IN DEPTH: CANADA 2020
National public opinion survey
CBC News | June 2006
ABOUT THIS SURVEY
Innovative Research Group, Inc., a Toronto-based research firm, was commissioned to survey 1,007 randomly selected Canadians. The survey was conducted between Thursday June 15th and Sunday June 18th, 2006 and has a margin of error of ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
Canada in 2020 is a four month public dialogue initiated by The Dominion Institute to discover what Canadians think will be the single most important issue facing the country in the year 2020. The Institute has brought together twenty leading commentators from across Canada to write essays on the single issue or event that they think could transform Canada by the year 2020. The essays will be published in La Presse and The Toronto Star over four months starting July 1.
CBC News will take the discussion started in both papers to a national audience by featuring interviews, commentary, and mini-documentaries on the ideas raised by each of the twenty contributing authors. The public will be encouraged to add its voice to the debate through the project’s website and a $2020 essay contest. Canada in 2020 will conclude in December 2006 with a one-day citizens’ symposium in Ottawa.
The Dominion Institute was established in 1997 by a group of young professionals concerned about the erosion of a common memory in Canada. In the space of eight short years, the Institute has had a far-reaching impact on Canadians’ knowledge and perceptions of their history and shared citizenship, through groundbreaking public opinion research, high-profile internet, education and television programming, book publications, and meaningful curriculum reform. The Institute is a non-partisan organization and a federally registered charity (#873968176 RR0001).
Canada in 2020 public opinion study was made possible by a generous grant from the Public Policy Board of The Peter Munk Charitable Foundation.
On the eve of the country's 139th birthday, Canadians are generally optimistic in their outlook and think Canada will become a more tolerant and caring society in the future and will increase, considerably, its influence on the world stage.
However, when asked to imagine what Canada will look like in the year 2020, Canadians have major concerns about the environment, national unity and growing social inequality.
Almost one-quarter of Canadians say that global warming will be the single greatest challenge facing the country in the year 2020. By way of comparison, only one in 10 Canadians rank healthcare as the number one challenge that will confront Canada in 2020. When it comes to the future of the federation, one in three Canadians believes that Quebec will have separated by the year 2020. The country is also concerned about growing wealth disparities. Fully eight in 10 Canadians think that the gap between rich and poor will have widened in Canada by 2020.
These are some of the findings of a new national telephone survey commissioned by the Dominion Institute to launch Canada in 2020: a four month public dialogue to discover what Canadians think will be the single most important issue facing the country in the year 2020.
Canada in 2020 is an initiative of the non-partisan Dominion Institute in association with CBC News, La Presse, and The Toronto Star. For this survey the Innovative Research Group polled 1,007 randomly selected Canadians. The survey was conducted by telephone between June 15th and June 18th, 2006 and has a margin of error of ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of Canadians agree with the statement that "global warming will have become the greatest crisis facing mankind by the year 2020". When prompted to identify the single greatest challenge facing Canada in the year 2020 almost one-quarter (23 per cent) of respondents cite the environment or global warming.
Albertans (57 per cent) are the least likely to agree that global warming will be the greatest crisis facing mankind. This compares to at least 70 per cent of respondents in each of the other regions. Women (75 per cent) are more likely to share this position than men (69 per cent).
On a more positive note, while most view global warming as becoming the greatest crisis facing humans, close to seven in 10 (68 per cent) say that "energy conservation and new technologies will have made the environment better" by the year 2020.
The view that conservation and new technologies will make the environment better is shared by seven in 10 British Columbians (72 per cent) and seven in 10 Ontarians (71 per cent), as well, compared to just six in 10 (60 per cent) of residents in Quebec. The most optimistic Canadians on this front are those with a college education (75 per cent) or high school or less (73 per cent) education in comparison to those with a university degree (63 per cent) or a post-graduate degree (57 per cent).
Concerns about Quebec separation
One of the major national issues that has preoccupied Canadians since the time of Confederation has been the country's national unity. Looking to Canada's future, concerns about national unity are not likely to go away as close to one-quarter (23 per cent) of Canadians believes that "the province of Quebec will have separated" by 2020.
As would be expected, residents of Quebec (31 per cent) are the most likely to agree that Quebec will have separated by 2020. This compares to the views of Atlantic Canadians (24 per cent), Albertans (22 per cent), Ontarians (21 per cent), residents of Manitoba/Saskatchewan (17 per cent) and British Columbia (16 per cent). This position is also more likely to be held by Canadians under 45 years of age (27 per cent) than by those 45 and older (19 per cent).
