Kenney government's approval rating on managing Alberta's health care drops to 20%, poll suggests

Only about one in five Albertans believe the provincial government is doing a good job handling health care and the COVID-19 emergency, according to a new poll by the Angus Reid Institute.

'There is deep-seated anger here,' says political scientist Lori Williams

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney leads a government that ranks last among the provinces in its handling of the pandemic, according to recent approval ratings. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Only about one in five Albertans believe the provincial government is doing a good job handling health care, according to a new poll by the Angus Reid Institute.

Institute president Shachi Kurl says that proportion has dropped substantially since just before the global pandemic hit.

"Exactly two years ago, we were at a place where 60 per cent saw the provincial government doing a good job. That dropped to 36 per cent this time last year, and now it's down to 20 per cent," she said.

"What we are seeing is a really significant downward trend."

Premier Jason Kenney's UCP government scores the same slim 20 per cent approval rating on its handling of COVID-19 in the province, the poll found.

Lowest score

That's by far the lowest score compared with the other provinces. In Saskatchewan, 32 per cent of respondents said their government has done a good job handling the pandemic. The Ontario government had a 45 per cent approval rate, and in B.C., 66 per cent said that province had done a good job.

During the height of the COVID fourth wave, Alberta's health-care system was stretched to brink of collapse as ICUs were overwhelmed, forcing the government to seek assistance from the military and Red Cross in recent weeks.

Respondents were also asked to rate their province's performance in 14 other areas, including the economy, energy, infrastructure and education.

The UCP government's highest score was on the transportation infrastructure file, with 46 per cent of respondents approving of how that's been handled. 

Only 30 per cent said the province has done a good job generally on the economy, and 26 per cent approved of its handling of education.

"We do not see in Alberta even half of Albertans saying a 'good job' on any of those measures," Kurl said. 

The poll also found that the New Democrats led by Rachel Notley continue to have a double-digit lead among decided voters, with 43 per cent compared to 31 per cent for Kenney's UCP. The Wildrose Independence Party has the support of 15 per cent of decided voters.

Mount Royal University political science professor Lori Williams says the polling numbers seem to indicate that Albertans aren't simply unhappy with one or two policy directions taken by Kenney, but that their trust is completely gone.

"There is deep-seated anger here," she said.

"This is visceral, and I don't know that you can reverse something like that to the degree that needs to happen between now and in the next election." 

Williams said growing support for the Wildrose Independence Party indicates the beginning of a significant split on the right.

Albertans aren't set to go to the polls until 2023.

The online poll was conducted Sept. 29 to Oct. 3. In Alberta, it asked about 600 random members of Angus Reid's forum to take part. It's not possible to accurately calculate a margin of error for online surveys. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The Alberta NDP enjoy a double-digit lead over the governing UCP, according to a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute. (Angus Reid Institute)

With files from Colleen Underwood


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