Tim Hudak; and Christine Elliot again in 2015, who lost to Patrick Brown.
In 2000, he was appointed to the board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission by Mike Harris.
Young ran for the House of Commons of Canada as an independent candidate in the 1974 federal election, in the Toronto riding of Parkdale. He received 144 votes, finishing well behind winner Stanley Haidasz of the Liberal Party.
He was elected to the House of Commons in the 2008 federal election, defeating Liberal incumbent Bonnie Brown in Oakville. On May 2, 2011, Young was reelected in Oakville with a larger majority of 12,178 votes, defeating local Oakville councillor Liberal Max Khan. He served as a backbench supporter of the Stephen Harper government.
In December 2014, Young introduced a Private Member's Bill called An Act Respecting the Prevention of Potential Health Risks from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation. The act which was co-written by Canadians for Safe Technology would have forced manufacturers of devices emitting electronic signals to place warning labels on the packaging. The bill did not get past first reading.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, Young devoted much of his time in Parliament to speaking out about the dangers of marijuana and the deaths it is allegedly directly responsible for. Young contended that marijuana legalization would normalize its use among Canadian youth, who currently lead the developed world in marijuana consumption. Young's argument that legalizing marijuana would still allow minors access because minors clearly have access to tobacco and alcohol despite age restrictions, had the unintended consequence of also being an argument against the legalization of the latter two substances, as noted by pundits.
Young was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in Oakville riding for the 2015 Canadian federal election. At an all candidates' debate hosted by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce on October 6, 2015, when asked how he and his party would create employment for young Canadians, Young changed the subject stating one of the biggest problems Canada’s youths have is drugs. The move provoked a groan from the crowd. Young also alleged during the campaign that the Liberal Party would create brothels if elected.
He lost to Liberal candidate John Oliver by 4,480 votes.