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Federal Budget 2016

Health Care (40%), Tax Cuts (34%), Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy (28%), Cutting the Deficit (28%) and Help for the Middle Class (28%) Top Canadians’ Budget Priorities

Slim Majority (56%) Supports Investing in Corporations to Save Jobs, Spending More to Help the Alberta Economy (53%)

Toronto – Canadians have outlined their priorities for the Liberal government’s inaugural budget, with healthcare, taxes, the deficit and relief for the middle class at the top of the list, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News.

Canadians were asked to rank fifteen potential priorities from highest to lowest. Their top-three choices were aggregated to produce the following list of priorities in ranked order.

Interestingly, some of the Prime Minister’s priority areas – the environment and First Nations – appear lower down on the list for Canadians, ranking 10th and 13th, respectively. Infrastructure spending – which the Liberals have stated will require deficit-financing and is intended to help stimulate the sluggish economy – is also further down the list, ranking 8th out of 15 priorities.

The Liberal government has already announced that they will reduce the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 67 to 65, reversing an earlier decision by the Harper Tories. However, only 13% of Canadians chose this among their top-three priorities, ranking it 11th out of 15.

Focus on Alberta…

With Alberta’s economic confidence in tatters, it will be a challenge for the government to address the unique issues facing the province while at the same time balancing the needs of Canada overall. Canadians are mixed on whether Alberta deserves special attention in this budget: one half (53%) ‘agrees’ (12% strongly/41% somewhat) that ‘given the collapse of oil prices, the Liberal government should spend more to help the Alberta economy’, while the other half (47%) ‘disagrees’ (13% strongly/35% somewhat). Not surprisingly, 95% of Albertans agree (59% strongly/36% somewhat) that they deserve special focus, followed by those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (68%), British Columbia (51%), Ontario (51%), Atlantic Canada (49%) and Quebec (35%) who are less inclined to say the government should spend more on Alberta.

Albertans’ priority areas look a little different than those in the rest of Canada. Healthcare is still number-one (41%), but spending more to help seniors (40%) and spending more to help middle-class families (33%) round out the top three priorities for Albertans. Moreover, 24% of Albertans rank government spending to help young Canadians get work experience among their top three issues – higher than the 15% of Canadians, overall, who included this issue among their top three.

Corporate Investments…

Another thorny issue that the government will need to deal with in the budget is whether or not to invest in Bombardier. The company is seeking federal government’s financial help after securing $1B in investments from the government of Quebec.

Reflecting on whether the government should spend on companies in order to save jobs, a slim majority (56%) ‘agrees’ (13% strongly/43% somewhat) that ‘the government should invest tax-dollars in large corporations in Canada who are struggling to make money and keep Canadians employed’, while a minority (44%) ‘disagrees’ (13% strongly/31% somewhat). Given these divisive results, it’s likely that a good deal of Canadians might not support the government’s decision, whichever way it decides.

In Quebec, 64% agree that the government should invest in corporations who are struggling, while only 53% of those in the Rest of Canada agree, with Albertans (57%) and residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (56%) being most inclined to agree, followed by those in Ontario (54%), Atlantic Canada (51%) and British Columbia (50%).

Red-Hot Real Estate…

Much attention has been paid in the media to red-hot real-estate markets in Vancouver, especially, and also Toronto. Canadians are split on whether they think the government should take steps to intervene: 47% ‘agree’ (14% strongly/33% somewhat) that ‘the government should take action to make it easier for Canadians to buy real estate in expensive markets like Vancouver and Toronto’, while 53% ‘disagree’ (19% strongly/34% somewhat) that the federal government should get involved in real estate markets in this manner. Six in ten (61%) residents of British Columbia agree, but only 46% of Ontarians agree.

Balancing the Economy and the Environment…

Given the precarious economic situation in Alberta, the government will need to walk a fine line between pursuing its environmental agenda without compromising the economy. On this fine line, a slim majority (54%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (7% strongly/47% somewhat) that ‘the government is doing a good job balancing environmental responsibility with economic growth’, while nearly one half (46%) ‘disagrees’ (18% strongly/28% somewhat) that the government is balancing these two responsibilities well. Residents of British Columbia (67%) and Atlantic Canada (66%) are most likely to agree, while those in Quebec (55%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (52%), Ontario (50%) and Alberta (43%) are significantly less likely to agree.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 14 and 16, 2016, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,008 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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