What Pandemic? COVID-19 Surpassed by Health Care (31%), Affordability (25%), Climate Change (24%), and Economy (24%) as Top Issues of the Day

Liberals Seen as Best Suited to Tackle Most Top Issues, But Cede Major Ground to Conservatives Regarding Economy

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, July 26, 2021 – A recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News finds that while the pandemic has had an oversized impact on the country for the past year and a half, when it comes down to casting their ballots, Canadians will have other things on their minds. Perhaps a result of having put so much effort into lockdown measures, vaccination efforts, and social distancing, Canadians now have the luxury of setting concerns over COVID-19 on the back burner and instead making their decision on who to vote for in the next federal election based on a different set of issues.

However, the incumbent government does not stand to lose out on this focus on non-pandemic related issues; Canadians believe that the Liberals have the edge over the Conservatives on several (though not all) top-of-mind issues. This certainly bodes well for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as the country inches closer to a potential fall election.

 

COVID-19 Adds New Concern to Already Crowded List of Worries

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has added a new issue for Canadians to consider when considering their vote, the top issues largely remain the same from two years ago[1]. Health care remains the number-one issue (31%), followed by a statistical tie between the affordability/cost of living (25%), climate change (24%), and the economy (24%). Also related to health care, COVID-19 (20%) rounds out the list of top-five concerns.

The addition of COVID-19 to the issue set means that fewer Canadians are choosing health care (-6) and climate change (-6) among their list of top-three concerns when compared with October 2019. Taxes (17%), a major hot-button issue just before the last federal election, has fallen eight points and now sits just outside of the top five. Other issues have managed to become more salient than they were two years ago, namely Indigenous issues (11%, +6), poverty/social inequality (14%, +3), and unemployment/jobs (13%, +3). Widespread closures and lay-offs for the past year or more have certainly made Canadians more attuned to poverty and unemployment. Furthermore, the recent gruesome discoveries on the grounds of former residential schools and the selection of a new Governor General have certainly contributed to raising the salience of Indigenous issues among the general Canadian population.

 

Importance of Issues on Vote Choice

(Mentioned in top three)

Issue

Percentage

Change from October 2019

Health care

31%

-6

Affordability and cost of living

25%

-

Climate change

24%

-6

Economy

24%

-

COVID-19

20%

N/A

Taxes

17%

-8

Housing (e.g., affordability, availability)

15%

+1

Poverty and social inequality

14%

+3

Unemployment/jobs

13%

+3

Government deficits/debt

12%

+1

Corruption and ethics in government

11%

+1

Indigenous issues

11%

+6

Seniors' issues/aging population

11%

-3

Bold indicates top 5 issues.

Note: Issues below 10% not shown

 

Top Issues Differ by Preferred Federal Party

What Canadians consider to be the top issues influencing their vote choice also vary according to which party they plan to support during the next federal election. Those who say they either have already decided to vote for the Conservatives or are leaning in that direction prioritize fiscal issues such as the economy (32%), taxes (29%), and government deficits/debt (26%), whereas those decided/leaning Liberal voters are making their decision based on issues such as health care (35%) and climate change (32%). Those who are looking to support the NDP in the next election say that affordability/cost of living (39%) and climate change (37%) are influential.

In addition, undecided voters also have a role to play, with 14% of the Canadian adults saying they are undecided as to who they would vote for.[2] Should they decide to vote, they will be casting their ballots mainly based on the issues of health care (38%), followed by affordability/cost of living (25%), and unemployment/jobs (21%).

 

Top Issues Influencing Vote Choice

(Among Decided/Leaning Voters of Each Major Party)

Conservative

Liberal

NDP

Not sure

Economy

32%

Health care

35%

Affordability/

cost of living

39%

Health care

38%

Taxes

29%

Climate change

32%

Climate change

37%

Affordability/

cost of living

25%

Government deficits/

debt

26%

Economy

27%

Health care

28%

Unemployment/

jobs

21%

Affordability/

cost of living

25%

COVID-19

26%

Poverty/

social inequality

20%

Economy

18%

Health care

24%

Affordability/

cost of living

22%

COVID-19

 

Housing

19%

Taxes

 

COVID-19

17%

19%

17%

 

Liberals Lead on Top Issues Canadians Consider Important, Except One

In addition to asking Canadians which issues are the most influential in their vote choice, the survey also asked which political party was best suited to handle them. Out of the top-five issues that Canadians say will be most determinant of their vote in the next federal election, the Liberals lead on three (health care, climate change, and COVID-19). This may be good news for the Liberals, as Canadians seek to reward the incumbent party for its handling of the pandemic.

Among those who believe that COVID-19 is a main issue, the Liberals have a commanding lead when it comes to being perceived as most able to handle the situation (40%), with all other major parties more than 20 points behind (Cons 13%, NDP 12%, Green 4%, Bloc 3%, Other 2%). The Liberals also currently enjoy a comfortable lead among those who say health care is important in terms of being seen as best positioned to tackle the issue (30% v. 22% for the second place NDP). While the Liberals (27%) are essentially tied with the Greens (28%) when it comes to being seen as best suited to deal with climate change, they are still eight points ahead of the next major party, the NDP (19%).

While the Liberals are slightly weaker than the NDP when it comes to being seen as able to take on affordability/cost of living (29% for NDP v. 22% for Liberals), one area where the Liberals stumble is the economy. Among those who say that the economy is a main issue influencing their vote, the Conservatives (35%) have a healthy lead over the Liberals (27%).

However, political cynicism may have some role to play in the next election, as no fewer than one in five say that none of the major political parties are best suited to handle the top issues of the day. For instance, among those who say that affordability/cost of living is a top issue, nearly the same proportion say that the NDP is best suited to deal with it as say that none of the parties are. The lack of perceived differentiation between the major parties on the part of potential voters could either lead them to abstain from voting, spoil their ballot, or making their decision on who to vote for based on other considerations.

 

Parties Best Suited to Tackle Main Issues

(Among Those Naming Issue as a Top-Three Issue)

  • Health care: Liberals (30%), NDP (22%), Conservatives (14%), none of them (25%)
  • Affordability and cost of living: NDP (29%), Liberals (22%), Conservatives (16%), none of them (26%)
  • Climate change: Greens (28%), Liberals (27%), NDP (19%), none of them (19%)
  • Economy: Conservatives (35%), Liberals (27%), NDP (10%), none of them (22%)
  • COVID-19: Liberals (40%), Conservatives (13%), NDP (12%), none of them (26%)

 

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 19-20, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. 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 Canadians aged 18+ 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.
For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]

 

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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www.ipsos.com

 

[1] https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/One-Week-from-E-Day-Canadians-Hearing-More-Negativity-About-Candidates-Leaders-than-Policy

[2] https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/As-Election-Fever-Builds-Liberal-Majority-in-Doubt

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs

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