Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have pulled further ahead of the governing Liberals, according to a new poll, and now have a five-point lead a week before the budget unveiling that could trigger a spring election.

The Ipsos Reid poll for CTV News/CP24/Newstalk 1010 found that if an election were held tomorrow:

  • The PCs would receive 37 per cent support among decided voters (up 3 points);
  • The Liberals would receive 32 per cent support (up 1 point);
  • The NDP would receive 27 per cent support (down 4 points);
  • 5 per cent support would go to “others,” including the Green Party.

About 20 per cent of respondents remain undecided, the poll found.

The Conservatives are gaining support amid a gas plant scandal that continues to hang over the Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne. Recently released police documents show that a partner to a former staffer in Dalton McGuinty’s administration was hired to delete emails related to the scandal.

The PCs under leader Tim Hudak have accused Wynne of knowing more about the incident than she has let on, which led Wynne to launch a libel suit against the PCs. Meantime, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath remains in the position of having to decide whether to bring down the minority Liberal government on next week’s budget.

The Liberals will table the budget on May 1.

Regional support

Each party draws support from different parts of the province, the poll found.

  • In Toronto, the Liberals are tops with 40 per cent support, followed by the NDP at 33 per cent, the PCs at 24 per cent and 4 per cent for “others.”
  • In the 905-area of the GTA, the PCs have 47 per cent support, compared to 27 per cent for the Liberals, 21 per cent for the NDP and 5 per cent for “others.”
  • In Southwestern Ontario, the PCs have the lead at 37 per cent support, with the Liberals at 30 per cent support, the NDP at 27 per cent and “others” at 5 per cent.

Southwestern Ontario saw the greatest movement in support, according to the poll. In February, an Ipsos Reid poll had the NDP in the lead there with 43 per cent support, compared to 29 per cent for the Liberals and 22 per cent for the PCs.

In Eastern Ontario the PCs also have the lead at 39 per cent, compared to the Liberals at 34 per cent, the NDP at 24 per cent and “others” at 3 per cent.

The NDP have a sizable lead in Northern Ontario with 43 per cent support, compared to 31 per cent for the Liberals, 18 per cent for the PCs and 8 per cent for “others.”

PC support grows among committed voters

While the PCs have pulled ahead of the Liberals among decided voters, their support grows further still when looking at the voting intentions among those most committed to going to the polls on election day.

Among the 49 per cent of respondents who said that “nothing short of an unforeseen emergency could stop me from getting to the voting booth and casting my vote’:

  • The Conservatives receive 42 per cent of the vote (up 5 points);
  • The Liberals receive 27 per cent support (down 5 points);
  • The NDP also receive 27 per cent support (unchanged);
  • Other parties receive 4 per cent support.

“In short, a low turnout suggests Liberal voters are staying home,” the pollsters note.

“While an election has not been called, if these figures hold true, the Liberals would likely be crushed on their right flank while trying to fend off an attack from an emboldened NDP which is putting up a strong fight for centrist ground historically occupied by the Liberals, who have veered left.”

The findings suggest the Liberals may move more to the centre to compete with the PCs, the pollsters say. The NDP has work to do to present itself as a viable alternative to a potential PC government to gain some disenchanted Liberal supporters.

Meanwhile, only one-in-three Ontario voters believe that the “Wynne government has done a good job and deserves re-election,” up one point from February. Sixty-eight per cent say it is “time for another provincial party to take over.”

Just over 40 per cent of respondents believe that “Ontario is currently on the right track,” up two points from February. Six in ten say the province “is headed in the wrong direction,” down two points.

As for which party leader would make the best premier, 32 per cent chose Hudak (up four points), 31 per cent chose Wynne (unchanged) and 28 per cent chose Horwath (down four points).

The poll is a sample of 813 Ontarians from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel, and was conducted between Apr. 15 and 17. The poll is considered accurate to within +/- 4 percentage points.