Public approval of UCP government slides 12 points, poll suggests

One in five Albertans who voted for the United Conservative Party in the spring election have developed a case of buyer’s remorse, a new poll suggests.

ThinkHQ poll 3rd this month showing honeymoon's over for Alberta premier

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's UCP government's approval ratings have slipped considerably, according to a poll released Monday by ThinkHQ. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

One in five Albertans who voted for the United Conservative Party in the spring election have developed a case of buyer's remorse, a new poll suggests.

Public approval for Jason Kenney's UCP government has slid by 12 percentage points since mid-October, and 21 per cent of respondents who voted for the party now disapprove of it, according to the poll released Monday by ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc.

The poll found that 53 per cent of Albertans now disapprove of the government's performance, while 44 per cent approve.

"After a contentious fall session of the legislature, Albertans' honeymoon with the governing United Conservative Party is over," the firm said in a release.

The slide in public approval and uptick in disapproval is driven by growing concerns about jobs, the economy and the consequences of budget-tightening by the Kenney government, ThinkHQ says.

Concerns about jobs rose by 14 percentage points since October, while the approval rating of the government's performance on the issue slipped by 13 percentage points during the same period.

Strong disapproval came in at 38 per cent, compared to just 16 per cent saying they strongly approve.

On health care, public concern is up by seven percentage points since October, the poll found.

The poll by ThinkHQ found 38 per cent of respondents strongly disapprove of the UCP government's performance. (ThinkHQ)

Only 39 per cent of Albertans say they approve of the government when it comes to managing health care, a drop of eight percentage points

"This is a significant drop in support, and likely foreshadows a bumpy start in 2020 for the UCP government," said ThinkHQ president Marc Henry.

"Their honeymoon has been fairly short-lived, and this is driven by not meeting voters' expectations, on economic and non-economic issues."

Kenney's October budget included a plan to trim the public service by 7.7 per cent by 2023, reduce spending on public service salaries by 2.1 per cent by 2022-23, cut spending on advanced education by five per cent, and cut transfers to the two big cities by $45 million a year.

Disapproval for the provincial government is especially high in Edmonton, but the UCP remains more popular outside of the two metropolitan centres, particularly in northern and central Alberta.

Two separate polls released last week by DART and Angus Reid also had bad news for Kenney.

The DART survey found that Kenney's personal approval ratings fell by 15 points since September, from 55 per cent down to 40 per cent.

The Angus Reid poll showed a less dramatic slide of six percentage point over the same time period with 54 per cent of respondents now approving of the Alberta premier.

Reacting to the Angus Reid and DART polls, Kenney said during year-end interviews that he told his team to expect some bad polling numbers as the new government gets to work making the tough decisions that have been postponed for too long.

ThinkHQ's poll was compiled from a random stratified sample from online surveys from Dec. 3 to 6. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of this size is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.