Health care the top priority for voters, poll reveals
Published Thursday, June 2, 2011 6:50PM EDT
Canadian voters want Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new majority government to place the priority on health care, a new poll reveals. But voters also want to see the deficit eliminated, taxes cut and jobs created.
Those are the findings of a new poll from Nanos Research and the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
The telephone survey asked more than 1,200 Canadians to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how highly they viewed nine possible priorities for this government. Here are the average scores each priority earned:
- Working with the provinces on health care - 4.32
- Creating jobs through training - 4.01
- Eliminating the deficit - 3.98
- Cutting taxes - 3.69
- Investing in research and development - 3.63
- Getting tough on crime - 3.58
- Focusing on new trade opportunities around the world - 3.48
- Strengthening Canada's armed forces - 3.05
- Reforming the Senate of Canada - 2.99
Almost 60 per cent of respondents gave a "5" rating to "working with the provinces on health care," meaning they wanted health care given high priority.
Committed federal Conservative supporters were most likely to score health care high on the priority scale – about as high as they scored eliminating the deficit.
In all, 44 per cent of respondents gave "eliminating the deficit" a score of 5, suggesting that many Canadians are also concerned about the country's books.
Getting tough on crime was a middle-of-the-road priority for Canadians – only 35 per cent scored it a 5 -- while Senate reform and strengthening Canada's Armed Forces were lower priorities, the poll found.
Pollster Nik Nanos says the research suggests a number of things. First, many Canadians may see Senate reform as a diversion from more important issues such as health care, the deficit, jobs and taxes.
Likewise, Canadians are not as concerned with strengthening Canada's Armed Forces if it interferes with plans to eliminate the deficit, but on the other hand, they may regard it more warmly if it means more job creation.
The debate about how to fund the military could become a political hot potato, Nanos suggested.
"One possible political flashpoint in the next parliament could revolve around defence spending. New Democrats are more likely to believe that strengthening Canada's Armed Forces is not a priority compared to both Conservatives and Liberals," he observed.
Priorities related to money issues appear to be important Canadians, the poll found.
"As we enter a period of multiple provincial elections where health care will be among the top provincial election issues, one can expect that Canadians may also examine Harper's strategy on managing the health care issue beyond the election commitment," Nanos said.
The Nanos/IRPP poll was conducted between May 24 and 29. The random telephone survey of 1,205 Canadians 18 years of age and older was accurate plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.