Ontario Votes: Vote Compass users weigh in on economic options

When it comes to corporate tax cuts or bailouts for struggling corporations — ideas on opposing sides of the economic debate in Ontario's election campaign — users of CBC's Vote Compass give both notions a thumbs-down, but are more supportive of higher taxes on the wealthy.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has promised an aggressive plan of cuts if he's elected premier on June 12, which he says would kickstart job creation. But Vote Compass respondents don't appear sold on the idea of corporate tax cuts. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

When it comes to corporate tax cuts or bailouts for struggling corporations — ideas that have been on opposing sides of the economic debate in the current Ontario election campaign — both notions get a thumbs-down from users of CBC's Vote Compass.

But on the subject of higher taxes on the wealthier earners, a key component of the provincial budget that preceded the election call, Vote Compass respondents are far more supportive.

Competing approaches to job creation and questions about fiscal responsibility have been front and centre in the Ontario campaign, which will send voters to the polls on June 12.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's aggressive attack on taxes and spending — which includes a plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs while promising to cut taxes — and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne's defence of her budget plans to raise spending and hike taxes on the wealthy have dominated much of the debate so far.

On Thursday, the NDP unveiled its platform, which includes a plan to raise Ontario's corporate tax rate to 12.5 per cent from the current 11.5 per cent. By contrast, the PCs have promised a drastic drop in the corporate rate, vowing to cut it to eight per cent if elected.

"How much tax should corporations pay?" was among the questions Vote Compass users were asked.

Chart: How much tax should corporations pay? (Mobile users, view the charts here)

Sixty per cent of respondents said corporations should be taxed more, while 24 per cent support current tax rates. Just 12 per cent of respondents said corporations should pay less tax.

Vote Compass broke down the responses further, including by voter intention.

Among respondents who said they intended to vote for the Progressive Conservatives, 35 per cent said corporations should pay about the same level of taxes as they do now. Twenty-seven per cent said corporations should pay less tax — while 34 per cent of PC supporters saying corporate taxes should be higher.

On several stops in this campaign, Hudak has denounced government funds to corporations — which he calls "corporate welfare" — while Wynne has said a Liberal government would continue to "partner" with industry to promote jobs and competitiveness.

Chart: Government should provide bail-outs to large corporations that are struggling (Mobile users, view the charts here)

Vote Compass asked users whether they felt the provincial government should bail out struggling corporations. The negative response was even stronger: 67 per cent said they disagree with government funds for struggling corporations.

Another question that drew a strong response was how much "wealthier people" should pay in taxes. A total of 71 per cent of respondents said they should pay more.

Chart: How much should wealthier people pay in taxes? (Mobile users, view the charts here)

Tackling the deficit: Assessing the trade-offs

Vote Compass users were also asked about trade-offs when it comes to tackling the $12.5-billion provincial deficit.

Hudak is in favour of extensive belt-tightening in a bid to eliminate the deficit by 2016, one year earlier than the NDP and Liberals, who have countered that Hudak's plan is a recipe for recession.

Users were randomly presented with one of four statements about how to cut the deficit. The options included cuts to either education, or health care; laying off government workers or raising taxes.

Chart: The provincial budget deficit should be reduced, even if means... (Mobile users, view the charts here)

The prospect of cuts to health care drew the strongest opposition among respondents, with 70 per cent disapproving of such cuts to pare the deficit. Eight per cent of respondents indicated they approve of health-care cuts as part of a deficit-reduction strategy, while nine per cent reported being neutral.

"As expected, health care emerges as the third rail in Ontario politics," said Gregory Eady, senior data scientist at Vox Pop Labs, the makers of Vote Compass. "Lowering the deficit via cuts to the public sector or raising taxes are more palatable to Ontarians."

Education cuts are also unpopular, with 65 per cent of respondents opposing education cuts to balance the budget, compared to 18 per cent who favour the idea and nine per cent who are neutral.

Cutting government workers drew a mixed response, with a total of 48 per cent of respondents saying they agree that workers should be laid off to pay down the deficit, compared to 37 per cent who disagree. Thirteen per cent responded as being neutral.

Of the four options offered, higher taxes met the least resistance. Forty-five per cent of respondents are amenable to tax hikes to pay down the deficit. Thirty per cent are against increasing taxes to cover budget shortfalls, while 22 per cent are neutral.

The findings are based on 34,019 respondents to Vote Compass between from May 7-18. Though Vote Compass is not a poll, respondent data are weighted using the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada to approximate a representative sample of the Ontario population.

Developed by a team of political scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is an educational tool offered exclusively in Canada for CBC News.


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