Health care of top importance to Canadians
A health care protester strolls the waterfront in Lunenburg, N.S. on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 12:15PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 4:09PM EDT
A new survey says keeping Canada’s health care system strong, creating jobs and keeping communities safe are issues of top importance to Canadians. However, that same poll suggests Canadians have little confidence in elected officials’ ability to address these issues of concern.
The poll, a joint effort by the Institute for Research on Public Policy and Nanos Research, asked Canadians to rate the importance of a series of policy changes to Canada’s future, using a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 10 (very important).
Securing top spot with a score of 9 out of 10 on the importance scale was keeping the country’s health care system strong. That was followed by job creation with a rating of 8.7, and investing in education and ensuring safe communities, which both had a score of 8.4 out of 10.
“What is interesting is that all of these issues are quite close to the day-to-day lives of Canadians,” writes Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research.
“Can my mother get her hip replaced? Can I keep my job? Will our children have the education they need to prosper? Are we safe in our communities?”
When asked to identify the issue of most importance to them, 24.9 per cent of respondents said health care, followed by 19.7 per cent who said jobs and 9.7 per cent who chose balanced government budgets.
Issues of least importance on the scale included improving the quality of life for First Nations living on reserve and developing Canada’s North, both of which received a score of 6.8 out of 10. Asserting Canada’s role in international affairs scored a 7.1.
“Perhaps, in terms of public opinion, being out of sight is also being out of mind,” Nanos said of these issues.
While Canadians were clear about the issues of most concern to them, they were also clear in expressing their doubts that elected officials will be able to solve them.
Of those surveyed, Canadians were twice as likely to say they did not have confidence in governments’ ability to solve issues of national concern (18 per cent) than to say they were confident (9.4 per cent).
Meanwhile, only 7.1 per cent of Canadians were confident in the ability to find solutions to issues facing their province, compared to 24.3 per cent who were not confident.
Also, when asked if Canada has gotten better or worse at creating solutions to issues of concern, 31.8 per cent of respondents said worse compared to 18.6 per cent who said better.
Nanos writes that issues deemed the most important, such as health care, the aging population and living standards, also received the lowest scores in Canadians’ confidence in finding solutions.
When it comes to issues of varying importance, such as natural resources, crime, border protection, trade and international affairs, Canadians were more likely to express confidence in the ability to find solutions.
“One could argue that many of these issues seem to be aligned with the current priorities of the Harper government -- energy and the oilsands, border security, crime and trade,” Nanos said.
“This brings into focus the factors that have a major impact on the policy development process. Consider this: If our elected politicians are interested in their own political ends, they will tend to focus on issues that Canadians believe can be solved, while not focusing on issues that Canadians believe are more difficult to solve.”
The survey was conducted online between July 5 and July 9. While a total of 2,000 interviews were conducted, the final results included 1,333 individuals.