Half of those surveyed in new poll see N.L. going bankrupt in near future

The future isn't particularly bright right now, at least according to a new poll.

Nearly 50 per cent also believe province has gotten worse in last 10 years

This word cloud indicates the concerns of those surveyed. (Abacaus Data)

Half of the residents surveyed in a new poll think Newfoundland and Labrador is likely to go bankrupt in the next few years. 

Specifically, 53 per cent believe bankruptcy is likely versus 47 per cent who think it is unlikely, according to the results of the survey conducted by Abacus Data. 

"It's a reflection — one, of the general anxiety that exists in the public because those academics and others have been talking about how tough things are," says Tim Powers, managing director of Abacus Data.

"And two, it's an acknowledgement that those messages are getting across."

Belief in the likelihood of bankruptcy increases with youth —  64 per cent of respondents under the age of 45 feel it's likely to happen.

But Powers said the responses to the poll show it isn't just that generation feeling grim.

"What's really vital when you drive down to this is, this concern isn't constricted to one demographic or one particular group of political supporters or one region ... people figure the dire circumstances are here and it's only going to get worse," Powers told Here and Now's Debbie Cooper. 

Tim Powers, with Abacus Data, says the poll results show people want a new way of thinking to tackle big issues. (CBC)

Almost 50 per cent of those surveyed believe life in the province has gotten worse compared to ten years ago, while 31 per cent feel the situation is the same and 20 per cent say it's better.

Residents identified the top three "very big problems" for Newfoundland and Labrador as:

  • Provincial budget deficit and finances. 
  • Future opportunities for young people. 
  • Cost of living.

Glimmers of hope

Maintaining a strong tourism economy, reforming the fishery and oil and gas developments are cited as what people would like to see happen in the province over the next 20 years, said Powers.

The above graph, provided by Abacus Data, shows what people surveyed said are the issues facing N.L. (Abacus Data)

He said there is a message being sent to politicians that residents want "innovative solutions."

"One of the great myths in Newfoundland and Labrador is you can't change anything in any community. That ferry service has to stay there or that road needs to be paved there or that government offices can't move," said Powers.

"Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are overwhelmingly saying — to the percentile of 71 per cent — things are dire and we want new ways of thinking." 

The online survey was conducted with adult residents between Jan. 8 and 15, 2018.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 600 is +/- 4.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

With files from Here and Now