Nova Scotia

Health care top Atlantic Canada issue: poll

One in four Atlantic Canadians would consider changing their vote in the federal election if the party they usually support fails to present a plan for the future of health care, a poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association suggests.

One in four Atlantic Canadians would consider changing their vote in the federal election if the party they usually support fails to present a plan for the future of health care, a poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association suggests.

The Ipsos Reid survey also reported 40 per cent of Atlantic Canadians said health care outranks the economy and jobs as their top issue in the May 2 vote.

John Haggie, a Newfoundland doctor who speaks for the CMA, said the federal-provincial accord on health care expires in 2014, meaning this election could be the last time for voters to register their opinion before it is renegotiated.

"Certainly over the last few years there has been no clear vision expressed by the political leadership in this country over where health care in Canada wants to go. I think that lack of vision and lack of leadership has made itself known to the voting public," he said.

"Really, the clock is already ticking. That has to be renegotiated in the very near future if it stands any chance of being in place by the expiry of the current accord."

The poll, carried out from March 29 to 31, also indicated 85 per cent Atlantic Canadians believe the federal government's role as custodian of the Canada Health Act is important.

None of the federal parties have yet unveiled platform plans for health care. The CMA called on all parties to clearly state their health plans.

For the survey, Ipsos Reid interviewed a representative, randomly selected sample of 1,200 adult Atlantic Canadians by telephone.  The results are considered accurate to within ± 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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