Gap between rich and poor
Looking at some domestic issues, according to close to eight in 10 (78 per cent) Canadians, "the gap between the rich and the poor will have widened" by 2020, while less than one in five (17 per cent) disagrees. However, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) believe "Canada will be a more tolerant and caring society" by 2020.
Interestingly, those in middle income households, that is between $60,000 and $80,000 (86 per cent), are the most likely to believe the gap between rich and poor Canadians will widen, followed by those in the highest income bracket ($100,000+ or 81 per cent). This compares to the views of those making less than $60,000 annually (76 per cent), and those with household incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000 (73 per cent). Canadians with a post-secondary education (81 per cent) are also more likely to concur with this viewpoint than are current students (73 per cent) or those with just a high school diploma or less education (73 per cent).
Threats to Canada, troops in Afghanistan
When it comes to one of the most important current issues face the world, just one in five (22 per cent) Canadians believes that "global terrorism will no longer be a threat to Canadian society", while seven in 10 (70 per cent) disagree.
Regionally, this belief is strongest in Ontario (25 per cent) and British Columbia (24 per cent), followed by Alberta (20 per cent), Quebec (20 per cent), Atlantic Canada (18 per cent) and finally, Manitoba/Saskatchewan (14 per cent). This position is also more likely to be held by those 55 years of age and older (25 per cent) than by those 45-54 (20 per cent) or 35-44 (per cent). Canadians with a high school diploma or less education (27 per cent) are more likely to concur with this assessment than are those with a university (20 per cent) or college (16 per cent) education.
When it comes to Canada's current military commitment to the war on terrorism, that is the Canadian Forces deployment to Afghanistan, a third of (33 per cent) Canadians agrees with the statement "Canadian troops will still be on the ground in Afghanistan in 2020".
There also appears to be a strong age gap on this topic, with just under half (45 per cent) of those 18-34 agreeing that a significant contingent of Canadian troops will still be in Afghanistan in 2020, compared to just three in 10 (29 per cent) of those 35-54 and one-quarter (25 per cent) of older Canadians.
One other striking difference in position is that just one in 10 (10 per cent) Canadians with a post-graduate degree agrees Canadian troops will still be in Afghanistan in 2020 compared to approximately one-third of those with lower levels of education and over two-fifths (44 per cent) of current students.
Foreign policy, flu pandemic fears
One view for this optimistic outlook regarding Canada's expended influence is that close to half (48 per cent) say "there will be little difference between Canadian and American foreign policy" by the year 2020.
Regionally, there is little difference in positions regarding this suggestion. The one striking difference in viewpoint is found among education groups. Canadians with a high school diploma or less education (59 per cent) are the most likely to concur with this proposition, followed by those with a college education (50 per cent), compared to the position of Canadians with a post-graduate degree (41 per cent) and a bachelor's degree (40 per cent).
After having watched the effects of SARS and tracked the spread of avian flu, half (51 per cent) of Canadians say that, by the year 2020, "there will have been a world-wide flu pandemic." One in three (35 per cent) disagrees with this prognosis.
Optimism over accomplishments
While Canadians may have serious concerns about the future of the country when it comes to global warming, national unity, social justice, and international affairs they also believe that Canada is posed to make important breakthroughs and achieve new collective accomplishments by the year 2020.
Fully two-thirds of Canadians think Canada will be a more tolerant and caring society by the year 2020. Those in the highest household income bracket (52 per cent) are less likely than other Canadians to hold this position as are Canadians 45 years of age and older (only 19 per cent). In contrast, one-quarter Canadians under 45 years of age thinks Canada will be a more tolerant and caring society by the year 2020.
Regionally, residents of British Columbia (70 per cent), Alberta (66 per cent), and Quebec (64 per cent) are the most likely to share this viewpoint, followed by those in Atlantic Canada (61 per cent) and Ontario (60 per cent). Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (50 per cent) are least likely to believe this will be the case by the year 2020.
Further illustrating their optimistic viewpoint, two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians say that "a cure for breast cancer will have been discovered" by 2020, compared to 25 per cent who disagree. Looked at from a gender perspective, women (70 per cent) are more optimistic than are men (63 per cent) regarding a cure for breast cancer being discovered by the year 2020.
Looking at how Canadians see Canada's place in the world, two-thirds (66 per cent) believe "Canada's influence in international affairs will have increased considerably" by 2020, while one-quarter (24 per cent) disagrees.
Finally, when asked the eternal question about a glass filled half way, eight in 10 (82 per cent) Canadians see it as half full, while only 14 per cent believe it is half empty.