Poll suggests Canadians favour spending tax dollars on traditional rather than high-tech infrastructure

A newly published poll commissioned by the government suggests Canadians aren't as keen on investing in the high-tech "new economy" as the Liberals and have mixed views on increasing immigration.

Government-commissioned poll also finds mixed views on more immigration and fears of increased terrorism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the MacPhail School of Energy at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Polytechnic in Calgary last month. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A newly published poll commissioned by the government suggests Canadians aren't as keen on investing in the high-tech "new economy" as the Liberals and have mixed views on increasing immigration.

The survey, conducted last summer, found most Canadians want the government to focus infrastructure spending on "traditional" projects like public transit.

It also found many Canadians were concerned terrorism was more likely to increase than decrease, with some blaming that on higher levels of immigration and a perceived lack of screening of refugees.

These were just two of the issues addressed in the wide-ranging poll commissioned by the Privy Council Office and recently posted online.

Economic priorities

CBC News previously obtained the results and analysis of the poll's earlier waves, which included questions about the government's economic initiatives and Canadians' knowledge of them.

But in questions asked in later waves of the survey, the poll found Canadians were more likely to believe that investments in infrastructure would "create construction jobs in the short term" and "help grow the economy." They were much less likely to say these investments would benefit them personally and had mixed views on the use of public-private partnerships to pay for some projects.

And despite the government's emphasis on investments in the new economy, such as expanding high-speed Internet access to remote communities, the poll suggests Canadians are more comfortable with less targeted spending.

According to the survey, 41 per cent of respondents thought the government should financially support "individual Canadian businesses in sectors that are expected to experience high rates of growth over the next few years." But 50 per cent said individual businesses should receive financial support from the government "regardless of sector."

A government-commissioned poll suggests most Canadians (60 per cent) want the Liberals to focus infrastructure spending on traditional projects like public transit rather than infrastructure to support the high-tech 'new economy.' (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Asked what the government's main priority in infrastructure spending should be, 60 per cent said "infrastructure that is associated with more traditional projects, such as public transit, etc." rather than "infrastructure that is associated with the 'new economy,' such as technology infrastructure." Just 26 per cent selected the latter option. 

Another 11 per cent said the government should prioritize both.

Immigration and terrorism

The poll included a few questions related to immigration as well as terrorism and found that a small number of respondents linked the two issues.

While 41 per cent of Canadians said the intake of skilled immigrants should be kept the same, 34 per cent said it should be increased. Another 23 per cent felt it should be decreased.

Support for an increased intake of skilled immigrants rose with education and income, and was higher among urban dwellers.

The poll also asked whether the threat of terrorism against the country would increase in the six months from the date of the survey. By a margin of 34 per cent to seven per cent, respondents felt it was more likely to increase than decrease. A majority (57 per cent) thought it would stay the same.

Asked why those who thought the threat of terrorism would increase felt that way, 37 per cent of them said it was because terrorism was increasing globally and Canada was no exception. The next most common reason was the "increase in immigration and refugees" and the "lack of screening" at 18 per cent.

Though that corresponded to about six per cent of the entire sample — the question was asked solely of those who felt terrorism would increase — this is the seam of voters being targeted by Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch's campaign.

Elemental Data Collection conducted the poll of 6,016 Canadians via the telephone (land lines and cellphones) between June 3 and Aug. 28. The poll reported a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The government paid $122,859.25 for the survey.


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.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?