Politics

Poll finds health care top issue in most provinces - and most governments don't get a passing grade

New survey by the Angus Reid Institute gauges Canadians on their top provincial issues — and how their governments are handling them.

New poll shows how each provincial government stacks up on the issues

According to a new poll, 60 per cent of Albertans think Premier Jason Kenney (right) is doing a poor or very poor job on the economy. (Nathan Denette / Canadian Press)

A new survey shows that health care remains a dominant issue in most provinces across the country — but Canadians are giving their provincial governments mixed grades on how well they're handling their health care systems.

The quarterly survey by the Angus Reid Institute interviewed 5,043 Canadians between Feb. 24 and 28, providing detailed results about how Canadians viewed the top issues in their own provinces and how well they think their governments are handling them.

(As the survey was conducted online, a margin of error does not apply. It should also be noted that the survey was taken before the recent developments in the COVID-19 outbreak.)

Health care topped the list in six of nine provinces (the sample size in Prince Edward Island wasn't large enough to make a reliable measurement), but only in Saskatchewan and British Columbia did a majority of respondents think their governments were doing a good job on the issue.

NDP leads in B.C., where housing is top issue

The survey found that 44 per cent of British Columbians chose housing as a top issue, outpacing any other issue listed by ARI. The environment and climate change finished second with 30 per cent, followed by poverty and homelessness at 25 per cent.

A majority of respondents thought the NDP government under B.C. Premier John Horgan was doing a good job on health care delivery (58 per cent), while roughly half approved of the government's handling of the education system and the economy. Only on protection of the environment (52 per cent) and managing natural resources (65 per cent) did a majority think Horgan's government was doing a bad job.

A majority of respondents say they think B.C. Premier John Horgan's government has done a good or very good job managing the health care system. (Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press)

Heading up a minority government propped up by the B.C. Greens, Horgan's New Democrats led in the survey in voting intentions with 36 per cent support among decided voters. The B.C. Liberals under Andrew Wilkinson trailed with 31 per cent, followed by the B.C. Greens — who will choose a new leader in June — with 21 per cent. Another 12 per cent of respondents said they would support another party.

Majority give Kenney thumbs-down on economy

Three issues are top of mind for Albertans, according to the ARI poll: energy/pipelines, jobs/unemployment and the economy. Between 42 and 44 per cent of respondents listed these as their top issues, with health care trailing at 35 per cent.

Premier Jason Kenney's government is not performing well on these issues. On the economy, only 36 per cent said the government was doing a good job, compared to 60 per cent who said it was doing a bad job. On managing natural resources, 53 per cent said Kenney's government was doing a poor job. Only on transportation infrastructure, health care and the environment did a plurality or majority give Kenney a thumbs-up.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Kenney's United Conservative Party holds only a narrow four-point lead over Rachel Notley's New Democrats, with 40 per cent support among decided voters to 36 per cent for the NDP. Notably, nine per cent of respondents said they'd vote for the Independence Party of Alberta. Another eight per cent said they'd vote for the Alberta Party and seven per cent said they'd vote for another party.

PCs hold lead despite low grades for Ford's government

Both health care (44 per cent) and education (39 per cent) outpaced all other issues in Ontario as those that are top of mind for voters, and Doug Ford's PC government scored poorly on both.

On health care, 55 per cent said the Ford government was doing a poor or very poor job, compared to 41 per cent who said it was doing a good or very good job. The worst grades came on the government's handling of the education system, with 67 per cent saying the government was doing a poor or very poor job. The province is currently in the midst of a labour dispute with Ontario teachers.

According to a new poll, 67 per cent of Ontarians think Premier Doug Ford (right) is doing a poor or very poor job with the education. (Frank Gunn / Canadian Press)

A majority of respondents also gave Ford a failing grade on issues like the environment and the economy.

Nevertheless, Ford's Progressive Conservatives still lead in voting intentions. The party had the support of 36 per cent of decided voters, ahead of the New Democrats with 31 per cent, the Liberals with 24 per cent and the Greens with eight per cent. The poll was conducted before the Ontario Liberals selected Steven Del Duca as their new leader.

CAQ government scores highly on the economy

The poll suggests Quebecers are very satisfied with some aspects of Premier François Legault's government, but have more mixed views on others.

Fully 63 per cent of Quebecers said the CAQ government was doing a good or very good job on the economy, with just 31 per cent giving Legault a failing grade. On representing the province's interests with the federal government, 60 per cent of Quebecers said Legault's government was doing a good or very good job. These are positive scores for a nationalist government that has made the economy its top priority.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault's government received high marks on the economy in a recent poll, but scored less well on issues like health care and education. (Jacques Boissinot / Canadian Press)

But the proportion of Quebecers who said Legault's government was doing a good or poor job was virtually even on other issues — including health care, which was listed by 51 per cent of respondents as their top issue.

The CAQ is leading in voting intentions with 36 per cent support, followed at length by the Quebec Liberals at 22 per cent. The Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire trailed with 17 and 16 per cent support, respectively. For all parties, these levels of support are largely unchanged from the 2018 provincial election.

Health care tops list in Prairies, Atlantic Canada

The poll also found that health care was the top issue for respondents in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while the deficit topped the list in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The survey suggested that Premier Scott Moe in Saskatchewan received high marks on most issues, while Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was seen to be doing a poor job by more respondents on every issue except the economy.

In Atlantic Canada, a majority of New Brunswickers and Nova Scotians thought their governments were doing a poor job on every tested issue. In Newfoundland and Labrador, a majority approved only of the government's handling of the education system.

Of note: 82 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians thought Premier Dwight Ball's government was doing a poor or very poor job on the economy. That was the worst result for any provincial government on any issue tested in the poll.

About the Author

Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.

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